DaisyDisk: Futuristic Data Visualization

I have previously written about DiskInventory, a great solution for discovering the files and programs eating up hard drive space. The main problem with DiskInventory was a lack of development, and I expressed a wish to see a modern solution.

Enter DaisyDisk. Whilst no relation to DiskInventory, DaisyDisk takes the concept of visually displaying your drive and brings it into the 21st Century. With some fantastic interface features and speedy analysis, it’s certainly worth taking a closer look at.

Selecting a Drive

After opening the application, you’re prompted to select a drive to analyze. This can either be a traditional internal hard disk, a USB device, or a remote drive (though be prepared to wait a little while!). You can also opt to perform an index of a single folder.

Selecting a Drive or Folder

Selecting a Drive or Folder

It’s difficult to make out from the screenshot, but DaisyDisk has a thoroughly lick-able translucent interface.

Scanning Drive Contents

After selecting a drive, DaisyDisk will analyze it to transform the contents into a visual “daisy”. I appreciate the loading bar (not present in ExpanDrive), to offer an indication of how long the process will take. Also worth noting is the impressive analysis speed – it only took a couple of minutes to go through my 250GB laptop disk.

Scanning a Drive

Scanning a Drive

Visualizing Data

When the scan is completed, you’re presented with a futuristic chart, detailing each of the high-level folders or files taking up the greatest space:

Visualizing Data

Visualizing Data

Hovering your cursor over a segment will update the right sidebar to display contextual information, including:

  • The folder or file name and path
  • A “top list” of the largest files contained within the folder

You can then click on a segment to drill down through the directory structure. To keep track of where you’re currently viewing, a breadcrumb trail updates at the top of the screen:

Don't get lost!

Don't get lost!

Files appear grey

Files appear grey

As you move between directories, the central chart will rotate and re-draw itself to represent the new set of files. It may seem a little confusing at first, but after experimenting for a while it begins to feel natural. I don’t find this style of visualization quite as straight-forward as DiskInventory, but it certainly looks impressive.

It’s possible to quickly determine whether a segment represents a clickable directory or a static file through the color scheme. Directories are colored, files are grey.

Quick Look

Usefully, DaisyDisk offers full Quick Look support – pressing space over any item will display more information about it’s location and contents:

Quick Look Integration

Quick Look Integration

You can also right-click a file to view it within Finder.

User Experience

DaisyDisk is a fairly simple app. It doesn’t aim to act as an all-in-one Mac cleaning tool, and you can’t even delete files from within the software itself. As with many applications, however, it’s simplicity is a strength. A great deal of thought has been put into the best way to display data, and offer an experience which impresses the user.

The developers have certainly succeeded, and I admit to feeling slightly like a government agent when flicking through files and folders. Whether you prefer the sunburst graph to a traditional grid is a personal preference. I would certainly appreciate an option to use either view, as the circular layout does take a little while to understand.

In addition, the price may pose a barrier for many people. $19.95 is fairly expensive for an application which performs functionality available elsewhere for free. If DaisyDisk was priced at the $10 mark, I would recommend it without hesitation. At the current price, I’d suggest downloading the trial to judge how useful you find the app to be.

Whether or not you purchase DaisyDisk, it’s worth downloading just to experience the user interface. You’ll see your hard drive in a completely new light!