Reclaim some drive space from iTunes

If you’re in need of every byte of drive space you can find—perhaps you’re using a first-generation MacBook Air with a 64GB solid state drive, or maybe you’re just a pack rat—here’s a little tip that might save you anywhere from a few megabytes to a couple of gigabytes, at least if you’re an iPhone and/or iPod user.

iTunes, as you’re probably aware, automatically downloads and installs software updates for connected iPods and iPhones. What you may not be aware of is that iTunes keeps a copy of each update on your Mac’s hard drive. Over time, you can build up quite the collection of updates—on my main Mac, there are seven different iPod updates, and 13 iPhone updates.

Now, the odds that you’ll need any one of these updates is basically near zero—especially an older update that’s been updated a couple of additional times already. But you can go further, and even remove the newest update, assuming you’re willing to let iTunes download it again in the future. (If you need the latest version to do a restore, for instance, iTunes will download the update if it isn’t found locally.)

So where do you go to find these files? Navigate to your user’s Library -> iTunes folder. In there, you’ll see (depending on which devices you use) folders named iPhone Software Upates and iPod Software Updates. On my Mac Pro, the iPod updates consume about 40MB of drive space, while the iPhone versions take up more than 2GB of space.

If you need to free some drive space in a hurry, these two folders are a good place to look. Deleting the files you find here may cause you to wait for a download if you need to restore your device, but that’s (hopefully) something you don’t have to do on a regular basis.

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