How to Clear Purgeable Space on Mac

Clear reserved space easily by restarting

What to Know

  • Click Apple logo > About This Mac > Storage > Manage to optimize your storage.
  • Try rebooting to clear temporary files.
  • Remove caches manually by clicking Finder > Go > Library > Caches to find the files.

This article explains three different methods for clearing the purgeable space on Mac and why it's helpful to do so.

How Do I Reclaim Purgeable Space on Mac?

One of the simplest ways to reclaim purgeable space is by checking out the Optimize Mac Storage setting on your Mac. Through the Optimize Mac Storage options, you can save a lot of storage space by following Apple's recommendations. 

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple logo in the top left of the screen.

    MacOS desktop with Apple icon highlighted
  2. Click About This Mac.

    MacOS desktop with About This Mac highlighted
  3. Click Storage.

    MacOS desktop with Storage highlighted on About This Mac
  4. Click Manage.

    MacOS desktop with Manage Storage highlighted
  5. Click through the options available to you to conserve space.

    MacOS's Optimize Mac Storage screen

How Do I Reclaim Purgeable Space on Mac by Rebooting?

There might be plenty of different ways to delete files and clear purgeable space manually, but one of the simplest methods is to reboot your Mac. Here's how to do so. The method typically clears out temporary items, and many caches meaning your purgeable space should reduce temporarily.

  1. Click the Apple logo on your desktop.

    MacOS desktop with Apple icon highlighted
  2. Click Restart.

    MacOS desktop with Restart highlighted on Apple Menu
  3. Click Restart again.

    MacOS desktop with Restart highlighted on Restart dialog
  4. Your Mac will now restart having cleared many of its temporary files in the meantime.

How Do I Reclaim Purgeable Space on Mac by Clearing the Cache?

If you'd prefer to clear the cache manually or you don't want to restart your Mac, here's how to clear the cache on macOS.

Experts generally recommend leaving macOS to handle temporary files by itself and reboot rather than delve into them yourself.

  1. Click Finder.

    MacOS desktop with Finder icon highlighted
  2. Hold down the Option key and click Go.

    MacOS Finder with Go button highlighted
  3. Click Library.

  4. Click Caches.

    MacOS Finder with Caches folder highlighted
  5. Choose which caches to delete. It's possible to remove all if you so wish.

  6. Empty the trash can to remove the temporary files permanently.

What Is Purgeable Memory?

Purgeable memory is a type of storage macOS uses to refer to files or documents that are possible for the operating system to remove if more space is needed. It's a form of redundancy feature so that macOS can always choose to free up more space if required.

Purgeable memory includes locally stored copies of items in iCloud, cached data and temporary system files, full-resolution versions of photos stored in iCloud, locally stored Time Machine data, and anything else needed to be stored temporarily.

What Does Purgeable Space Mean on Mac?

If you go to About This Mac > Storage and view your hard drive's contents, you'll notice a certain amount of space referred to as Purgeable. This purgeable space is only removed when needed by the operating system. It rarely needs to be removed manually.

Can I Use Third-Party Apps to Clear Purgeable Space?

If you'd prefer to use a third-party app rather than delve into settings yourself, something like Disk Cleaner can help a lot here, clearing out temporary files and potentially providing you with more hard drive space. Typically, few macOS users need to do this unless free space is quite limited. 

  • How often do I need to clear my Mac's purgeable space?

    After you've enabled your Mac's optimize-storage recommendations, you don't have to delete any files manually. Your Mac automatically removes purgeable files when space is needed. You can, however, remove clutter by deleting unwanted files on your Mac, such as duplicate files, programs you no longer use, and files left over after you've uninstalled a program.

  • I'm running OS X El Capitan. How do I clear purgeable space?

    Apple introduced the idea of purgeable space in macOS Sierra. If you're running an older macOS or OS X version, consider updating your macOS. Otherwise, you'll need to free up space manually by deleting old files, unneeded email attachments, and other types of digital clutter.

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