What to Do if Your Hard Drive Is Filling Up Rapidly and You Use Apple Music

If you use Apple Music on your computer, you’ll find that the more you listen to music, the more your hard drive’s free space dwindles. Even if you don’t save music for offline listening, iTunes stores what you listen to in a cache. There’s a good reason for this: when you listen to something again, you don’t have to re-download it.

However, if you listen to a lot of different music, and don’t have a lot of disk space, then you may find that your free space is shrinking. It’s easy to clear this cache, but you can’t do it from within iTunes.

First quit iTunes. Then find it’s cache folder. On OS X, it’s ~/Library/Caches/com.apple.itunes, where ~ is a shortcut for your home folder. (If your user name is Alice, then the path would be /Users/alice/Library/Caches/com.apple.itunes.)

On Windows, Windows, it’s (replace USERNAME with you user name): C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes\

When you’re there, you’1ll see the size of your cache. In this screenshot, you can see that mine is nearly 900 MB.


Select all these files and delete them, or delete the folder containing them. When you launch iTunes, it will recreate the necessary files; ones that tell iTunes which files are cached. As you play music, it will get stored here later. If you notice that your hard drive space is shrinking, come back and delete it again.

iTunes really should have two options related to this cache. The first should allow you to choose how large the maximum size of the cache is. And the second should be a button allowing you to delete the cache. For now, you don’t have those options, so you must do it manually.

And here’s how to clear the cache on iOS.

4 thoughts on “What to Do if Your Hard Drive Is Filling Up Rapidly and You Use Apple Music

  1. Great tip Kirk. This is even more problematic on iOS though: I made the mistake of getting the 16gb version of the iPad Air (never again) and the only way to get space back is to turn off iCloud Music Library and wait awhile (it doesn’t clear itself right away). But: doing this deletes any downloaded songs or playlists as well so it’s back to the drawing board when you bring it back online.

    The offline music part is more of a problem on my 64gb iPhone that I also use as an iPod (good ole days!)… Plenty of space there but that cache doesn’t seem to have any ceiling whatsoever and will just eat up whatever space is available as far as I know. They need to address that problem ASAP and those settings you mentioned would do the trick on any platform IMHO.

  2. One more thing: on iOS it’s super hard to track down. That cache is part of the mysterious OTHER category when looking at Usage. I was going nuts trying to figure out why my drive was full, until I switched iCloud Music Library off and reclaimed 3-4 gb. I love Apple Music but this is VERY annoying.

    • I’m not seeing it as Other, at least not on the only iOS device I have using Apple Music, which is running the iOS 9 beta. I’m seeing a large difference between the space available on my iPod touch, and in iTunes. Other, for the device, is quite small – 700 MB – but there’s a discrepancy of more than 3 GB in the available space. It seems that, with iOS 9 at least, the caches are not considered to be used in iTunes, which suggests that iOS 9 is handling them differently than the usual Other storage.

      • Hmm… Interesting that iOS 9 is doing this differently. Looking forward to it. That Other category is just such a pain. When dealing with tight storage space it’s like troubleshooting in the dark, Thanks for the info.

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