Mac space running out? Whatsapp backup to iCloud may be the cause

A few weeks ago I noticed my Mac was running a bit low on disk space. It didn’t surprise me, since I have loads of RAW photos that take up massive amounts of space, and it’s a 256GB box.

However, since it hit around 15GB I’ve been keeping an eye on it. Since then, I’ve seen how almost on a daily basis the free space drops and drops…

If this situation sounds familiar to you, maybe you can find the solution here.

When it hit 10GB I started looking for an explanation. After examining with Disk Inventory X, I noticed that ~/Library/Caches folder was really fat. Fat as in ~40GB. You can browse directly to that folder by pressing CMD+Shift+G on Finder and entering ~/Library/Caches.

After further investigation, I found that folder com.apple.bird was the culprit, weighing around ~35GB.

Apparently that folder stores iCloud related stuff and you can delete it safely. I deleted it, but in a matter of weeks it got fat again. I had eradicated the symptom, but not the problem.

After searching the web again, I found an article¹ that shared the same concern. The theory is that the root problem is Whatsapp backup to iCloud. It’s not 100% proven, but after I disabled Whatsapp backups, the folder hasn’t grown again. Alternatively, I think you can enable weekly or monthly backups in Whatsapp.

Let me know in the comments if this has helped you or you have any clues on this topic.

[1] – Large com.apple.bird directory – Apple Support Communities

 

  • Luca Terzaghi

    That worked! Seems like a “bug” from Whatsapp?

    • Hey Luca, I’m glad it was useful for someone. Yeah, my first thought is that WhatsApp is the culprit.

  • Harold Li

    Thank you. This was driving me nuts.

    • Glad to help. Spread the word! ^^

  • Matt Shelley

    So you literally disabled iCloud backup in WhatsApp on your iPhone? Scanned a few of the files in there are they words.. ‘whatsapp’ appear frequently. Mine was hitting 65GB! Did you disable it anywhere else?

    • Yup, just disabling that did the trick. I checked just now and that folder only weighs 3.7GB.

  • Krishen Greenwell

    Mine was at 25GB! Figured out it was a problem while looking at my disk usage using DaisyDisk (but love OmniDiskSweeper as well for the same job). Found this little app on Github that analyzes what is using your disk in the com.apple.bird folder… might be helpful for someone else too.

    https://github.com/bwesterb/blame-bird

    Thank you for your analysis, I will be disabling iCloud backup on WhatApp on my phone pronto!

  • The whole problem here is that I can’t loose my whatsapp. I need the data and I can’t disable the backup. Do you know if there’s a way to disable the access of macOS to the com.apple.bird directory?

    I’ve been looking for a workaround and I can’t find anything.

    Thanks for the help!

    • Hey Caio, sorry but I haven’t gone back to enabling so I wouldn’t know :(

      • It’s cool. I’ve tried disabling iCloud Drive on macOS preferences. I hope to keep backing up whatsapp and preventing Mac from filling that weird folder, haha. Thanks btw!