Apr 05

Get the Grand Perspective of your system’s hard drive!

This is a brief writeup of a nifty little Mac utility that I use quite often.  In my previous engineering days, I spent most of my time on a Linux OS system.  One of the utilities built into that OS (using KDE Desktop for those geek inclined) is that their file manager had a built in utility that would give a graphical picture of the files on your hard drive.  You could present the information by file, folder or the entire drive.  This is a very handy way to try and make sense of the thousands and thousands of files we all generate in the course of our work.  Having a visual clue as to who and where are the large data hogs on your system can allow you to easily find how you might optimize your hard drive and get rid of unnecessary files that are taking up needed space on your drive.  I don’t need to mention how critical this becomes when working with video footage!

In moving to a Mac based workflow I wondered if there was not such a utility for OSX.  Turns out there is.  It is called Grand Perspective.  Their web site is located here.  The program is freeware but making a donation to the cause will help keep the project alive.  So let me cut to the chase and show you a little bit about Grand Perspective.

When you first open the application up it is a little misleading as there is no immediate window that opens up, just a menu at the top of your screen.


Grand Perspective Start Menu

Once opened you can now select a drive or directory that you wish to have scanned.  Here is the scan menu and my selection for a folder to be scanned.


Grand Persective File Scan Menu

Scan Folder Selection

Grand Persective Scan Folder Selection

In my example I simply took my home folder and selected it to be scanned.  The scanner opens up with a dialog box to show you progress.  It is fairly quick although if you scan an entire drive and it is a large drive it may take a few minutes to complete the scan.  Now is the fun part.  When the can completes you are presented with a graphical picture of your scan selection.  Here is a graphical view of my home directory on my MacBookPro laptop.


Grand Persective View of a scanned directory - Click to enlarge

If you look closely at my scanned directory you can quickly discern where are the large files.  In the scan above I have selected the large box (file) on the top left.  Note that the box has been highlighted with a white outline AND the directory in which that file is located has also been highlighted with a white box.  There is a comment field at the bottom that shows you the name and directory path of the exact file you are mousing over or have selected.  You can click on the buttons on the top tool bar to either open the file, view it in the finder or, when enabled, you may delete the file.  Deleting a file is not enabled by default and you must turn this button on through the preferences tab found under the Grand Perspective Menu.  Here is a quick snapshot of the Preferences Dialog Box:


Grand Perspective Prefences Tab

Note that in the preferences you can change your color scheme, add filters, enable delete and change how file sizes are displayed.  There is a side bar drawer that may be extended or hidden.  This is enabled with the little arrow icon on the far top right of the window.  You can change your display or view additional information about your scan in this drawer selection.  In my example I did not need the large file or even the directory that the file was located so I went to my finder, deleted the directory and went back to Grand Perspective to view the new look of my drive.  Note, that when you make changes (deletions or additions) you must rescan the drive or selection again.  If you go to the File menu there is a rescan selection or if you customize your toolbar you can simply click the rescan button.  I did a rescan and now my home directory looks like the following:


Grand Perspective after directory deletion and rescan - click to enlarge

You can easily see how things shift around but still you can very quickly identify large files and directories that either may be deleted, archived or moved to make more space for your work.  The help files that come with the program are excellent so I am not going to go through a complete tutorial but hopefully you will find this to be a useful addition to your collection of Mac tools to help you with your FCP production workflow.

1 comment

  1. Scott Anderson

    I’m also a fan of Disk Inventory X, which has similar functionality.

    It is absolutely free and released under the GPL.


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