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macOS Shows Wrong Free Space in Disk Utility/Finder/Storage

Updated on Saturday, April 20, 2024

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

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Amanda Wong
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Jessica Shee

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 How to Fix Mac Storage Showing Incorrectly

Summary: You may find problems that macOS Disk Utility shows wrong free space, macOS Sonoma/Ventura reports different free space in Finder, Disk Utility, Storage, etc. Read this post for proven solutions. If you need to remove unnecessary files on Mac, try iBoysoft DiskGeeker.

macos shows different wrong free space

It is necessary to know how much free disk space is on the Macintosh HD or external drives before you update macOS, download apps on Mac, install macOS on external drives, transfer files between Mac and external disks, etc. Insufficient free disk space could lead to errors on your Mac.

You can choose a way below to check free disk space on Mac either the internal drive or the external drive:

FinderOpen the Finder, click the Macintosh HD or the name of the external drive on the sidebar, and click Get Info.
Disk UtilityLaunch Disk Utility from Finder > Applications > Utilities, and tap the drive name on the sidebar to display the info on the right.
Storage tabClick the Apple menu > About This Mac > More Info > Storage Settings. Or, head to the Apple menu > System Settings > General > Storage. Click the All Volumes button to see the storage information of external drives
System InformationHold down the Option key and click the Apple logo, choose System Information, and under the Hardware section, choose Storage.
Quick LookClick the drive icon on the desktop, and press the Space key.
TerminalRun the command df -h in the Terminal app to check free disk space.

However, some Mac users report that macOS shows the wrong free space, such as: 

  • Deleting files doesn't free up space on Mac
  • Disk Utility shows the wrong free space
  • External hard drive not showing correct free space on Mac
  • Finder, Disk Utility, and Storage tab show different free space in macOS 
  • The Finder shows more available space than the Disk Utility

In this post, we are going to explore possible solutions to fix incorrect free space on Mac.

Workable Solutions to Mac storage showing incorrectlyEffectivenessDifficulty Level
Empty the TrashLowEasy
Restart your MacLowEasy
Remove purgeable spaceHighMedium
Try Safe ModeMediumMedium
Erase local snapshotsHighMedium
Reindex SpotlightMediumMedium
Repair the driveMediumEasy

Table of Contents:

Share this post with people who encounter macOS showing the wrong free space!


Why macOS reports incorrect free disk space

I'm in the process of installing Windows 10 on my Macbook Pro (macOS 10.13.4/17E202, 256 GB of storage, no partition), but Boot Camp says I need at least 40 GB of storage.

So I freed up some space by removing some files, and "About My Mac" now shows almost 100 GB of free space on my Mac. However, the Disk Utility shows only 33 GB of free storage... 3 times less.

Generally, the free disk space on the Macintosh HD or the external drive should be the same no matter the ways you choose to check it. Unexpectedly, the amount of free space in Disk Utility is different from that of Finder, or the Storage tab. Perhaps, you know the correct free space on the drive it should be but Mac reports a wrong number.

macos shows different wrong free space

According to the discussion in forums, the reasons are mostly likely the local snapshot of Time Machine, the purgeable space on Mac, system glitches, disk errors, etc.

Fix macOS Disk Utility/Finder/Storage shows the wrong free space

For the error Mac storage showing incorrectly, there are many fixes. Before choosing one of the remedies, it is crucial to back up your data. Then you can proceed to fix incorrect free disk space in Disk Utility, Finder, and the Storage tab.

Empty the Trash

Perhaps, the culprit of the incorrect free space on the Mac hard drive is the deleted files remained in the Trash. Although you delete files on Mac, those items are just moved to the Trash folder, and they still occupy the disk space. Therefore, you find the free space doesn't increase. Just emptying the Trash to completely delete files on Mac.

Restart your Mac

When the Disk Utility shows the wrong free space on your Mac, it could be caused by temporary system glitches. Try to disconnect the external hard drive and reconnect it to your Mac, quit the Disk Utility app, and open it again. If it doesn't work, restart your Mac to give it a fresh start.

Remove purgeable space

If you find the amount of free disk space in Disk Utility is less than that in Finder and the Storage tab, there could be purgeable space on the drive, which controls less significant files and documents that can be erased automatically when additional space is required. Finder calculates the available space as purgeable space plus free space, but Disk Utility subtracts the purgeable storage from the free storage.

purgeable space

You can remove purgeable space with iBoysoft DiskGeeker:

  1. Download and install iBoysoft DiskGeeker.
  2. Select the target drive/volume from the startup disk.
  3. Click Clean Junk from the right toolbar.clean junk
  4. Select a folder from the left to view the contents inside.
  5. Select purgeable files and click Clean > OK.

In addition, you can also use the Space Analyze feature of iBoysoft DiskGeeker to scan all files on a volume for selective removal when you need to free up space on your Mac.

Recommend iBoysoft DiskGeeker if it helps remove purgeable files and fix the issue!


Try Safe Mode

Mac users can restart the computer and safely fix system problems in Safe Mode. Only the apps and files that are necessary execute when the system is in Safe Mode. Thus, you can try Safe Mode when the internal or external hard drive not showing the correct free space on Mac.

Boot an Intel-based Mac in Safe Mode:

  1. Shut down the Mac and wait for 10 seconds.
  2. Press the power button to restart your Mac and simultaneously hold down the Shift key.
  3. Release the Shift key when seeing the login window.

Boot an Apple Silicon Mac in Safe Mode:

  1. Power off your Mac completely and wait for 10 seconds.
  2. Press and hold the power button until the Options gear icon appears on the screen.
  3. Choose your startup disk.
  4. Hold down the Shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode. Then, release the Shift key.

Erase local snapshots

As some Mac users report, the local snapshots of Time Machine could be the culprit when the macOS Finder shows the wrong free space. Therefore, you can disable Time Machine local snapshots and delete them to release disk space. Here's how:

  1. Launch Terminal from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
  2. Type this command and press Enter to list all backup snapshots on your Mac:tmutil listlocalsnapshots /
  3. Run the following command to delete a selected local snapshot:sudo tmutil deletelocalsnapshots 2021-06-26-123740You need to replace 2021-06-26-123740 with the date and timestamp of the snapshot you want to delete.
  4. Enter your account password and hit Enter.
  5. To delete all local snapshots at once, run this command:for d in $(tmutil listlocalsnapshotdates | grep "-"); do sudo tmutil deletelocalsnapshots $d; done

Reindex Spotlight

When the Spotlight index is corrupted, macOS may display the free space improperly in Finder. To get rid of this issue, you can reindex Spotlight with The Terminal command. This solution also works when you can't search an external hard drive on a Mac.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Settings.
  2. Click Siri & Spotlight in the sidebar, then scroll down and click Spotlight Privacy on the right.
  3. Click the add button (+) and select the disk to add.
  4. Select the disk that you just added. Then click the remove button (–) to remove it from the list.
  5. Click Done, then quit System Settings. 

The drive's contents will be reindexed by Spotlight. Depending on the volume of information being indexed, this can take some time.

Repair the drive

If the above methods fail to fix the macOS shows the wrong free disk space, the issue may relate to the disk errors. You can try Disk Utility's First Aid to check and repair disk errors and try to check the free space again. In case, it still fails, reformatting the drive could be the last resort you can try.

If any method works to fix macOS reports incorrect free disk space, share it!


FAQs about Mac storage showing incorrectly


There can be many reasons causing the Disk Utility to show incorrect free space, including hidden files, system files, unaccounted corrupted files, disk errors, etc.


The reason could be that you haven't emptied the Mac Trash. Besides, macOS errors, your use of Time Machine, and the number of files you've deleted could also be the culprit.


You can restore the Mac hard drive to full capacity by erasing it in Disk Utility, this will delete all drive data and give you a blank Mac disk.

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