Big Sur experiences

Installed Big Sur on my 2018 Mini and, as far as the TextBlade is concerned, I haven’t seen any issues. And my normal use so far in apps seems fine.

But I have found one very concerning issue. When I look at “About My Mac” in the “storage” section, I was down to just 39 GB on my 500 GB SSD! About 167 GB were listed under “Other”.

I have not been able to find a solution to this. I deleted some fairly large video projects (1 GB or more each) and a fet other things. Hardly made any change at all. I eventually Shutdown (I had “restarted” before with no obvious difference) and then booted again. Seems that some of the things I deleted finally made an impact, but a small one. I’m up to 48 GB of free space, but “Other” is actually a bit bigger (170 GB)!

When I compare it to the backup of the drive, I’ve lost about 144 GB!

So, using the Finder, I compared the 4 main folders of my internal drive and the backup with these results (First number is the internal drive and second is the backup). The question mark for the first one is because it is still “calculating” the size. No idea why it is taking so long considering it can’t be nearly as big as at least one other:

Applications: ??? - 10.67 GB
Library: 6.04 - 8.62 GB
System: 27.17 - 11.2 GB
Users: 321.4 - 196.36 GB

I don’t know if some of the differences are because of what SuperDuper may not copy, but that wouldn’t explain why, in at least one case, the backup folder takes more space.

But, of course, the big issue is the Users folder where the internal drive is using far more memory.

Doing some research about “Other”, about all I found was stuff about deleting things, especially cache files. It said to delete the entire cache folder for each app that was big. But since it didn’t specifically say anything about whether it could cause a problem, I haven’t done that.

But I have checked the size of each of those folders. Most are measured in KB. Or in MB, but not a lot.

Only 4 were around a GB or so. Even if I got rid of all those, it wouldn’t come close to solving the problem since it only represents 4-5 gb at most.

So, any ideas?

Many people have been struggling with that can of worms. It’s really quite a complex system. You’d better off using your time to get more storage and go with it.

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I have other storage, for my itunes stuff. Not going to spend money to add more storage internally. Heck, I’ve checked repeatedly today and “Other” is slowing going up while free storage is going down a few GB each. At that rate, I could double my internal storage and it would still get eaten up!

I have considered just starting from scratch, but I’m hoping there is an easier solution! I also wonder if there is something that Big Sur is doing behind the scenes that temporarily eats up memory. If so, it sure is taking a long time to sort things out!

I did run into another problem.

Apple Mail has screwed up the trash. Before, using Mojave and prior versions, I’d have the three main email accounts.

After “All Inboxes”, there wousd be “Sent”, Drafts, Flagged and TRASH (I think that is correct).

But now “Trash” isn’t in that section! I go down a little further, after “Smart Mailboxes” (is that new?) to where it says “Oh My Mac”. The first thing there is now “Trash”. I figured it was the same thing, but when I looked at it, it wasn’t getting the stuff I deleted. So I went to “accounts” and set each one to put the Trash in the “On My Mac” section. Well, that didn’t work because every time I saved something from one of the thrree accounts, it created another Trash folder! So now I have 4 of them. I just want everything to go into the same trash like it used to but I can’t find anything for that either.

Well, no progress on storage, but have made some on the mail issue.

Turns out if you hover over the “favorites” heading, a “+” sign will show up were you can add mailboxes - one is “All Trash”. Another is “All Junk”.

Sure enough, the all trash works. Sort of. But for some reason it also lists each account trash icon under the “On My Mac” heading. So I have the “all trash” (which can be expanded to show the individual ones, but I don’t do that). And then the same three in the other section, but you can’t close them down to just be one (I don’t want it at all!).

I tried going to account info and changing from “All Trash” to “none”, but that just means they disappear everywhere. Still, it’s progress. Just not on the most important thing.

One other thing I’ve noticed. I have three “desktops” with certain apps only on specific desktops and a couple that show on all of them.

Every time I reboot, the apps are on the right desktop, but the windowns are out of position and/or a different size. Usually my computer just sleeps when not in use, but this is still not good.

There are some complaints about problems with Mail in Big Sur. Take a look at There were and still are Mail problems in Catalina.
When a new MacOS starts up it spends a lot of time and resources building the Spotlight indices. Depending on what you’re asking Spotlight to include, especially if you’re defaulting to include mounted external disks, it may take up to perhaps a day. You can control what Spotlight includes in System Preferences>Spotlight. You might try including only 1 or two things and exclude your attached drives under the Privacy tab, just to see what happens.

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Several people have discovered the hidden + sign and what it reveals as problems in different forums. You’re not alone. Personally I’ve decided not to move to Big Sur yet. Although temptation looms large.

I’ve seen the problems of different desktops reported on other forums too. Apple’s QA seems to have slipped in recent years. It wasn’t until about 10.15.~4 that Catalina reached what I would have thought was reasonable for initial release. And even then, quite a few significant and reported problems go unfixed for several years.

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My suggestion is to get GrandPerspective. Gives quite a good view of your disk space usage.

I seem to remember that there was a bug (phone bug) with space disappearing quickly, I think during this last round of betas since June or July… wonder if it somehow made it to the desktop?

I haven’t seen that specific issue on my device, but I didn’t do an upgrade, so that’s a big difference.

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About 30 minutes ago I went to spotlight and excluded Time Capsule and several external drives that are just backups of other drives. Kept the one which holds my itunes stuff since that isn’t on my internal drive.

Don’t know what it will do. I mean, if space is taken up because of recording all those drives before, I assume that space is still taken up. It just isn’t something that spotlight search will include results for.

I’d also be surprised if a spotlight index file would take so much memory, but I guess it is possible.

Is there any way to clear a spotlight index file and have it start over?

It’s worth reading the info linked from the “About Search and Privacy …” and “?” buttons in System Preferences>Spotlight>Privacy. It includes info I didn’t realize about gathering info from Time Machine backups and mentions a bunch of other info I didn’t realize. I think that must be new in Catalina.
It used to be that if you added the system drive into “Prevent Spotlight from searching these locations” it would erase the Spotlight index and it would re-index when you removed that disk from the list. That was the simple case. It works similarly for other attached drives. It doesn’t say that there anymore but I suspect it still works. I also suspect that unselecting each of the items in the Search Results pane for Spotlight will do the same thing. Also you should be able to selectively remove categories in the index by unselecting particular categories. Perhaps unselecting all categories as well as the “Allow Spotlight Suggestions” might start the index from scratch. Given it’s new complexity, with things like Time Machine backups being indexed regardless, I’d do a search on starting the Spotlight index from scratch.

Have to wait and see if the trend continues, but I just got back after about 2 hours away and my free storage has gone up to 58 GB. Still way too low, but maybe it is gradually opening up? I’ll be checking throughout the day to find out.

Just jecked it again (about 4 hours later). It is up to 85 GB free. That’s about 27 more than last time

Wondering about some other possibility. I use an ssd divided into partitions to back up all my computers and usually I only use this particular backup occasionally and unplug it the rest of the time. But after the Big Sur update, I happened to leave it plugged in all night.

This morning I connected it again, in case this was necessary to clear out anything after I marked it out of the spotlight search. It’s still plugged in, just in case that is necessary. Eventually I’ll unplug it, but probably not until the improvement seems to stop.

Got it, though I don’t see how it helps my problem with “Other”. I looked for the biggest block but nothing about it seemed to be out of line - and it was a fraction of all the storage I’m missing.

I found something about this online. I notice the storage free hasn’t changed in a while, so just now I removed put my external data drive into the list of drives not to include and then removed it from the list.

Check the memory info and I had instantly gained another 23 GB. Of course, there is still the question of whether reindexing it will take it back.

That also still leaves my main drive, but I don’t want to go through that process with it yet until I have time to see what happens over time with this last step. So I’ll wait awhile and then do the same thing with the internal drive. Presently am up to 108 GB - certainly better than the 38 when I first saw the problem!

Well, nothing was changing so I tried the trick with the internal drive. After getting a popup that said if I excluded it, it wouldn’t be able to search but I continued anyway, I got another popup that said “Privacy List Error” and it wouldn’t let me add it to the list.

Been searching all over but can’t find a solution. Frustrating since this could be the root problem.

Also, you may recall in an earlier post that when I did a “get info” on “applications” folder of my internal drive, it would never calculate the amount of memory - just kept calculating. Yet the same folder on my backup did give a number. So maybe something related screwed up.

UPDATE: Shutdown and restarted computer. Was able to do the spotlight thing without getting the error, but it had no effect on the amount of free space. At least not yet but the change with the data drive seemed to change right away.

Oh well, just wait awhile in case something happens. But I’m out of ideas unless I resort to starting from scratch.

Up to 140 GB free. Getting closer. Pretty sure originalsy it was over 180.

The bricking of old MBPs and MacPros is pretty awful.
I think I’ll wait a while before upgrading …

The question is always how common the problem is. I’ve noticed over the years that no matter what, some people will have terrible experiences. Heck, just look at reviews of iPhone apps that have almost all 5 star reviews, yet you can look at a handful of 1 star reviews and find people who say not to buy it because it crashes every time! To me, it can’t be an inherent flaw in the app is so few have a problem.

And you can’t base it on posts in Support or Reddit, etc. It really only takes a handful to make it look like a huge problem. At most you can see if a problem has more reports than the typical amount.

Heck, I’ve been searching specifically for a problem with “other” storage with Big Sur - can hardly find anything, but it sure is a problem for me. Might not be Big Sur itself. Maybe just a coincidental glitch with spotlight since reindexing seems to help, though not completely solve yet.

I think I’m going to install Big Sur on an empty external SSD partition and see what happens whise still keeping my internal as is for now.

But I’m seeing some conflicting info about one thing - how to format the partition. I’ve seen places that say to use Mac Extended (Journaled) which is what I used for some older Mac stuff. But I’ve also seen APFS. Some either say either one, but nothing says why it may be better to choose one or the other.

I do see that my Mini’s internal drive is APFS. Don’t know if it came that way, or if it changed later (before Big Sur, the latest OS I had was Mojave - never had Catalina).

I’m still seaching, but anyone able to make suggestions about this?

Well, more weirdness. I found something that said APFS was better for SSD drives, so I used that. Ran the install program from another disk and told it to install on a specific partition of the ssd that I formatted that way.

When if finally rebooted, my expectation was that it would still boot to the internal drive since I didn’t see any reason for that to change. And, sure enough, when it rebooted, all my apps came up as expected and checking the free memory was correct.

But then I went to the system prefs for “startup disk” and it had the new partition set as the boot source!

At first I thought somehow it must have booted from the new partition, but accessed my main drive info. That would seem rather unlikely though. So I changed the boot drive back the the internal drive and rebooted.

Now I have a different theory. That is that it did boot to the internal drive, but the showing of the new partition as being the boot parition was going to be for the next time. I don’t think that made a lot of sense either, but I can’t think of anything else.

Anyway, my plan is to, eventually, boot from that new partition and copy documents, apps, etc, to it as a new computer and see if that fixes the storage problem and not just that, but see if it also clears out some old crud. Much like when I first got this Mini in the first place.

Kind of a pain, but if storage doesn’t come back, I might as well. Then, if that works, wipe the internal drive and redo that one.

Thanks for the heads-up! I hadn’t heard of the bricking yet and was about to upgrade my old 13” 2013 before selling it.

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