iOS Files Are Taking Space on Mac

Back when you bought your new Mac, you probably looked at the specs and the hard drive size may have been one of the more important items that you considered. You probably chose one that you thought would give you plenty of room for as long as you used it.

You felt you had more than enough space, but it never seems to fail. With all the pictures, video, music, and other data, your drive fills up and you are soon looking to delete things to create more. Thankfully the iOS files on your drive are safe to delete.

I’m Eric, a longtime software engineer, and a fairly new Mac user. I am always trying to learn things about Mac systems and devices. As I do, I enjoy writing about them and passing the information on to others. Cleaning out file systems is a topic I have been recently looking at.

If you would like to learn some more about iOS files and whether or not it is truly safe to delete them, keep reading below and I will let you in on the information I have learned. 

Is It Safe to Delete Them?

My quick answer above indicated that it is safe to delete iOS files and for the most part that is true. With that being said, there is always some risk to deleting any files from your computer. 

Some like these, pose very little, but it’s never a good idea to just go around removing stuff without knowing what it is first. It’s often necessary to remove data and files to clear space on your Mac, just do a little research first so that you know what you’re getting into.

Ultimately that is why you are here in the first place. You want to find out if it is ok to delete these files because you may have seen that they take a pretty good chunk of space. It is safe to do this. Removing them will not cause your computer to crash or have issues.

The only worry would be if you were to need these files in the future. If you are worried about that you could possibly store them somewhere else such as on a flash drive or a cloud drive. Before you do that, I will explain what they are and then you can decide if you need them.

What are iOS Files?

If you don’t already know, you may be wondering what these iOS files actually are and why they take up so much space. There is a very simple answer for this and it has to do with using your Mac to back up your other Apple devices such as your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.

Many of us use our Macs to backup our other Apple devices. It’s easy, right? You just plug them into your Mac and do a quick simple backup. The problem is, that over time these backup files can consume a very large amount of space.

Just think about it. If you have just a 32 Gb iPhone which is only half full of data, the space to back up that phone on your Mac will be quite large. Even though some backup systems can compress and shrink the data, you will still create a file that is over 8 – 16 Gb.

If you have multiple backups, that space can add up very quickly. The good news is if you remove these backup files you can gain that space back rather quickly as well.

Using your Mac to backup your devices is a good thing and I am not saying that you shouldn’t do it, but it is good to manage your backups and only keep the most recent or the ones you know you will need. 

After all, using your Mac to backup your device makes it quite easy to restore your phone if you need to do so, but there are also other options you can look at like iCloud.

Where are They Located?

If you haven’t already found them, you can do so by clicking on the Apple symbol and selecting About This Mac. In the window, click on the Storage tab and then the manage button. 

You will see various categories of files in the pane located on the left side of the window. Look for the one called iOS Files.

Each category shows how much space it is using and when clicking on it you can then see the files and how much space each of them uses. If you keep reading below I will give you the steps needed to delete the files if you decide to do so yourself.

How do I Decide Which Backups are Important?

Before you go deleting everything, you may want to evaluate what you have and figure out what, if any, you need to keep. There’s no definitive answer I can give you as to what backups are important and what you should hold on to, this will be different for each person.

I do have a few guidelines that I can suggest. If the backup files are over a year old, and your device is still working fine, there is probably no reason to keep them, especially if you have more recent backups. If you don’t have a recent backup, I suggest creating a new one

Also if there are backups for devices you no longer have, those should be ok to remove as well. If you have copied or made newer backups to iCloud or some other cloud service you probably don’t need those either.

In each case, you will want to evaluate whether or not those backup files will be of any use to you. If your phone dies and you need to restore it, will one of those backups do the job? If so then you should keep those particular ones but old ones that will not help you can go.

Just use caution and common sense when making the decisions. Don’t delete a backup you just made before upgrading the current iOS of your phone, but don’t keep one from 5 years ago that was 10 iOS versions back or it was for an old iPad that you no longer use.

How to Delete Them

Deleting your old unneeded iOS files is fairly simple and will only take you a few minutes. Just follow the steps below:

Step 1: Click on the Apple symbol in the top left corner of your screen and then select About this Mac.

Step 2: When the About this Mac window opens, click on the Storage tab.

Step 3: Click on the Manage button and you will then see the categories of files in the pane on the left side of the window.

Step 4: Click on the iOS category to select it and you will see the list of iOS files on the right side of the screen.

Step 5: Select the one that you wish to get rid of and click on the Delete button to move it to the trash.

Step 6: Remember to empty your trash to permanently delete it from your machine.

Note: If you do not see any iOS files or an iOS section when you go to Manage your disk space, don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with your system. It just means that you currently don’t have any backup files stored on your system.

If you need information on how to use your Mac to back up your iPhone you can find it from Apple Support.

Final Words

When you are trying to clean up your Mac and create some more disk space there are a number of areas that you might look at to delete files. The iOS area and the backup files contained in it are one area where you can remove files and quickly create space.

Just be sure to do a little investigation first and make sure they are not backup files that you are going to need. Keep the ones you need and then get rid of the ones that are no longer useful and you should be able to gain the space you are looking for.

As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you!

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