We can show you how to find some hidden storage that already exists on your PC, to make room for big new games like rebooting the Microsoft Flight Simulator.
How to find and delete unwanted files on your PC is a job that everyone thinks will take hours, when in fact it only takes a minute or two. Just don’t use Windows 10 File Explorer! The Windows Settings Storage menu is designed to eliminate digital file clutter. This is a DIY kit for the more sophisticated WinDirStat tool (which we recommend if you want to dive deeper).
Needs only increased: Laptops with 128GB and 256GB SSDs are still the norm, but photos and videos already have plenty of space. If you are a fan of classic games like Flight Simulator, you should know that they can take up to 150GB of storage space, only with their solitude. This is how to take back some of that space.
You can use the traditional Windows 10 File Explorer to find the large files that you want to delete, but if you do, you will spend too much time on the task.
How to use Windows 10 Storage settings
In the Windows 10 Settings menu, go to Settings> System> Storage. At the top, you will see a switch to turn off and turn off Storage Sense. We will touch on that later.
In the center of the screen, you will see a local hard disk (or disk) with an easy-to-read menu that explains how storage is shared in your PC. Notice how the subtext directs you to the task: “Remove unwanted or unwanted features & applications,” “Delete cloud-supported content that is not being used,” and so on. Each category tells you how much storage your PC has related to applications, videos, and so on.
Applications traditionally take up most of the space on a PC. You might find that the “small” game that you download takes as many gigabytes as you want. Click the Application menu, which will direct you to the page where Windows will show you the applications stored on your PC. Rearrange the list by file size to see which application uses the most space, then click the application and select Uninstall to get rid of it. Note that some genuine Windows applications, such as Photos, cannot be deleted.
Applications usually use a set of gigabytes at once, so look here first for unwanted old applications that take up space. Filter by file size to simplify tasks.
“Temporary files” and “OneDrive subtitles” are usually the parent layer of unwanted files. Clicking on a temporary subtitle file opens many files that even Windows thinks is unnecessary, from the temporary Internet file to the Recycle bin. Click the Delete file button at the top to delete everything.
The “temporary file” section usually contains a number of files that can be safely removed. There will be some who say that you must keep the Windows Update file for longer if you need to roll back the defective update, but this rarely happens.
The OneDrive subtitles are a bit more subjective. By default, the Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage service backs up your Documents, Images and even Desktop folders. But it makes a placeholder – a kind of bookmark file on your local hard drive. Files stored locally are stored on your local hard drive, but copies are also stored on OneDrive (provided you have space). Windows is smart enough to know if there are such copies, and can delete local copies, maintain bookmarks and maintain copies in the cloud. (Note: don’t expect this option to only copy your hard drive to the cloud. It won’t! It will only clean up local files that have been previously backed up, which won’t all be on your PC.)
In File Explorer, files stored on your local hard drive (on your PC) are indicated by a green check mark next to them. OneDrive files that are only stored in the cloud have a cloud icon. What Windows can do is delete local files that have been backed up in the cloud, saving space.
Files that are backed up on OneDrive can be accessed by clicking on it in File Explorer, just like a local file. Before you can access it, however, it must be downloaded from OneDrive, which may not be desirable for users with slow or unreliable Internet connections. You can save space, of course, but it might not be worth the inconvenience.
Likewise, you might find that the remaining Storage category isn’t worth exploring as part of your digital cleaning routine. Desktop and Video Folders may save the content you want to save, and even choose the Show more categories link at the bottom of the link just open a folder like Documents and Music that you might want to leave intact.
How to use Storage Sense, your digital housekeeper
Remember how “Temporary files” are the ideal location for finding files that you can get rid of? Why not let Windows do it for you? That is the reason behind Storage Sense, the switch at the top of the Storage Settings page. Activate it, and it will automatically delete files in the Recycle Bin after 30 days, and delete other temporary files as well.
Do yourself a favor, and open the Storage Sense configuration / options page, which has been changed since the feature debuted at the beginning of the Windows life cycle. Our previous Sense Storage method is still valid, but Windows has added a control to optionally delete files in your Downloads folder. I never wanted that to happen, and you might not want that to happen either.
Note that Storage Sense is only triggered when your disk space is running low. If you download a big game like Flight Simulator, this game can make Windows stumble – too much free space to run Storage Sense, but not enough to download the game. You can always go to the bottom of the Storage Sense configuration page and start Storage Sense manually.
WinDirStat: Tool for Steam gamers
One major limitation that I have noticed about Windows Storage settings themselves is that they have an eye patch where other application stores are concerned. If you download several games through Steam, for example, Windows cannot recognize how much space is used.
WinDirStat is very powerful, though scary.
As explained by my colleague, Brad Chacos, WinDirStat solves this problem by offering a top-down view of your hard drive, with a graphical representation of your file size and type. Want to find out how much space is used by .MP4 video files? WinDirStat can tell you. It presents this information to you in the File Explorer interface as it is combined with a graphical UI, so you might need to explore and find hidden Steam games, for example, that might have escaped your notice.
The combination of your own Windows Storage settings and WinDirStat might not magically clean your hard drive, but they will help you make decisions based on information about what to save and what to delete.