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!


Add Yours
  • Beautiful looking app, just a killer on the price. It’s not something you need to buy (as mentioned). Perhaps a perfect little goodie to throw into the next MacHeist bundle? ;)

    Love the icon, well done to whoever designed that one.

  • No offense, but wow what a rip-off!
    Something like this is available in every single major linux distribution for free now for years (open source) called “Disk Usage Analyzer”.

    Here is a picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shoeseal/475280435/

    A quick google search: http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&safe=off&q=disk%20usage%20analyzer&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

  • Please allow me to mention the following programs in addition to Disk Inventory X (http://www.derlien.com) as alternatives for a student budget:
    – GrandPerspective (open source): http://grandperspectiv.sourceforge.net
    – OmniDiskSweeper (now freeware): http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnidisksweeper

    GrandPerspective’s as well as Disk Inventory X’ focus is on providing a graphical overview of the disk usage (as done by DaisyDisk). In contrast, OmniDiskSweeper is strong regarding cleaning up (i.e. deleting) the files which take up to much space.

    By the way, BackupLoupe (shareware at the – in a positive sense – unreasonable price of $ 1.50) is very helpful for figuring out the disk usage of former Time Machine backups: http://www.soma-zone.com/BackupLoupe

  • This is a nice program, I just might try it out. The interface is slightly futuristic as well.

  • I’ve been using this app for a while and it works pretty good. (could scan a bit faster IMO) just leave it running while you take a lunch break and find out what files are hogging your system. plus it looks pretty cool too, but yea the price is tough for what it does.

  • Grandperspective is a replica of disk inventory but its in constant development


  • Nice looking app! Must check it out

  • I’m liking Baseline more just because it provides a method for comparing data from previous scans. it can clearly display what directory expanded the most from the last scan.


  • I agree with Ahmed about GrandPerspective. It works great, and it’s free! The Baseline app is cool, but at $20 I can only hope that extra functionality will someday be rolled into GrandPerspective….

  • Greetings, guys.

    My name is Taras and I’m the designer behind DaisyDisk (the icon is not mine, it’s by Kate from http://www.pixel-mixer.ru).

    First of all I’d liked to thank you for your comments, they’re always welcome. Now let me address some issues raised here.

    Calling DaisyDisk a rip-off of Baobab (http://www.marzocca.net/linux/baobab) feels like a slap, but OK, let’s learn some basics first. Spending a little time in Google will let you know that Baobab, Fileligt, Scanner and a few other less known utilities use sunburst aka tree-pie aka ring-chart (http://antimatroid.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/sunburst-an-effective-information-visualization/) visualization for displaying disk hierarchy. It’s newer that treemap visualization used by Disk Inventory X and (approximately) a million of other similar utilities but have numerous advantages before it. Ability to clearly display file/folder hierarchy, no “shuffling” on data changes and, more important, better perception by end users made it a better instrument for drive usage visualization. No wonder that research papers (often mentioning abstract tree structures) found use in some real-life tools like ones mentioned. Nevertheless, here similarities end. We’ve made a series of our own researches and improved our sunburst representation (small file clustering, “empty” sectors, infinite depth level, smart color coding are just few ones worth mentioning) so if you place nearby two scans of, say, DaisyDisk and Filelight you may find certain differences. Not mentioning a completely different navigation system which I’m really proud of.

    Here comes the major difference between DaisyDisk and seemingly similar tools. It has a lot of work behind it. Many times of design and research work free tool creators just could not do. Many details are already mentioned in the article, but there’s much more under the hood. We wanted the application to be nice, sexy and useful. We think it is.
    We don’t want to stop here and have some big plans for future versions.

    Future versions… Free Disk Inventory is dead for 2 years, Filelight for Mac is forever in alpha, Grand Perspective is merely berating. That’s the price of “freedom”. Having a full-time coder (is anyone really naive enough to think we “borrowed” our blazing fast engine from some GPL tool?), interaction designer, purchasing graphics… All this comes at cost. Can you name any competing commercial product that comes with a feature-unlimited demo and does not turn into a crippleware after expiration? Note that we don’t force anyone to register as we tried to expect situations when the tool you really need NOW has expired and stopped working. Don’t have money now? No problems, use our application, but if you really like it and find it helpful, spend some resources on registration, that’s not hard.

    As for the price… If $20 sounds like too much for some, here’s a deal (say I’m in a great mood today): until July 10 send a message to [email protected] with a link to this post and get a 50% discount code. For $10 it’s a steal, so don’t miss your chance or, well, use Disk Inventory or such.

    • Taras,

      Thank you for a fantastic response and the promotion code. It’s great to have you respond to our reader’s queries.

  • Hi Taras,

    Just downloaded and tried out DaisyDisk and it rocks. What a fantastic app which does exactly what I wanted – shows me where all my HD space is being taken up and allows me to clean it up with the minimum of fuss.

    I’ve just emailed to see about your offer of a 50% discount and I’m going to tweet about it too.

    Many thanks.

  • Greetings again, guys.

    As promised, discount code has been sent to everyone. In case I forgot to send the code to anyone (we’re still mortals) here it is: APPSTORM.
    Just use it when making a purchase and let us know if you have any suggestions/issues.

    Any suggestions/questions? Use support feedback form/e-mail. You’ll definitely receive an answer from either me or our coder, Oleg.

  • Wow, stunning interface, and the app itself is /very/ useful, I’ve already deleted 10 GB of files that I thought I had removed! I’ll make sure I buy this before the 10th of July.

  • Thanks for the post! Wonderful program, very well developed, and beautiful animations.
    4 1/2 stars from me.

  • Great app that worth its very small fee! Just run it side-by-side with a free program and it will become obvious!!!

  • Beautiful, futuristic and clean – dat’s Daisydisk. I have stopped looking or using Disk Inventory X ;).

  • I didn’t know you could charge for something that’s based on code distributed under an Open Source Software license…

    I mean, doesn’t everyone know about Scanner, by Steffen Gerlach?

    Why, anybody with experience in XCode should be able to step up to the plate and distribute a free version of this. But I guess if you’re the first, you might as well charge everyone else, who knows less about what’s available. Sounds like a rip-off, but it’s certainly one way to make money.

    • Hey, I’m the developer of the open-source Filelight.app, and I think you’re being ridiculously harsh on the Daisy Disk folks. As far as I can tell they’re not doing anything wrong.

      Yes, they’re using a visualization that others have used before–so am I in Filelight.app, and the guy who wrote Scanner, and the folks behind Baobab. But the code they’re using appears to be all their own, at least as far as I can tell. Re-implementing a concentric pie chart (aka “sunburst”) tool is not that hard, I put Filelight.app together in just a few days, there’s no reason they would have to steal anybody else’s code.

      Also, you’re making some pretty strange assumptions. Scanner is written in Delphi, how do you plan to use that in XCode? Also, if it they were using open source code they could still charge, under certain conditions—look at what Red Hat does.

  • we borrowed your review for our giveaway contest. http://smokingdesigners.com

    Great one by the way.

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  • With some fantastic interface features and speedy analysis, it’s certainly worth taking a closer look at.