Awesome New Way to Check Free Disk Space on Mac Lion

Mac OS X Lion includes a awesome new way to check the free space on a disc. I stumbled across this feature by accident. Besides showing the size of the disk and how much free space it has, this method shows graphically how much space is being used for different types of files.

Screenshot of Checking Disk Size and Free Disk Space on OS X Lion using About This Mac

The new way to check free disk space on OS X Lion

Get the Size and Free Space of the Mac’s Hard Disk on Lion

Here’s how you show your disk’s free space on OSX 10.7, step-by-step:

  1. Go to the Apple menu. Click the Apple icon at the top-left of the screen.
  2.  Click About This Mac at the top of the menu.
    The About This Mac window will appear.
  3. Click the More Info… button.
    A new About This Mac window will appear with a picture of your Mac.
  4. Click the word Storage towards the top left of the window.
  5. An attractive window showing your free disk space will appear.
    The display includes how much disk space is used for each of your music, movies, photos, apps, and backup files.

This feature works with your main Mac hard disc, usually called “Macintosh HD“. It does not work with removable hard drives. It might work with other permanently connected hard disks installed in your Mac – I haven’t tested this yet.

Get the Size of a Removable Hard Disk with Mac OS X Lion

The method above doesn’t work for removable hard drives on Lion. The Snow Leopard method I use doesn’t work either – in Lion, disks aren’t listed on the side of a Finder window as they are in Snow Leopard.

Image of a Get Info window, used tind out the size and free space for a disk on Mac OS X 10.7 Lion using the Finder's Get Info command

Get a disk's size and free space using "Get Info" on Mac OS X Lion

Here’s an alternative method to find a disk’s size and free space on Lion that that works for removable disks and network drives:

  1. Go to Finder: Click the smiley blue Mac face at the left end of the Dock. The dock is the bar of icons, usually at the bottom of the screen, used to start programs.
  2. Click Go at the top of the screen to open the Go menu. Click the menu item “Computer“.
  3. A list of disks connected to your computer will appear in a window, with some other items like “Network“.
  4. Click the disk once whose size or free space you want to find out. Just click it once, not a double click.
  5. Click the File menu at the top left of the screen. Click the Get Info menu item.
  6. A window will appear with information about the disk. Look at the “Capacity” field for the disk’s size, and the “Available” field for how much free space the disk has.

Thank You!

If you have a question or comment about check disk size and free space on Mac, please use the comment form at the bottom of the page.

If you found this article useful, please link to it from your website or blog, click the Like or +1 button to help others find this page.

Thanks for visiting!

Tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

57 Responses to Awesome New Way to Check Free Disk Space on Mac Lion

  1. Kocho says:

    Actually, I just tried the first method, and it shows disk space for all external HD…

    • Tasman Hayes says:


      Great to know!

      I want to work out when Mac shows this for a drive and when it doesn’t. It may have to do with whether Spotlight indexes the documents on the drive.

      Are your external HDs plugged in before starting your Mac, or did you plug them in after you Mac was running.

      Thanks Kocho!

    • Mike Bruins says:

      I think something weird is going on.
      Do you know what is taking up the 83 Gigs of “Other” storage?
      My Lion system reports 100 Gigs total usage.
      68 Gigs of that can’t be found using unix file commands such as “du”.
      Only 32 Gigs found, of which 18 Gigs is Users files.
      0 Gigs in “Backups”. Time Machine Local Snapshots is OFF.

      • Sagar says:

        I´ve got the very same problem, any way I could see which are those other files and delete them. They´re quite a problem because it takes 140Gigs of memory. I´ve hot mountainlion OS 10.8.

  2. Calvin Tripp says:

    How can you see space available in a Finder Window in OS 10.7. The older OS let you free space at bottom of Finder Window.

  3. Mike says:

    I was pretty upset about this at first. You actually can add your HD back to the list on the left of the Finder menu (where it was on SL). On the Finder Menu Bar click Go, Computer. Then drag and drop the Mac HD item over to the left.

    Now every time you open Finder, your HD will be there. I think this is the easiest way to check HD space.

  4. Adib says:

    Hi, thank you for the info. I just want to know about the ‘other’ in the Macintosh HD. What are they? Thank you.

    • Tasman Hayes says:


      Great question!

      The “Other” section of the Mac disk usage display is documents that don’t fit in the other classifications, like Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF. It also includes files that it probably doesn’t recognize. In my case my giant “Other section” is due to bunch of proprietary virtual musical instrument libraries (e.g. a beautiful sampled Steinway D Grand Piano), and perhaps VMware virtual machines – a technology I use to run Linux and Windows on my Mac when I need them.

      Most people would have a much smaller “Other” section.


  5. anisa says:

    This shows different available space to the ‘macintosh HD’?
    When go to ‘about this mac’ the hard drive space available is about 10GB less than the hard drive available space when i click open macintosh HD and check the bottom of the window??? any ideas anyone???

    Thanks in advance. I’m new to mac have had windows all my life until about 3 weeks now. Macbook Air 2011. 256SSD corei7

    • Tasman Hayes says:


      I tried comparing on mine.

      The “About This Mac” way of shows 45.14 GB free disk space.
      The “Get Info” on “Macintosh HD” way 45.61 GB free.

      So they’re quite close, not different by 10 GB like yours.

      I check if perhaps one way counts files in the Trash and the other doesn’t, but this isn’t the case.

      To display the pretty disk usage display in About This Mac, a lot of information needs to be condensed, such as the size and type of every file on the disk. Perhaps this information got a little out of date on your Mac, e.g. you just deleted some files and it hadn’t caught up.

      The About This Mac is useful as a diagnostic display: “I need some free space. What’s taking up all the space on my hard disk. Oh, it’s mostly movies. Oh, I’ve already watched a lot of them. Maybe I can trash some now.”

      I’d use Macintosh HD way for most up-to-date free space measurement. I’d use the Storage tab in System Information for working out what you need to delete to make free space.

      Does this help Anisa?


      • anisa says:

        Hey Taz,

        Sorry been away on holiday, yes it does help a lot!! thank you for responding. I think your right, because when i delete big files (movies) the Macintosh HD displays the updated HD space immediately but the ‘about this mac’ takes time to catch up.

        I have noticed that if i go into ‘activity monitor’ and watch the HD space… i can see it catching up, but very slow. This must the be the intelligent cleaning feature.

        I have even spoke to apple about this but they had no idea as to why the difference was, i never had this on windows pc’s before and didn’t know which would be the correct HD space to look at for accurate measurement of space left. They told me ‘about this mac’ would be correct, but it’s not.

  6. Joe says:

    What does the region classified as “Other” represent?

  7. Peter says:

    There is no “Show Status Bar” under View when the HD is selected.
    However, if you open a new window and then to to View, Show Status Bar is then available


  8. Carlos says:

    Greeting Tas! When I check my free space with the first option in shows me that I have almost 80Gbs on backups, but if I go and check it with the get info way I have all that space free or available, Do you know what could it be? Thanks

    • Tasman Hayes says:


      It’s a very good question. It’s worth an article-like answer. I might move this into the main article later. :-)

      What is the Backup Area in the Storage Tab of About This Mac?

      Apple introduced an enhancement in Mac OS X Lion that if Time Machine can’t access your backup disk (e.g. external USB hard drive), it takes backups of changed files locally. Time Machine runs every hour, so it would take a copy of every file that’s changed in that hour. If you’re moving big files on and off your Mac (e.g. iTunes movie or TV show rentals), TimeMachine might be keep copies of them. If you’re doing media production and editing (image, sound or video work), these big files can change, and that can result in a really big backup area showing. Also if you just have 80GB of files added or deleted from your Mac – they’ll all sit in the backup area until you connect your TimeMachine backup disk or Time Capsule.

      Once you connect your Time Capsule backup disk or volume on the network (e.g. on a TimeCapsule), the backups kept on your local flash storage / SSD / hard disk will get transferred to the Time Machine backup volume, and the space will be reclaimed.

      Why does About This Mac show I’ve got a Big Backup Area, when this space is free / available using Get Info on my Macintosh HD?

      It seems that the graphical display of different types of files (audio, movies, photos, apps, backups, other) is not updated in real-time. It’s probably updated when some background process crawls your hard disk, categorizing the files and adding up their sizes. (Perhaps Spotlight’s search indexing.) So the graphical disc usage and disc free space display has a lag from the current status.

      I’m guessing you connected your Time Machine backup disk, TimeMachine backed up the data, the space for keeping the backups locally got reclaimed. The Get Info area shows the current free disk space, so it’s free of the 80GB of backups. The About This Mac free disk space method is a bit behind, so it still shows the backup files.

      Another option is you turned Time Machine off. I haven’t tested this, but this could cause the backups taken on the local hard disk to be discarded.

      An unlikely possibility is that Get Info doesn’t include the space for backups. This is unlikely as backups on the local disk do consume hard disk space.

      So that’s my theory. Of course there are other possibilities.

      Carlos, I suggest check the About This Mac Storage tab again, and see if the backup area size has diminished.

      Hope this helps!

  9. sl says:

    It is my observation that yes, turning off Time Machine does discard the backups on the local disk. If you want to disable them altogether but still leave the Time Machine setting to “On” when your external TM-drive is disconnected you can issue this command from a Terminal:
    sudo tmutil disablelocal
    I think this does not stick if you do toggle Time Machine off and on, you need to reissue the command after turning it back on.

  10. Quinn says:

    Thanks Peter! …and Sid! I thought removing the status bar was an amazingly dumb thing to do and was my biggest issue with Lion, I can deal with the FCPx-Lion glitches until they update.

    Great forum Tas, I’ll be back!

  11. Alessio says:

    Thanks man!
    Just bought a new macbook with lion inside and couldn’t check how much disk space was left cuz in Snow Leopard the amount of space was under the windows in the finder, that this was driving me crazy!!!

    Thanks again!

  12. ryan w says:

    I also have 60+ gigs of other in my hard drive – i have no idea what it could be. but i got this program that shows its 60 gigs of documents and I’ve never typed a letter on here, don’t have word or anything else. – how can i get rid of it?

  13. bob says:

    thanks for the helpful article! however, i had a question. what things consist under “other” that takes up so much space for macintosh hd?

  14. Cheryl says:


    Another ‘other’ problem … we have 200GB of ‘other’ and I have no idea what it is or how to locate what it believes is other.

    Any ideas?

    Thank You

  15. Peachy says:

    Hi there! What is this “others” part all about? It seems to be using much of my Mac’s capacity? Please bear with me, I’m just new with using Mac.

    Thanks so much.

  16. Peachy says:

    Oh! so stupid of me not to read all the comments here…. it must be the Word, excel etc. …

    Thanks so much!

  17. Chris Fraser says:

    Thanks Sid. So easy. Great!

  18. Sera Utopia says:

    There’s a small app out there to check all your drives’ free space in menu bar.
    It can also eject all drives in 1 click!

  19. nik says:

    I have a question why is it that the level of free memory using a “new method “(when i check it by means of th clicking on top left icon and etc )is diferent from the level of free memory when i checking it through clicking on info of the disk ?

  20. zach says:

    hi – i’m trying to figure out why my storage info says i’ve got over 100 gb of “backup” type media on my hard drive. i do time machine backups on an external hd, and can’t figure out why there’s so much memory devoted to backups on my hd. i’d like to purge it – how can i find it?


  21. Don says:

    Is there a way to change files so that they are not defined as “Other”? I have a nearly full hard drive that shows as 60% Other. I am wondering if the majority of this could be my Adobe DNG raw image files.

    • Daxx says:

      The category allocation is determined by Spotlight indexing. The “Other” category includes system files, settings, preferences, all of your documents, plus garbage generated by the system itself.

      The best way to get a clearer reading is to boot HD Recovery by holding the option key on startup, run Disk Utlities by performing a Disk Verify AND a Permissions Repair.

      Once you quit and reboot back into your system, zap the Pram by holding down Cmnd-Opt-P-R keys on startup and wait until you hear the chimes FIVE times before you let go. This will clear out any system garbage.

      You should find that the “Other” category has been adjusted. The results will vary on how many times you’ve done any of this. In the end, at the very least, your mac will now be a little bit zippier than before.

      And finally, go into Spotlight’s prefs and turn off System Preferences, Events and To Do’s, web pages, fonts, presentations, spreadsheets, contacts, pdf docs, and anything else that you think would be irrelevant to your needs or Spotlight searches.

      Hope this helps.

  22. shi.yingda says:

    Thank you!

  23. Tasman Hayes says:

    Shi, you’re welcome. :-)

  24. Lisa says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’m glad Apple finally decided to consolidate this information, but would’ve taken me forever to figure it out.

  25. steve says:

    thanks for posting all these methods for finding hdd space. the strange thing is that none of them will show me what i have on my time capsule. would you know what might be causing this?

  26. Bob says:

    I don’t know what kind of Lion you’re running, but your directions won’t wok for me.

    In Apple>About This Mac, there is no More Info button. There IS a System Report button, which does what the More Info button used to do on SL.
    And after clicking System Report, there is no Storage item on the left.

    2011 MBP 2.3
    OS X 10.7.2

  27. Hew MacIntosh says:

    Thanks for the information. However, I would like to know what is included in the grouping ‘Other’. I have a MacBook Air, 64GB, so space is important. I have about 20GB in the grouping ‘Other’ so it would be good to know how this grouping is put together because applications, such as MacKeeper tell me that I have more space than the above method is showing me.

  28. jimmy says:

    i have used the method hereby described and i have found out that most of the space on my hard disc is used on “other” ….some of the space is used for movies, some for audio, some for photos….but most of it for “other”….any chance to find out what this other is? i am running out of free space and if i know what “other” is…i could maybe avoid deleting my music, movies and photos…and delete some of the “other” instead…wow!

  29. Louis says:

    When I open up the “Get Info” page for my home folder, it tells me that it contains over 980 GB, but inside, it contains only 8 folders, each one with a size no greater than 8 GB. It seems like it’s hiding something from me. Can someone help?

  30. Moti Hamou says:

    Thanks a lot, so simple yet Iam not getting used to mac.. I wonder if my why of thinking is so structured or that mac os x is not so intuitive..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *