UPDATE: For how to free up Mac Space and Clear Adobe Cache on newer Macs click here >> Newer Macs
Older Macs (Late 2014 High Sierra iMac)
Just recently I discovered an incredible thing. I usually have around 800 Gigabytes available on my Mac hard drive, but after using After Effects and Premiere Pro for a big editing project, my space had dwindled down to around 500GB! I didn’t know exactly what it was until I took a look at my Library files. Half a day later, I located the culprit and freed up several Gigs worth of space. Let’s run down what I did.
First you have to see what is taking up all the space.
Select the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your computer screen > About This Mac > Storage
As you can see I have 2 drives and my main drive is actually fine now because I deleted several hundred gigs worth of Adobe cache files.
From here you can see the different areas of the computer taking up space.
You can do a lot to free up space just by going through documents and backing up files so you can delete them on the main drive.
You can also select Recommendations at the top left to make adjustments that may help free up space.
I don’t use iCloud storage because I’m kind of old school with external hard drives, but you can back up files that way, as well as opt to automatically remove video files from iTunes and delete Trash.
Now, on to Adobe cache files…
If you use Premiere Pro and other Adobe Suite applications you will want to check these cache files regularly. I have been editing with Final Cut Pro for a number of years, so I was surprised to find Premiere Pro files from several years ago.
To get to these files select Documents > File Browser
This is also where you’ll find excess files. Now, how to get rid of those pesky cache files.
In top toolbar of computer screen select Go > Library (hold down Option key to reveal Library if you don’t see it)
From here you dive into a few different folders to locate the proper files.
Application Support > Adobe > Common
From here you can delete the Media Cache folder entirely.
Library > Caches > Adobe
From here you can select folders and right + click and select Get Info to see the file sizes within each folder. My largest files were within the After Effects folder after a hefty color keying music video (link here).
I’ve still got several gigs of cache files I can delete. To delete them I’m going to open After Effects > open a numbered folder > Disk Cache
You can delete all of these folders.
If you are ever worried about deleting files, you can always back them up, delete, and start your program to make sure deletion doesn’t adversely affect your program.
Final step: Empty Trash
Want to see what’s taking up all the storage on your newer Mac?
Select the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your computer screen > System Preferences > General > Storage
From here you can see a graph and list of areas where information is stored. If you want a closer look at any location, select the “i” inside a circle (information icon) to the right of the section.
This view will show you Large Files, Downloads, Unsupported Apps (very useful when you want to clear out apps that no longer work with your Mac), and File Browser. This is a great way to inspect what apps and files are taking up the most space.
Adobe has since created an easier solution for clearing cache. Let’s start with Premiere Pro.
Clear Premiere Pro Cache (2020 and newer)
Launch Premiere Pro – just the app, not a project – select Premiere Pro > Preferences – OR – Settings > Media Cache (in the toolbar).
Then select “Delete all media cache files.” For PP 2023 this will shut down Premiere so that you have to restart the app.
Clear After Effects Cache (newer versions)
Launch After Effects- just the app, not a project – select After Effects > Settings – OR – Preferences > Media & Disk Cache (in the toolbar).
Then select “Empty Disk Cache.” A popup will ask you if you really want to delete all however many gigs of media cache exists and you select “Yes.”