Whenever you buy a new Mac, you’re probably thinking (as I do): “Man, I’ll never fill this hard drive up.” Fat chance: Cut to a year later, when you’re suddenly getting error messages that your seemingly bottomless storage has somehow been filled to the brim. But with what? And where? The Finder sure as *$&# won’t help, but an app called DaisyDisk just might. It’s a utility that scans all your drives and generates a Star Trek-like visual display of all that crud that’s invisibly hogging up your disk space.
The ethereal-looking circular graph that DaisyDisk creates after scanning your hard drive is certainly more beautiful than your average file-organizing app. It’s also quite inscrutable: after using it, I honestly couldn’t make heads or tails of what the different colors or nested layers actually mean in terms of my data. They’re called “sunburst” maps, according to DaisyDisk co-creator Oleg Krupnov, and he tells Co.Design that he and his partner Taras Brizitsky “carried out research and found that circular maps are doubtlessly the winner for visualizing file systems, at least for the majority of people.” I didn’t find them intuitively meaningful, but they sure do animate nicely when you click on them — which, I’ll admit, actually got me to start exploring the contents of my hard drive (something a more “boringly” designed app probably wouldn’t have accomplished).
Soon I was clicking on any large-ish chunk in DaisyDisk’s gorgeous display just to see what it would be. Hm, what’s this one? Turns out it was 27 freaking gigabytes’ worth of old Mad Men episodes I’d forgotten about, and probably never would have dug up and trashed without DaisyDisk’s visually appealing help. If that’s the power of “pretty” interface design, I’m all for it.