How to reclaim MacBook storage from Photos app

So, you too, huh? Trust me, I know how frustrating it is when you know for a fact you’ve already deleted thousands of photos in the Photos app. And yet, the free storage space still says otherwise.

Here’s the thing: I have the basic MacBook Pro 2018 version which comes with only 256GB of storage.

As you can see in the screenshot below, my photos occupied 78.63GB! That’s 14,000+ pictures and a few hundred videos!

the photos app in macbook pro shows 78.63GB is used up

I’ve backed up all my photos and videos to Google Photos. All my pics and videos on both my Samsung S9 and iPhone XS are uploaded automatically to Google Photos.

So, keeping the same files on my MacBook was redundant which is why I finally said, “Okay, let’s clean this baby.”

First off, I deleted 90% of my photos manually. I’ve still got around 700+ pics that haven’t been uploaded to the cloud yet. Those remain on my Photos app (I’ll delete it later though because moving forward I only want to use Google Photos).

However, when I checked my storage, it remained unchanged. So, I googled for another solution, and found out there’s a Recently Deleted folder in Photos (check the sidebar).

It acts like a temporary trash bin just in case you change your mind and want to restore the deleted photos later. But I know what I want, so I clicked on the Delete All button.

recently deleted folder in Macbook

But lo and behold, when I checked my MacBook’s storage, it still said the same thing. So, at this point, I was fuming. It’s not fun manually deleting photos and cross-checking if it’s been uploaded to Google Photos. Took me about 2-3 hours to ‘clean up’ my Photos app.

Well, anyway, I tinkered around on Finder until I finally found the solution. So, here’s what you need to do:

Go to Finder Preferences, then click on Sidebar button. Then tick the option for Pictures to have it show up on the Finder sidebar.

Macbook pro's Finder preferences screenshot

Go back to Finder. Click on Pictures then right-click on Photos Library. Click on ‘Show Package Contents.’

how to show Photos app package contents

You’ll see something like this on your screen:

hidden folders in the photos app package contents

Click on the Masters folder. This is where your image and video files are stored. Fortunately, it was easy for me to identify which folders contained the files I’ve already ‘removed’ in Photos. So, I deleted those, and all that remained are the pics and videos I’ve yet to upload to Google Photos.

When I deleted the unnecessary files in my Masters folder, my storage size finally went down like it should have in the first place! From 78.63GB, I finally got it down to 1.8GB! Woohoo!

so happy to finally delete over 70GB of videos and pictures. only 1.8GB left in Photos app

Reclaiming your MacBook storage space from Photos app shouldn’t be such a headache. But, oh well, at least I was able to finally put this inconvenient experience behind me.

If you experience the same problem, try out this solution!

Let me know what you think!

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