Faithful reader Danielle writes:
HELP! All of a sudden, out of the blue tonight, I’m getting an error trying to open my mail app on my MacBook Pro. It says “Mail cannot update your mailboxes because your directory is full. You must free up space in your home folder before using mail. Delete unneeded documents or move documents to another volume.”
I had to post here because I can’t pull up an email form to mail you anywhere and I don’t know much about Macs, and how in the heck do I move documents w/in mail if I can’t open the darn thing?!?! Heeeeeeelllllpppp! I’m dying a slow death here; this computer is my work lifeblood.
Can you email me at the address I provided? I’d be eternally grateful.
From your description I’d say that your hard disk is full, and Mail.app’s message is a symptom of that bigger problem. I tried to google your specific error message but came up dry. It shouldn’t matter where we remove the files from, only that we’re freeing up some room. We’ll solve this problem by deleting items that you rarely (if ever) use. There are plenty of candidates for removal.
First and foremost, have you emptied your trash recently? Files in the trashcan still live on the disk until you empty it. The easiest way to empty the trash is to click-and-hold on the trashcan icon in the dock and choose “Empty Trash” from the menu.
If you subscribe to Podcasts or have downloaded Movies, Music Videos or TV Shows, (or if you have an exceptionally large music collection), weed out items that you can live without. You can do this from within iTunes, just pick the item and tap your keyboard’s delete key.
If you don’t make use of iDVD or iMovie, remove the numerous support files from Macintosh HD > Library > Application Support. These items consume several gigabytes of disk space.
Once you’ve done these, I recommend trying a utility called GrandPerspective, which will catalog all of the files on your disk, and then create an informative graphic. You’ll see a collection of rectangles, each one representing a file on your disk. The bigger the rectangle, the bigger the file. This is an easy way to find big files that you’ve forgotten about.
Please give these items a try and write back soon!