Tuesday, 28 June 2011

How to find the biggest files on Mac or Windows

After a large amount of time, chances are that your hard drive will be cluttered with large files that you don't really need or use anymore. Or, it may just be the case that you need some extra hard/ss (solid state) drive space. Often times people use applications to find out which files are taking up the most space on your computer so that you can delete them. However, here are some tricks that you can use on the fly (sort of) to find the biggest files that are taking up the most space on your computer and delete them.

How to find big files on a Mac:

The trick on a mac is to use the command line application called find, in conjunction with the sort application to sort the largest files on your hard drive.

  1. First, open Terminal (Applications > Utilities > Terminal)
  2. Type in the following command (note, change 10 to the number of largest files you wish to see, changing it to a smaller number may give faster results depending on how much stuff you have on your hard/ssd drive)
  3. find . -type f -exec du {} \; | sort -nr | head -10
  4. Wait for a few minutes while your Mac scours your hard drive for large files
After a while, the terminal window will display the largest files on your mac.

On Windows, the trick that you can use is to search (Start Butt for files that are of a large size in your personal folders (My Documents, My Music, My Pictures and so on). Just select the size option to search for the largest files on your computer like so:

Hope this helps!

Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to beyondteck+question@gmail.com and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!


  1. You'll probably get similar results with

    du -k / | sort -nr | more

    But a good use of the find command is found in your post. Good work!

  2. I use find on linux but on mac I use a tool called "toucan search" (available on the mac app store), it's like find but with a gui so it's easier to use.

    If I want to delete big files that I don't need anymore (.dmg or other), I just type * in the search bar (it's a wildcard that means "everything") and then I sort the files by size, select files that I don't need anymore and then delete them. It's a lot faster than find (because the files are indexed) and it lets you delete files (so you don't have to copy all the file names and delete them with the rm command).

    I wrote "toucan search"; here are some links:
    Here's a video presentation: