My mac recently started to indicate that the startup disk was full. I went thru and cleaned out all the disk images and videos and other large files that I could find. Emptied trash. Emptied downloads.

If you look at the screenshot I'm having a really hard time figuring out what's in that 659GB. Any clues?
System Report

  • 2012 MacBookPro with 1TB SSD
  • macOS 10.14.3 with 4 users (me primarily, wife and two kids who rarely use it)
  • Virtualized with Windows7 via VMWare Extreme
  • iTunes is not used, no music
  • iMovie: cleaned library
  • iPhoto and Photos still installed

A suspicion: From what I've read about when Photos replaced iPhoto that used a pointers system for Photos to point at the iPhoto files from the old iPhoto library rather than creating a new duplicate library. I still use iPhoto for my photography hobby as I can color correct, edit, organize, etc. Photos was imposed on me in a software update.

Anyway, if you look below, the two outer rings are both about the same size. The outermost ring has the same name as the item at the top of the list on the top right. The next ring has a different name and is slightly smaller. The "storage" button (screen shot above) from "About This Mac" lists a much smaller amount counted as photos (yellow).

Last is the Photos info button results (iPhoto doesnt seem to offer info about the library linked to it)

disk expert Photos info

  • You can get more details by selecting the "File Browser" tab in the first screenshot. This should actually show you where the huge amount of data is used.
    – nohillside
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 17:50
  • 1
    OTOH from the looks of it it's quite obvious that your iPhoto library is using 558 GB. macOS includes this in Documents, Photos only contains pictures stored in Photos (the application). Time to clean out/archive old pictures maybe?
    – nohillside
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 17:51
  • It says you have 255 videos. Videos can require a lot of space. Are these videos mostly short clips or are they full length movies.
    – Natsfan
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 18:04
  • Nohillside, thanks for confirming what I was suspecting about where the photos were. Having some in a "pictures" folder and others in the "documents" category threw me off.
    – spencemw
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


Assuming your directory is correct, you have the following folders to move off the drive or to thin out:

  • 558 GB photos library
  • 67 GB Windows 7 disk image and files

If you have a good backup, you should be able to simply copy those to an external drive, train them and see that all the space you expect is freed.

The virtual windows files runs great on an external - and thinning it might be tough.

Photos is a little easier to rebuild and clean up - you might need a tool like Power Photos if you don't like merging libraries or have a good strategy to move some files to a secondary library or would be willing to move the primary photos to iCloud and let photos only store thumbnails / free up or "optimize" space on your Mac.

I wouldn't do cloud first unless you are sure you archive the originals or can walk away from photos if iCloud crashes or corrupts things, though.

  • Thanks bmike. I had a few SSDs sitting around and Ive already migrated some of the photos and most of the videos on to them. I will prune off more of the iphoto library as well. Ill check out power photos too. The Windows image I have to hang on to as I have to do some developing for windows thru MS visual studio and this is on a laptop I use remotely.
    – spencemw
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 16:13

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