The kernel_task process is at 567MB of RAM, and my hard disk space keeps disappearing. I just synced an iPhone 4S with iTunes like ~2 days ago, and now every couple hours I get the message that the startup disk is low on space. I've tried using Grand Perspective to no avail, as well as Disk Doctor.

Image added

What might be consuming my space or causing these results?

  • it was at 6.05GB 30 mins ago, 5.95 before I restarted to update to 10.9.1, and now it's at 5.65 (!). I'm on an early 2011 MBP, 15 inch, OS X Mavericks 10.9.1
    – user65268
    Dec 20, 2013 at 4:01
  • now moving past 5.61GB...
    – user65268
    Dec 20, 2013 at 4:03
  • i.imgur.com/PsoHYft.png
    – user65268
    Dec 20, 2013 at 4:18
  • Wait, grand perspective shows zero space allocated? That makes no sense.
    – bmike
    Dec 20, 2013 at 19:19

3 Answers 3


My guess is you have a stuck process that is impairing the ability of the OS to tell you what amount of space is actually used from Applications, audio-movies-photo rather than categorizing everything as "other".

  1. Make a back up of the Mac in case it's corruption or a serious problem.
  2. Power off the Mac.
  3. Boot to safe mode - hold the shift key as soon as you hear the startup chime and release it 20 seconds after the grey screen is drawn.

That should free up a stuck process and also repair any disk corruption at is easily fixable. Please let us know if you continue to get bad information from the space allocation image. Surely Applications take up more than zero K.


You can search for large files, see this earlier question (or using Spotlight).
The installer for 10.9.1 will take up 230 Mb, add another 230 Mb for the installed files, so that's the 0.5 Gb you reported losing.


That behavior is "normal". Part of your disk space is used for "virtual memory", and that space is at least as much as you have RAM in your Mac. When you reboot, this virtual memory file gets cut again to the minimum. So, if you reboot, you should have more space again. If that's the case, it kind of proves my point.

Other programs that need more space than what your RAM offers, will also extend this VM file, and also cause a lot of disk access, making your Mac much slower (unless you have a SSD as your main disk).

To monitor the VM usage, try looking at your memory with the "Activity Monitor" app.

Basically, you need more free disk space. 5 GB is just not enough for many apps nowadays.

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