Some Easy Fixes for “Your Mac is Running Low on Space”

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Some free, easy actions for the Parallels Desktop® for Mac user to solve “Your Mac is running low on Space.”

If you’ve ever seen one of these dialogs or notifications, you know how scary they can be and how bad things can get if you ignore them:

In Your Windows VM

There are a variety of Mac® utilities you can purchase to help you deal with this situation, but the Parallels Desktop user already has some easy actions that can help—and there is nothing additional to buy. I’ll organize the discussion of these actions according to whether they are done in your Windows virtual machine (VM) or on your Mac.

Since you have Parallels Desktop, you can install Parallels® Toolbox for Windows in your Windows VM (even in all Windows VMs you have). In the order in which you should use them, here are the tools that will help free up some space on your Mac.

Parallels Toolbox Tool

What the Tool Does

Archive

Compresses any file or folder that you choose. The type of file will determine how much space the tool will save.

Clean Drive

Searches your drive and finds files that can conceivably be deleted. This often results in significant savings. (Figure 1 shows the Clean Drive results for my Windows 10 VM, my MacBook Pro®, and my iMac®.)

Figure 1_Clean Drive results for three different locations

Then there is the Windows utility, Disk Cleanup. Be sure to check the “System Files” option at the bottom of the window, as shown in Figure 2. Note that I decided to remove the files that enable me to roll back from a recent Windows Update. Deleting these system files frees up a lot of space, but you do lose the ability to undo a Windows Update.

Windows Utility

What the Utility Does

Disk Cleanup

Frees up disk space by removing system files and other temporary data. See Figure 2.

Figure 2_Using Disk Cleanup, a Windows utility

 

On Your Mac

To ensure that all the work you just did in your Windows VM actually frees up space on your Mac, you need to check the General tab of the Configuration dialog. In Figure 3, the yellow area is the reclaimable space—5.4 GB in my case. To reclaim this space so that it’s available to the Mac, just click the “Reclaim…” button. (Note that this VM must not be running for this button to be active.)

Figure 3_Check to see if your Windows VM has any Reclaimable Space

Since you have Parallels Desktop, you can install Parallels Toolbox on your Mac as well. In the order in which you should use them, here are the tools that will help free up some space on your Mac.

Parallels Toolbox Tool

What the Tool Does

Find Duplicates

Scans your Mac for duplicate files. When the scan is complete, you will see a list of all the duplicates; you can decide which to keep and which to delete. This tool can potentially recover lots of space, as you can see in Figure 4.

Archive

Compresses any file or folder that you choose. The type of file will determine how much space the tool will save.

Clean Drive

Searches your drive and finds items that can conceivably be deleted. This often results in significant savings. (Figure 1 shows the Clean Drive results for my Windows 10 VM, my MacBook Pro, and my iMac.)

Figure 4. The Find Duplicates dialog detailing the results of the search for duplicates

These are the tools and utilities that the Parallels Desktop user already has to recover space on your Mac, and I hope they recover enough space for you. If not, there are other utilities—both from Apple® and third parties—that can possibly recover more space.

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Kurt has been a Mac developer since before the Mac came out. Today he is the Senior Product Manager at Parallels where he works on both Parallels Desktop for Mac and Parallels Access. Prior to Parallels, he was the Senior Mac Evangelist in the Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) at Microsoft Corp. Kurt is the author of three books and has lectured internationally on object-oriented programming, UI design, and virtualization. Kurt is also a Microsoft Office for Mac and iOS Accredited Support Professional for 2014 and 2015. Outside of work, Kurt has been a fencer for many years, has four times been a member of the US team at the world championships, and has also been the coach of the US team: http://www.naginata.org.

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