macOS Sierra Optimize Storage

As I browse through my macOS Sierra beta I keep finding little additions and changes that I think you should know about. One of the things Apple has added to Sierra is “Optimize Storage”. Let’s take a look at this new feature.


Optimize Storage

Every Mac OS since Cain and Abel has had the About This Mac feature. It has not changed too much from macOS Yosemite through Sierra. Open it and you can find out stuff about how much memory your Mac contains and other details. However, Apple has added an Optimize Storage feature to About This Mac in Sierra. To access this “feature” open About This Mac (upper left corner under the apple) and select the “Storage” tab:


This is pretty much the same window you get in El Capitan except for the “Manage” button, upper-right corner of the window. Click on the “Manage” button, and you are presented with this:

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What is Apple doing here? It appears Apple is kind of pushing people to move a lot of their stored stuff (photos, movies, documents, etc.) to iCloud. The above screenshot shows I have chosen to optimize my photos and documents by storing them in iCloud. I have allowed Sierra to set it up that way, but I will not be doing that on my iMac when I install Sierra. I prefer to have my photos on my machine, not sure of the Documents thing yet.

If you choose to optimize iTunes you are presented with this drop down menu:

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It tells you what it is going to optimize. When you click “Optimize” it does it’s thing. If you do not wish to remove some of these items, then don’t. It is not a bad idea to get old stuff (optimize) off our Macs from time to time, whether it is done manually or through an Apple process, whatever.

Move down to the bottom of this window and click on the “Review Files” button:

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“Optimize Storage” presents this window:

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I don’t have any “Large Files” in my Sierra Beta, but if I did they would be listed. The “Downloads” folder files are listed. This is pretty handy. If I wanted to delete the Flash install (a really good idea) all I have to do is select it and click on that little “x.” You will get a “Remove” warning:

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Of course, you can do this manually, but it is nice to have all this optimize stuff in one place. If you click on “File Browser” you can navigate through your files:

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So, these optimize features do some stuff for you, but it also allows you to do some of it manually. Overall, it is pretty well done.

Why All This Optimization?

Why is Apple implementing all this optimization stuff in macOS Sierra? Optimizing storage on your Mac is a good idea. It does not hurt to free up space on your hard drive or SSD. However, here is what I think is happening. Apple has completely gone to SSD storage in their Macs. Most new Macs have a modest amount of Flash storage. Yes, you can buy more storage, up to 1 TB Flash storage. It is expensive! So, people buy Macs with 256 – 512 MB of Flash storage. For some of us, that is not enough space! Apple is saying we can make these machines work if we use iCloud storage. Of course, we can use external storage as well.

Apple is trying to get people to use the cloud for all kinds of stuff. It seems the future of the macOS and iOS is iCloud. Well, iCloud is not a bad thing. I use it for lots of stuff, but if I want to keep my photos on my Mac or on an external SSD, I will do so.


Generally, I think these optimize features are good. We can use as much or as little of them as we are comfortable. However, I am a firm believer in not letting Apple force me into storing all my stuff in iCloud, just ain’t going there.