I updated to macOS Sierra (16A319) and was checking my storage where I saw this extra division greyed out saying Purgeable.

Image for reference

What is the significance/meaning of Purgeable?

5 Answers 5


These are files that the system, or you, hasn't accessed in a long time and so are stored in iCloud. If you're running low on disk space, macOS can safely delete them, keeping a 'shortcut', on your system.

When you need the file again, the system will download it for you in he background. This site has a good overview of the feature if you want to read more.

As your Mac begins to run out of space, your oldest files are quietly and automatically stored online, leaving Download icons in their places on your Mac, so that you can retrieve them if you need them. (A new graph in the Disk Utility program shows how much space you stand to retrieve this way, marked Purgeable.)

  • 1
    I'm hopeful that purgeable is more broad than just iCloud documents and actually lists all cache / regenerated / rebuildable content like iTunes files that are stored in the cloud, Photos files that exist primarily in the cloud, iCloud Documents. We'll have to see in practice once the documentation is released and as the OS evolves.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 20:38
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    I do not want Apple managing what I have on my internal SSD, or any other storage device I own! Apple is getting way to invasive for my liking... I think it may be time to go to Linux. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 20:42
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    @user3439894 Then just don't turn that feature on -- it's completely optional. The controls are in System Preferences -> iCloud pane -> iCloud Drive Options. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 21:20
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    @GordonDavisson . : Not True. I don't have iCloud enabled AT ALL, and have '84GB' free, but can't install an update for xCode (needs 6-10 GB I expect), but I have 66.6 GB in ' purgeable' space... Just want to run the 'free all purgeable space' so when I do a 'df -h / ' the OS will tell me the space is actually FREE.. Don't need this idiot concept of 'purgeable' but not by me, and using up 12% of my hard disk space (and MY TIME) to fix it. Not thanks, rejecting this 'feature' (just like I rejected the idea of iclod) Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 19:40
  • Can we uncheck the definitely wrong answer?
    – l008com
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 3:28

Purgeable is a distinct concept from the "Store infrequently used files on iCloud" functionality. From Mac Help (available from the Help menu, search for "purgeable"):

“purgeable space” — or space that macOS can free up when needed by removing files from your computer. You can’t manually remove the files that are designated purgeable, but macOS removes them as space is required.


"Purgeable: Contains locally stored files and documents that can be removed when space is needed, and then downloaded or generated again when the files are needed again by you or your Mac."

Effectively the OS has various caches, temp files, copies of things it downloaded, etc. that are being keeping around out of view of normal users, but they can be deleted if space is needed.

If you turn on the optimized storage feature, which removes local copies of infrequently used files and stores them in iCloud, then these infrequently used files may or may not be counted with along with the system purgeable files. But even without turning on that feature, there are other purgeable files present.

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    Yes. I have small amounts listed as "purgeable" even on disks which store nothing on iCloud. And I have not tuned on "optimized storage".
    – GEdgar
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 1:39

There's a post here:


that makes the case that this also includes local time machine data, which makes sense given the size I see tagged as "purgeable".

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    I just deleted about 1.2 TiB of files on my MacBook Pro and it now shows those as "purgable". Since those files aren't in iCloud Drive this answer makes a lot of sense. :) Commented Aug 12, 2017 at 1:26

Run this: (from Terminal)

diskutil secureErase freespace 0 /dev/disk1s1

The /dev/disk1s1 is replaced with the volume that you wish to get your space back from. Run:

df -h /
Filesystem      Size   Used  Avail Capacity iused       ifree %iused  Mounted on
/dev/disk1s1   466Gi  370Gi   64Gi    86%    xxxxx   xxxxxxxxx    0%        /

And look at the first filesystem part.

In my case, I had 64GB 'purgeable', after running this command I had 2.8GB.

I wasn't able to install XCode before because I was 'out of space' - I lothe this 'feature' of OS-X because the OS reports the space as not free, even though you can create a file and remove it (what this command does).

Still can't get back the last 2.6 GB (Not to be confused with the GiBytes reported by df -h so don't worry that the numbers don't match)

  • Are you highlighting a problem here? It's hard to make answer out of it. See How to Answer for quick reference.
    – anki
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 21:29
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    No, the 'run this' is the solution to the problem, although, you may, depending on your install, have to change the last parameter from /dev/disk1s1 to something else if your machine has it mounted differently, thus, the part following that. Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 18:15
  • Thanks, all other options require you to register or pay for some extra app. Did you try deleting snapshots? That helped med get down to less then 1GB down from 200+. (i don't have iCloud) Commented May 8, 2020 at 5:25
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    This doesn't seem to work with APFS on Catalina
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 2:20
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    As @jcolebrand mentioned, it does not work with APFS: ➜ diskutil secureErase freespace 0 /dev/disk1s1 Error with secure disk erase: Secure erase by writing a run of bytes to an APFS Volume makes no sense due to its possibly-unbounded size (-69489) Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 5:22

Don't forget your Trash Bin! I first saw "Purgeable" when I threw about 20gb of files in the trash (which was the same as the purgeable amount).

You can also view "Purgeable" from the Disk Utility menu, FYI

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