A Developer Freeing Up Space on macOS

July 4, 2018
6 minutes to read

Even though there are various articles on the web regarding how to free up space on your Mac; those articles are usually for end-users with basic instructions such as delete watched iTunes content, clear out your Trash and etc.

As developers, we have different needs and usage patterns. Therefore if a developer wants to free up space on macOS, he/she needs to look elsewhere.

Clear Out 3rd Party Stuff

You’re probably using a dependency manager such as Carthage. Or making use of Homebrew to sort out your shell needs. If so, you definitely need to check out their garbage!

Clear Out Carthage’s Cache

rm -rf ~/Library/Caches/org.carthage.CarthageKit/

Clear Out Cocoapods’ Cache

rm -rf "${HOME}/Library/Caches/CocoaPods"

Clear Out Old Brews

brew cleanup

Unnecessary Languages/Architectures

You could be using multiple keyboard layouts but most probably(i.e. 99.999999%), you’re making use of only one single OS/app language. So, a lot of the unnecessary language files are standing there doing nothing but taking up your valuable storage space.

You could visit each and every application you’ve got and hunt down their language files but why bother; use Monolingual.

With Monolingual, not only you can cleanup unused OS/app languages but also you can get rid of the architectures you’re not making use of.

For instance, by removing the languages I’m not using, which was anything but English, I’ve made a saving of close to 1 GB.

Unnecessary Language File Removal with Monolingual
Unnecessary Language File Removal with Monolingual

However, do be careful when you’re deleting the:

Also, I wish, Apple would’ve supported this itself by employing app thinning on iOS to macOS as well and improve the process.

VMware Fusion Junk

As far as I can remember, I’ve been using VMware Fusion for my virtualisation needs on macOS. There was one or two occasions where I tasted other solutions but I always ended up with VMware.

Anyways, if you’re like me and using VMware Fusion, you need to watch it out! The thing is that if you’ve dynamic allocation set for your VMs’ disk spaces(which, most probably, you do), VMware does indeed increase the disk spaces by dynamically allocating the space as the naming suggests BUT it does NOT dynamically shrink them. Key point!

Therefore, even if you see space freeing up inside your VMs when you delete stuff on the guest operating system, the VM file size on macOS side won’t shrink!

On that note, for your Windows machines, you need to:

Unfortunately, the comfort of a single button click is not available for Linux distributions. For them, you need to perform some shell magic which I won’t touch here since it’s a bit more length process. Maybe later I’ll write about it.

Managing VM Your Storage

This isn’t exactly related to freeing up your storage but I’d really like to point it out. As a best practice, I would advise you to store your VMs not on your Mac’s disk but on an external one with at least USB 3.0 connectivity. You can even dedicate USB dongles for your most used VMs. Which is highly convenient!

This used to be impossible as peripheral speeds were not enough previously but starting with USB 3.0, read/write speeds can be decent enough. I’m saying can be here because keep in mind that, if you’re going on with the USB dongle option; be aware that as the dongle shrinks the read/write speeds lower as well! For running a VM over USB 3.0 connection, you need the full potential of USB 3.0.

If we’re lucky, one day we’ll get USB-C dongles which are progressing really slowly. But once we do, that’ll be even better!

The reasoning behind this is that VMs can/do get messy pretty quickly. Hence you don’t need to store them on your main drive all the time.

Besides, via this approach, you can easily share them among your coworkers and if you’re backing up your system(you’re, right? 😉), they won’t be taking up space(which VMs do take a lot).

Handle Xcode

Chances are you’re most likely a developer on one of Apple’s platforms. If that’s the case, whether you’ve a love or hate relationship with Xcode, from time to time, you need to maintain it; clean it up.

Here is a preview of things to come:

Xcode's Junk
Xcode's Junk

Delete Unnecessary Xcode Simulators

xcrun simctl delete unavailable

Xcode | Archives

Xcode also stores some stuff named archives for some of your projects which are bigger than IPAs because they contain additional data like debug information.

Xcode | DerivedData

Xcode generates build specific files for each and every project of yours. If you delete those, afterwards, your initial compilation for those projects will be a bit more time consuming. And you might be pulling out your hair when compiling Swift(which saw dramatic compile time increases in these recent times) but as a developer you’ve probably opened a lot of projects. Some of which you don’t need any more. So at least delete these projects’ derived data to gain some space:

Xcode | Logs

You might have some unnecessary logs lying around. You won’t be gaining a lot of space but worth a look:

Xcode | Old Device Information

Remember the times when you connect a device and Xcode generates some stuff(that takes forever) to be able to deploy your applications on device? Yeah, Xcode does that a lot and unfortunately, stores all of them. Even the ones generated for older versions of iOS; which you definitely won’t be needing anymore.


Capping at about 400MB per folder for some, may be it’ll be just a couple of gigs getting cleaned up but better than none at the least.

Daisy Disk

As a person, you might have unnecessary files lying somewhere on your disk. Trust me, it’s impossible or really frustrating to hunt them down by browsing via Finder.

For this purpose, I suggest DaisyDisk. I’ve used it many times with great pleasure. There’s nothing new here. It’s a basic disk usage visualisation app but with great macOS support.

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