For obvious reasons I was eager to install Big Sur on my Mac, so you can imagine my frustration after having deleted enough data on my Mac to make room for the 12.2GB Big Sur download, experienced all the issues with the download on the day it launched, I then found that My Mac was demanding that it needed another 10GB space - a total of 35GB free for it to complete the installation.
We've covered some of the other problems we had while trying to install Big Sur in another article.
I am hardly alone in having a Mac with just a 128GB SSD, until earlier this year the majority of Apple's Macs were being sold with no more than a 128GB SSD. I think we can safely assume that most Macs out there are similarly limited.
I've been frustrated by the lack of space on my Mac for some time and had been considering buying a new one, but it is disappointing to feel forced into an upgrade by Apple.
Most annoying of all, when it comes to compatibility Apple nowhere states that Big Sur will need 35GB of free space to install.
Apple does make it easy to remove some of the things that are taking up space on your Mac. You can go to Apple menu > About This Mac and look at Storage. Here you will see something like I did: GB of space attributed to Apps, Messages, Mail, … if you click on Manage you can choose from various options to take space back on your Mac: e.g. store in iCloud, Optimise Storage and so on. The Reduce Clutter option allows you do easily delete some of the things taking up the most storage. Read more about how to free space on a Mac.
One option that might be of interest here are the ability to delete the images from Messages. If you have set up Messages so that all your texts appear on your Mac as well as your other device, all the images that are sent to you will be stored on your Mac. It's easy to delete these potentially freeing up some GB of storage.
The problem is that when you have done all this you are still confronted with the mysterious Other and Other Volumes in Container. The latter two are the ones taking up the most space on our Mac - and frustratingly Apple doesn't make it easy for you to delete from these. There's a reason why Apple doesn't make it easy to delete things that fall under these sections - doing so could stop things working on your Mac.
For peace of mind you could try a solution like Clean My Mac which will offer to delete things for you safely. There's a free trial that will at least scan your system to tell you how much space you can save and what can be deleted, but you'll need to pay for the full version if you want it to delete it all for you. If you don't want to pay for that then we do have a guide to deleting from Other on the Mac. Clean My Mac suggested we could save 6GB if it deleted Caches. We need 10GB so frankly we'd still be faced with deleting things we wanted to keep in order to make space.
Another option would be to do a clean install - basically wipe our Mac completely in order to install Big Sur. Of course if we did that we'd have to download Big Sur again or create a bootable installer first.
Frankly all these options are fine if you are familiar with Macs and have time on your hands. But the majority of people limited by a 128GB storage will not be comfortable doing this.
Apple has let everyone with just 128GB storage down with Big Sur. The clue was in the name: Big. Big Sur-prise it's too big for most of us.
We're also hearing that Big Sur is bricking some 2013-2014 MacBook Pro models.