Ways to Find Large Files on Mac (Manually & Automatically)

Large files can be a nuisance especially when you are running low on space. Sometimes temporary and unimportant files pile up in our storage without us even realizing it. Before you know it, you have run out of space. You can find most of these files in your regular folders like Downloads, Pictures, and Videos. If you have downloaded some large files on your Mac then deleting the files after installation might be a good idea.

A single picture alone doesn’t take a lot of space, but if you are known for taking 100-200 pictures in one session, you may need to clear the pictures folder and get rid of the unwanted stuff. Similarly, video files can rack up storage pretty fast too, especially if you shoot your videos in 4K. In this article, we will teach you some of the ways you can find these large files and get rid of them from your Mac.

Method 1: Manually Look for Large Files

It’s not always that easy to find large files on your Mac. If you have been using your Mac for a long time you must have dozens of folders and hundreds of files on it. This is fairly common for an average user but it also makes it impossible to keep track of the large files which are taking up your space. Sometimes your operating system might even store temporary files on disk which can further cause space issues.

These temporary files are not as easy to find since they are often hidden from the user. Other than temporary files there may be other files that are hidden from you and without knowing what you are looking for it can be impossible to find these.

Following is some of the places you can find large files:

  • Your Trash folder in Mac might be the culprit if you haven’t emptied it in a long time.
  • If you regularly backup your iTunes to your Mac. Your Mac might be filled with all the back-ups from iTunes. These back-ups can take tens of gigabytes of your storage without your knowledge. Find these backups in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup.
  • Check your Downloads folder for duplicate files
  • Check other folders you use regularly like Photos, Videos, for large files.
  • Check your Applications folder for large applications you don’t use anymore
  • Check for temporary files in ~/Library/Caches.

Method 2: Use an Automatic Disk Scanner Tool

The most straightforward way of finding large files on your Mac is using a Disk scanner tool. An excellent scanner will scan your drives for you automatically searching every nook and cranny and let you decide exactly what to keep or get rid of. Furthermore, you will also be able to get rid of hidden files and folders which are secretly taking up a lot of space.

We recommend using Recoverit to find any files available on your Mac. Sometimes deleted files are still present on your disk without your knowledge. Recoverit uses complicated algorithms to search your entire Mac for every hidden file and folder. Unlike other scanners which skim your drive for the files present in front, Recoverit takes a deeper dive checking in every folder including the system folders. Follow the steps below to find files you are looking for:

Step 1: Open the Recoverit Data Recovery app and select the drive you want to search files in. You can choose a drive under the “Devices” tab or look for the Desktop option under the “Select Location” tab. Once you are done click on the Start button at the bottom right.


Note: If you are looking forward to scanning a specific folder you can choose the “Select Folder” option under the “Select Location” tab.

Step 2: The scanning will now begin. You can stop or pause the scanning at any time. Wait for the scanning to complete. You can also check the “Advanced Video Recovery” to only look for large files and save time on the scanning but we would advise against it for best results.


Step 3: Once the scanning is complete you can pinpoint the exact files by filtering out the results from the panel on the right. You can filter by File Size, File Type, System Files, Date Modified, and more. Make sure you have the “Show all files” option selected in the “Show Files” drop-down.


Step 4: You can now recover these large files and choose whether you want to keep them or delete them.

Method 3: Sort by Size in Finder

Finder is the default file manager for the Mac operating system. It has an easy-to-use yet powerful interface that can help you launch any app or file. Finder as the name suggests also helps you find anything available on your Mac. You can use a built-in feature in Finder to manually search for large files. Simply follow these steps:

To find files:

Step 1: Open Finder and click on “All My Files”.

Step 2: Find the “Change the item arrangement” icon on the top and choose Size.

Step 3: The files are now arranged from large to small. You can find all the files sorted based on their size.


To find applications:

Step 1: Open Finder and click on “Applications”.

Step 2: Find the “Change the item arrangement” icon on the top and choose Size.

Step 3: The applications are now arranged from the largest to the smallest. You can find all the applications sorted based on their size.


Method 4: Search Filters in Finder

Not all files can be found in the “All My Files” tab. Many files are hidden from view. These large files can take up a lot of space without the user’s knowledge. You can use the search filters in Finder to locate these files. Simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Launch Finder. Choose the disk drive where you want to find the files from the Devices column.

Step 2: Simultaneously press the Command and F key to activate the Search function.


Step 3: Then Choose File Size > is greater than > 100 MB. You can set the size according to your preference. Now you can find all the files larger than your preferred size.


Method 5: Use the Built-in “Reduce Clutter” Feature

Another great way to find any large files is to use Mac’s recommendation system. You can check the storage details on your device and Mac gives you a feature to get rid of any large files. Follow these steps to make use of this:

Step 1: Go to “About this Mac” by clicking on the Apple icon on the top-left corner of your device.


Step 2: Next go to Storage -> Manage


Step 3: Here you can find the Reduce Clutter option under the recommendations. Click on the Review Files button.


Step 4: To find the files go to Documents. Here you will find three tabs, “Large Files”, “Downloads” and “File Browser”. You will find all your files in these tabs sorted from the largest to the smallest.


Method 6: Using the Command Prompt

If all else fails, there is another surefire way to locate the large files on your Mac. This method used command prompt which is one of the most powerful tools available on your device. Command prompt works by manually inputting commands into an emulator which then runs those commands and shows the results. Unlike in normal scenarios when you use your device’s graphical interface to access files and run programs, the command prompt takes a more direct route.

Due to its ability to run independently from the other programs, a command prompt can be used to fix many annoying and complicated bugs on your system. The commands you type in the terminal window are case-sensitive so ensure you type everything correctly to get the desired results. This is one of the simplest ways to find large files on your system without using any third-party software or following complicated steps.

Following is the steps to find the command prompt and search for the large files:

Step 1: Open the Terminal app by going to Utilities.

Step 2: Once the command prompt window opens use the find command to find the biggest files. For example,

If you want to find files larger than 1 GB in the /home directory, you can type:

find /home -size 1G

You can tweak this command by changing the directory and file size to get the files you want to see.


Bottom Line:

If the large files are not monitored, they can slow down your Mac tremendously. In the worst case, you can run out of space and experience crashes which can disrupt your work. Low storage space will also increase your Mac start-up time, applications start-up time and you will experience lag when performing simple tasks. We hope these methods were useful to you and were able to locate the large files on your system. You can choose to delete these large files or save them somewhere else. Alternatively, you can use a hard drive to increase the storage on your device. That’s all from us for today. Hope you have a lovely day!

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