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I have an old MacBook Air that I share with my spouse. The Mac has 251 GB of flash storage, total. However, my spouse has somehow managed to squeeze 535 GB of data into it:

A screenshot showing that out of 251 GB in the disc, 4 are available, but other users are using 525 GB

Now I am trying to resolve this, and I found that the culprit is in her Library/Group Containers folder. She uses OneDrive, and though OneDrive swears by all that is holy that all files are only available online and not occupying a single byte on disk. There are two OneDrive related folders inside Group containers occupying over 200GB each.

The MacBook was abnormally slow until I stopped OneDrive (which was constantly using 50% of the CPU time). It has quite a good performance now, but I would like to know how I can fix these storage measures to get a real picture of how much space is being used, and how much space those Group Containers are actually using.

If it helps, when I look at system storage from her account, I see more detailed data: apps are like 30 GB, pictures, movies etc. slightly less than 10, but System Data is over 110 GB. But the group containers still register as occupying over 200 GB each, and they are the only folders in her whole Library which are taking an absurd amount of space. So to reinforce, how do I get the Mac to measure the size of those folders accurately?

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  • Daisy Disk does very well on “other users” corruption. How good is your backup and do you have more than one OS or user on this Mac?
    – bmike
    Dec 30, 2023 at 19:34
  • OmniDiskSweeper is a free alternative.
    – benwiggy
    Dec 30, 2023 at 21:11
  • @bmike I don't think I have a backup :(
    – Geeky Guy
    Dec 31, 2023 at 2:47

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You may have to boot to recovery mode if you truly have only 4 GB left.

The spotlight process can’t work with a disk that’s full. I would examine your backup and try to free 10 GB of space (30 is better) and then boot once in safe mode and let it run for an hour then boot back to the normal OS and see if spotlight gives you better information.

I like Daisy Disk as it can do a better job in some cases than Apple. Even on a proper functioning Mac, it’s sometimes a bit complicated to see what is free with APFS snapshots and several other optimizations that have been added over time.

TLDR; the Mac is stuck and not working properly and needs help to get a better picture. It could be too overfilled the drive or that you’re about to suffer data loss.

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