Reclaiming Space in Mac OS X by Trimming Unused Languages from Apps

A cool thing about being new to the Mac — I’ve had my MacBook for only a few months — is that I still have the joy of finding out new things about how the operating system works, what the default programs can do (I didn’t know Spotlight had a built in calculator, for example), and so on.

Today I learned a great way to free up some disk space by cutting out unused languages from installed programs. If you’re willing to pay, you can do this automatically with Xslimmer, which I hope to someday have a license to… but for the time being, here’s a quick and easy way to free up lots of space; I’ve seen programs drop from around fifteen megabytes to three!

Applications List with DVD Player Highlighted

That image is a snapshot of my Applications folder, with the DVD Player program highlighted. Pressing ⌘+i will bring up an window full of info for whichever program was highlighted Most programs will have a “Languages” pane in that window, and that’s where we’ll be focusing.

DVD Info Window Now, unless you’re an über-polyglot, you’re not likely to need the myriad of languages present in this file — that’s right, every language listed in that Languages pane is stored as part of that application file.

I speak pretty much only English; do I really need a DVD Player that can speak to me in Finnish or Italian? I think not. How much of that 42.8 megabyte program seen in the first image above is “language bloat” that I simply don’t need?

So what I do is highlight all of the languages in the list which I want to dump, making sure that I keep English!

Once the to-be-dumped languages are highlighted, it’s a simple matter of pressing the “-” button underneath the list and accepting the “Are you sure?” message which pops up upon clicking “-.”

Success! And look at that space savings:

Application List with DVD Player Highlighted, Post-trimming

The DVD Player program dropped from 42.8 megabytes down to just 9.4 megabytes! Hard to believe, but 33.4 megabytes were being wasted by languages which I would never use.

Not every program can be trimmed in this way, but I’m going down my applications list, and the savings are adding up quickly.

If you’re pressed for space on your Mac, this is a great way to reclaim some of it. It’s feasible that your programs will actually work a little faster, too, as there are fewer files for them to process within the .app files.

Note that this only works with Mac OS X Leopard, not previous versions. Thanks, kristarella for pointing this out.

8 thoughts on “Reclaiming Space in Mac OS X by Trimming Unused Languages from Apps”

  1. I’m definitely pressed for space on my MacBook. It’s not desperate at the moment because most of my stuff is still over on another computer, but I will definitely do this. Might need a bit of extra space to deal with photos while I’m away.

  2. kristarella: Photos are definitely a resource hog. Do you use iPhoto for your photo management?

    I have a couple years’ worth of random photography on my computer — maybe about 1% of it is of any value; I just need to set aside a ton of time to sift through it all to clear out all of the out-of-focus, silly, random, nonsense photographs I have…

  3. Photos are the biggest! Except for video, but I don’t do much video. Actually for the last few years I’ve been storing my photos in folders on my Linux desktop computer and editing them one by one. I realised recently that was very inefficient! I did a reasonable cull at the start of the year.

    I did use iPhoto during my trip to San Francisco and it was extremely handy for sorting photos and making an album to slideshow for the family.

    Now I’m using Aperture, but until I get a bigger computer (current MacBook is 2 years old, 60GB HD) I think I will be sorting my photos in Aperture, editing, tagging, photoblogging, Flickr, Facebooking etc, then export the projects out again and store on the desktop. Aperture makes the above things much quicker than before. I’m sure one could set up iPhoto in a similar way to be efficient too.

  4. You should download the trial of Aperture, it’s pretty great. If your wife ever goes Mac I think she’d like it. Lightroom is pretty awesome too, but they’re quite different programs, so a lot of personal preference is involved when choosing between them.

    I know! My old computer was 40GB and I’m sure I’ve had much smaller ones. However, this one was pretty much completely full when I decided to reinstall it and right now I have 8GB free and all I have on here is operating system, some programs, website files, uni documents and photos. I only have 3 or 4 podcasts and no music on here! Crazy.

    With 6 days of camp it won’t be hard to take at least 4BG of photos!

  5. kristarella: I checked out Aperture’s site; definitely looks like I’d enjoy it. Alicia would probably stick with Lightroom as that’s what she knows and loves, and she has great results with it.

    Either way, both are quite expensive and so I’ll be waiting a while for either. No biggie. Will be grabbing the Aperture trial run sometime next week when I have more time to think — this weekend is going to be crazy hectic between seeing a movie with my step-bro, working tomorrow, having a Christmas party tomorrow, client work, and so on.

  6. Yeah, I know what you mean about expensive. After I saw how much Aperture sped up my workflow I just had to have it. I took >200 photos at a friend’s wedding and it was just sooo quick to go through them. If Alicia likes Lightroom, awesome, she should stick with it. LR2 almost eliminates the need for photoshop at all (Aperture does great overall photo treatment, with light retouching, but no masks or anything).

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