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Free up disk space on Mac

  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Business Edition
  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Home Edition
  • Parallels Desktop for Mac Pro Edition


  • I am running out of a disk space on my Mac, and I want to make sure that my virtual machine doesn't occupy it all.
  • My Mac performance is affected due to low disk space.
  • My virtual machine takes a lot of disk space on my Mac, and I want to make shrink it.


  1. Identifying what takes disk space on a Mac
  2. Identifying the contents of Windows virtual machine
  3. Reducing the virtual machine's size

Identifying what takes disk space on a Mac

Use macOS Storage Management menu to check what files take plenty of space on your Mac disk. Click on Apple () menu > Storage. Parallels virtual machines will be listed separately:

Look through the files in Documents section (it includes Downloads folder as well) and delete large files that you no longer need, make sure to empty the Trash.

If you want to reduce size of your virtual machine(s), click on Parallels VMs > Free Up Disk Space.

Note: see this article to learn more how to clear cache from Mac.

Identifying the contents of a virtual machine

The space taken by virtual machine on Mac disk mostly belongs to operating system, programs and files in Windows. To manage Windows storage go to Windows Settings > System > Storage. Enable Storage Sense to allow Windows automatically free up disk space. To free up space manually click 'Free up space now':

Wait for scan to complete, scroll down to review files that take plenty of space. For example, previous Windows installation takes up to 27.5GB of disk space in my case.

Click 'Remove files' when ready:

Note: You may also use a 3rd-party tools that help identifying large files that you no longer need, like Scanner.

Reducing virtual machine size

To open Free Up Disk Space menu via Parallels Desktop go to File > Free Up Disk Space:


In the opened window select a virtual machine and click Reclaim button to free up disk space from your virtual machine back to Mac:


If your virtual machine has snapshots open Snapshot Manager and remove the once you no longer need. In most of situations this will also reduce virtual machine size.

Note: If you have many branches of snapshots, deleting one of the parent snapshots may cause the virtual disk size increase.


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