OS X: What's Taking Up Your "Other" Storage?

Some people have gotten frustrated about the “Other” files listed as taking up space in recent versions of OS X. To see what I mean, click on the Apple Menu in the upper-left corner of your screen and choose “About This Mac.”

Click on “More Info” on the subsequent window if you don’t see something that looks like my screenshot below, but then you’ll click on the “Storage” tab once you get there.

So my computer is using about 35GB worth of space for this “Other” category. What the heck is it? Well, a quick perusal of Apple’s support pages gives us the answer:

About This Mac uses this category to count any files that aren’t recognized as one of the other listed file types (audio, movie, photos, apps, backups). Examples of files that may be calculated as “other” include:

Items in the OS X folders such as the System folder and caches
Personal information such as documents, contacts, calendar data
App Plugins or extensions
Media files that cannot be classified by Spotlight as a media file because they are located inside of a package
File types not recognized by Spotlight

What I’ve bolded there is the important part—documents. So anything that’s not listed in the distinct categories of movies, photos, audio, and so on is lumped into the “Other” section, including all of your PDFs, Word files, spreadsheets, and so on. Seems simple once it’s explained, doesn’t it? I think, though, that Apple’s been a bit confusing in their naming here, which is why I’ve had a bunch of users be freaked out about what “Other” is and what they need to do about it, if anything. I sure wish Apple had called it something else. “All Other Documents,” maybe?

In any case, you can easily figure out for sure what’s eating up your space by employing a third-party utility to do so. OmniDiskSweeper is my personal favorite because I like its interface:

Once you find out where your space is going, you can decide where best to start cleaning stuff up if you need to. As always, though, I caution you not to delete anything if you don’t know what it is, especially if it’s outside your user folder or within your hidden Library folder. Unless you really like impromptu visits to the Genius Bar, that is.