A Quick Guide to Freeing Up Space on Your iPhone

A Quick Guide to Freeing Up Space on Your iPhone

Eventually, every iPhone owner will see the message that their device is low on storage. This seems to come at the worst times, like when you want to install a new app or take an important picture.

Thankfully, it's not difficult to delete some old files and free up space on your iPhone. Here are some easy ways to do so.

See What's Using Your iPhone Storage

You don't have to guess what's using space on your device. Modern versions of iOS make it easy to see what's using the most storage and take action. Open Settings, then head to General > iPhone Storage.

After waiting a moment for this tool to run, you can take a look at the breakdown of your device storage. You'll see a bar at the top, visualizing your storage in the categories of Apps, Media, System, Messages, Photos, and Other. Below this are some Recommendations for low-hanging fruit.

Offload or Delete Unused Apps

Your iPhone might recommend the Offload Unused Apps option here. When you enable this, your phone will automatically remove apps that you don't use. While doing so deletes the app's files, it keeps documents and your personal data for the app.

After your phone offloads an app, you'll still see it on your device as normal, but it shows a small cloud icon next to its name. Tapping the app will start the re-downloading process. Once it's done, you'll have full access to everything in the app, just like you used to.

Offloading is a handy option when you haven't used an app in a while, but aren't ready to get rid of it either. If you don't see this shortcut in the Recommendations section, go to Settings > App Store (or iTunes & App Store) and enable the Offload Unused Apps option.

In case you don't want to turn on this option for all apps, you can still offload or uninstall apps one-by-one. Back on the iPhone Storage page, scroll down and you'll see a list of apps, listed from most storage used to the least. One each one's page, you'll see the App Size (the actual application file) and Documents & Data (files you have saved from the app).

Tap Offload App to immediately delete the app's files while keeping your personal data. If you don't use the app anymore, use Delete App, which will permanently delete the app and all its data from your phone.

Manage Individual App Data

For some Apple apps (such as Podcasts and Messages), you can manage individual data on the iPhone Storage menu. Open Podcasts to see how much space each show is taking up, and delete it if you don't need it. In Messages, you can manage individual conversations and delete large attachments like videos.

Finally, don't forget that in some apps, you can control how much data the app saves. For example, if you have Spotify Premium and have saved music offline, that will contribute to the space Spotify takes up. Consider removing some saved playlists and albums to free up space.

Other apps, like WhatsApp, also have an option to see which chats are using the most space. Check the apps you use for tools like this.

Move Photos to Cloud Storage

Pictures take up a lot of space, thanks to the high quality of today's iPhone cameras. If you take lots of photos, you can probably move some of them to cloud storage to get them off your phone while still keeping them accessible.

If you don't already use another photo service, head to Settings > Photos and make sure the iCloud Photos slider is enabled. This uploads all your photos and videos to iCloud, so you can access them from any device where you're signed into your account.

Once you've done this, tap Optimize iPhone Storage below the slider. Then, when your device gets low on space, it replaces the original copies of your media with smaller versions to save space. You can choose to download the original quality versions whenever you want.

Note that if you use iCloud Photos and delete photos from your device, they will be deleted from your other devices too. If this is something you want to do, we recommend using Google Photos.

While the service doesn't offer free unlimited "high quality" storage like it used to, you still get a generous 15GB of space for storing your photos. Plus, you can delete pictures from your device and still keep them in Google Photos.

Change Camera Settings

Since photos and videos can use a lot of space, it's a good idea to reduce how much storage they take in the future.

Live Photos are a cool feature of your iPhone's camera app that capture a few seconds of video before and after you take a photo. They're a neat way to enhance memories, but also take up more space than a regular photo.

To disable Live Photos, simply tap their icon while using the camera. On iPhone models with Face ID, the Live Photos icon is at the top-right of the screen. It looks like a series of circles, with the outermost one being a dotted line. When Live Photos are off, a line appears through the icon.

By visiting Settings > Camera, you can change a few other options related to camera storage. Check the following:

  • Formats: Use High efficiency for the lowest file size.
  • Record Video: This page offers several options for video recording, with approximate file sizes for one minute of video at each option. Choose the best balance of quality and size for your needs.
  • Record Slo-mo: There are two options; picking a lower the frame rate will reduce file size considerably.

While you're here, you should also select Preserve Settings and make sure Live Photo is enabled. Otherwise, you'll have to turn it off every time you use the app.

Keeping Some iPhone Storage Open

Hopefully, your iPhone has enough storage that you don't need to walk through these steps often. But it's easy to use so much storage that you don't even realize you're low. By following these tips, you can make room for new apps, photos, or documents on your phone.

For more, check out important iPhone security practices you should know.


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