Using Disk Inventory X to free HD space

By | November 18, 2015

As flash-based storage continues to become more prevalent, you (or one of your friends!) may find themselves in need of some help cleaning up unused files on their hard drive.

While the first place you may think to look is in the Downloads folder, you may be surprised to find that doesn’t quite do the job.

Before you start making those tough decisions on which college essays you need to delete, you may be able to clear up significant space off of your computer by deleting files you didn’t even know you had!

Enter Disk Inventory X.

Disk Inventory X Icon

This tiny application will run a scan of your file system and then give you a visual representation of what is using up space on your disk(s).

After you download the disk image from the link above, click to open the disk image. You can choose to run Disk Inventory X from the DMG or you can drag it to your /Applications folder for easy access later.

When first opening, it will present you with a list of any available disks to scan.


Select the disk or folder you want to scan and then click Open Volume.

Depending on the size (and speed) of your disk, it may take a few minutes to open.

Once done, it will show you a screen with two or three window views:

Disk Inventory X Window


  • File Hierarchy – (Shown outlined in orange above) This section shows how the files and folders are logically arranged on your disk.
  • File Tree  (Shown in the center above) This is the visual representation of your files. The larger the file, in proportion to your other files, the larger the colored block will be. Notice similar files are color coded and grouped together by file-type AND folder.
    • Note: You may have a folder full on tiny files taking up large space. When looking through the image don’t forget to look for these large groupings of small files!
  • Statistics – (Shown outlined in red above) This section may be hidden by clicking the Show/Hide File Kind Statistics.

As you can see in the image above, if I click on a file in the center file tree, it will highlight it on the left file hierarchy window to give me more information. In this case, I have an 8.8GB “Untitled” iMovie project.

If I right-click or ctrl+click on the file, a drop down window gives me a few more options:

Disk Inventory X Right-Click

I can use Reveal in Finder to open Finder at my file to look around. I can also choose Open to open the file directly to see if it is something I want to save.

If I decide I don’t need this file, I can click on Move to Trash to move the file to my trash. Once complete with cleanup, I will need to remember to empty my trash to actually free up the space.

Note: Some files may be in protected and you may want to heed that warning. Disk Inventory X also chooses to not highlight certain system files by leaving them gray in color. Unless you are certain of what you are doing, you may want to avoid those as well.

Keep an eye out for the following space-hogs!

  • Downloads Folder
    • /Users/YourUser/Downloads
  • Old iPad/iPhone IPSW files
    • /Users/YourUser/Library/iTunes
  • Software Installers and Disk Images no longer needed
  • Unused Apps

There are several other applications that offer similar functionality, but Disk Inventory X has been my go-to for years that it’s an old habit that I luckily do not have to break. All major functions appear to be working just fine on Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.

If you must try other options take a look at:

3 thoughts on “Using Disk Inventory X to free HD space

  1. ellen

    I am using a MBP from 2009 and am on the most recent iOS 10.11.3. I haven’t open disk inventory x for some time until today and all I get once it scans my disk is a black window. I tried downloading it again, same thing. I added it to my security list of apps to allow any appls outside of apple and it the last download did open but same think black, blank windows. Is this not apple to work in ElCapitan?

    1. Freddie Post author


      Unfortunately I have never seen this. I have, and do, run this application on on 10.11 and haven’t experienced the problem you described.

      Let me know if you find a solution!

      1. Stefano

        Hi, I experience the same problem since I upgraded to OS X 10.11.5.
        The graphical view is a black display. The same if I open any of the functions under the main menu (About Disk Inventory or Preferences).
        I run a MacBook Air (11-inch, Late 2010).
        Any idea how to solve this?


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