What is the "Other" space on my Mac?

All of your audio is accounted for distinctly. So is the space used to store apps, photos, movies, even backup files that get queued up when your Mac is away from its Time Capsule or Time Machine backup drive. So what's "Other?"

D.M. writes:

I have 15.51GB of other, and 8.31GB of movies on my MacBook Air. I have no idea what so ever what 'other' is. I also have no movies on my Mac. I've deleted all messages, all emails and there's nothing in the Downloads.

"Other" is a catchall OS X uses to describe a whole bunch of stuff stored on your Mac's hard disk. The operating system files and any caches or logs that are created is included in that list, for example. Any app plug-ins (for Safari and Firefox, for example) or extensions that you've installed go in that category. Any files or documents you've created are also included in "Other." Media files that are dependent on other things — media files stored inside of application packages, say — are included in "Other." So are any additional filetype that Spotlight can't identify.

The amount of space you use with Other is going to vary dramatically depending on how many third-party apps you have installed, how many files and documents you've created and saved to your disk, and how large the cache files are. OS X handles those cache files as part of its routine housekeeping, so you shouldn't feel the need to do anything with them yourself.

On my Mac, I have almost 80 GB worth of files that are accounted for as "Other." So your 15 GB is looking pretty good to me!

  • Porn. :) j/k
  • So, essentially, you don't know what it is, either. ;)
  • Lol Sent from the iMore App
  • So how do I find out what it is and how to delete it? My 128gb MBA only has 64gb after my Windows 7 partition, and 30gb of that is "other" storage. So half my space is gone and I can't find out what I need to delete to free that space up. Not to mention it says I have several gigs worth of movies and music, when there's really none. I think WhatSize may help tell me what's eating up this storage space but I keep getting an error when I try to buy it. Going by the title of this article, I thought it'd help me figure it out but I guess I expected too much. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I have like 160 gb of others
  • I download a lot of iOS apps when they're temporarily free, most I don't use yet they remain in my iTunes library. Same for apps I've bought, especially kids apps, that we no longer use. Periodically I'll delete all the apps in iTunes which once saved me 50gb from "Other" storage. Also credited to "Other" are media you've rented in iTunes. Once you're done with the rental period, the movie file package may remain but unplayable. Unsupported media files like .mkv register as "Other". Same for Spotify offline playlists.
  • Of all the things I've tried to get rid of 'other', one thing that worked beautifully for me was the following: 1. Open up iTunes on your PC/Mac
    2. Connect your iOS device via USB
    3. Select the option 'Transfer Purchases From "[yourdevicename]"' If you're running Yosemite, you can find this option under 'File' > 'Devices' > 'Transfer Purchases From "[yourdevicename]"'. This is also available on older versions of iTunes, but I can't remember how to find it on those versions. You may need to give the transfer some time to complete, but it seems to look for partially-downloaded or orphaned files/apps and purge as many of them as possible. I hope this works for some of you, as well.
  • For some odd reason when I hook up my iPhone 6+ and then went to the menu item you mentioned I saw only my iPad was listed (and it was dimmed), not my iPhone, even though the device icon in iTunes shows both iPad and iPhone are connected. [Update] Okay, I realized that I needed to actually select my iPhone in order for this to be attempted. I did what you suggested, but it didn't change the amount of "other" still being used on my iPhone. I did the same with my iPad and had the same result.
  • I have 157GB of 'Other'.
    I'm guessing it's just general files that don't come under the basic categories. DaisyDisk easily revealed what these files were, mainly large DMG's, ISO's and RARs.