This is the first of a series of articles on reducing disk space usage on your Mac.

With recent iOS devices like the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, the built-in camera has improved so much that the videos taken are gigantic, consuming roughly 3MB/sec. This means a 10 minute footage takes up 1.8GB! Take a couple of videos on a trip and you’ll quickly run out of disk space on your phone and (after you transfer it to your Mac) your Mac. With more and more users switching to SSDs – seriously, you should switch from hard disk drives to SSD if you haven’t, they are insanely fast compared to hard disk drives – which are generally more expensive and have lower capacities than hard disk drives, disk space is at a premium. A Macbook Air or Macbook Pro with an SSD will likely only have 128GB–256GB of disk space.

Other than flat out trimming and deleting these videos, the easiest way to cut down on disk space consumed by videos is to process and convert them using an app like Handbrake 1

Handbrake homepage

Handbrake is free software. I’m keeping some videos just in case I want to check them out again. Maybe it’s a certain moment I captured of a loved one unwrapping a present. Usually I don’t need to keep them at the original resolution and quality. That’s where Handbrake comes in handy. The app is easy to use, pick the source video, choose a preset configuration from the list and hit the start button. Once it’s done, you can verify the video processed is correct and then delete the original. For the more important videos, I’ll choose the preset for the latest Apple TV and for other videos that I want to keep around, iPhone & iPod touch. The former reduces disk space usage for my videos by 30% and the latter by 80%! i.e., a 10 minute recording taking up 1.8GB gets reduced to 1.2GB and 270MB respectively.

You can drag the converted videos into iTunes so they can be synced to your iOS devices.

A few additional technical details

Before you hit the Start button to begin conversion, double check that the line at the bottom which shows you if the video is cropped. You typically don’t want any cropping. This is especially important if your video is not taken with an iOS device with the same aspect ratio.

You want to make sure you encode the videos using the video codec H.264 so that iTunes and iOS devices can play them.

If you found this post useful, you might also like the second post in this article series on reducing disk space usage on your Mac: Reducing Disk Usage on Your Mac with OmniDiskSweeper, and if you want to try my take on a hard disk space cleaning app, check out SimplyDiskSweeper.

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  1. The first time you run Handbrake on Maverick after downloading it, you might get an error pop up which says that the app can’t be open because it is from an unidentified developer. Since you know where the app came from, you can go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General, unlock and click to allow apps downloaded from anywhere. You can then run Handbrake. After you run Handbrake the first time, remember to go back to change the setting back to “Mac App Store and identifier developers”.