How to get back gigabytes of Mac disk space by deleting unused Steam games

Recently my 13 year old son wanted to install some new software on his Mac but found that he didn't have a lot of disk space. Surprising, given that his Mac mini came with a 320 GB hard drive. So we did some snooping around and discovered the culprit: dozens of gigabytes of space taken up with games that were installed using Valve's Steam software. We deleted what he wasn't using and freed up more than 80 GB! Here's how you can do the same:

  • Open your Applications folder and double-click on Steam to open the app.
  • Click on the Library tab at the top of the Steam window.
  • All the games in white are ones that have been installed locally. The greyed out ones are linked to your account, but not installed.
  • Find the game you want to delete, then command click the game name.
  • Select Delete Local Content...
  • Click the Delete button to confirm.

Steam is a little unusual, in that it doesn't stick downloaded games in the regular Applications folder. Even if you tell it to create an alias when the game is installed, that's all it's doing - Steam is putting a pointer file in the Applications folder, not the full app. Out of sight is out of mind, so some folks forget about the game files themselves when they move on to other pastimes. This is the most surgical way to delete locally stored Steam games you no longer want to play.

If you've deleted Steam, or you no longer have an active account and want to remove those files manually, there's a way to do it yourself:

  • Go to the Finder.
  • Hold down the option key and select the Go menu.
  • Select Library.
  • Open Application Support.
  • Locate the Steam folder.
  • You can delete that folder to get rid of the local files Steam has stored.

That's it! Hopefully you can get back some space you've lost from games that you don't play anymore.

Does this help you get back any disk space? Have any other ideas for how to shrink the amount of unused stuff on your Mac? Let me know in the comments.

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

How to get back gigabytes of Mac disk space by deleting unused Steam games

5 Comments

Hmm, I think I'll try that. Good tip. The bit that puzzles me is that on my MacBook Air (2013 model) with a 256GB SSD, About This Mac shows 52GB of movie files under Storage. But I don't have any movies on the local drive. All my movies are on an external drive. I've checked my local iTunes folder and that is under 1.2GB. So as I said, a bit of a puzzle?

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