From the moment you unbox your shiny, new iPhone, you’re thrust into a race against time. No, not just against that inevitable moment when you drop your phone facedown on the ground only to cross your fingers and hope for the best, but against the looming iPhone “Storage Almost Full” —or worse, “iPhone Storage Full—message. It feels like no matter what you do, how many photo purges (may the best selfie win) or cloud backups you might try, you’re sure to miss out on a perfectly timed pic of your dog’s cuteness due to that annoying “Cannot Take Photo” storage error.
The easiest solution would be to buy a considerable amount of additional iCloud storage, spending a sizeable amount of money in the process. Unfortunately, if you’d rather not drop the cash on extra iCloud space, you will more than likely run out of storage after a year or so. But take heart, dear Apple fans. Many iPhone users undergo those aggravating pop-up windows, and some of them have been thoughtful enough to share their advice on how to free up space on iPhones. So don’t miss out on that Insta-perfect pic of Fluffy. Keep reading for our favorite ways to optimize iPhone storage.
How Much Storage Do I Have Left?
How to Free up Space on iPhone
Delete or Offload Unnecessary Apps & Data
Offload Unused Apps
Delete Unused Apps
Delete Downloaded Music and Podcasts
Delete Downloaded Music
Delete Downloaded Podcasts
Optimize Photos on and Taken by Your iPhone
Enable High Efficiency Mode
Optimize Photos on Your iPhone
Delete Message Data or Conversations
Delete Videos on iPhone
Delete Other Storage on iPhone
Move Your Data
Not Enough Space? Sell Your Phone to GadgetGone
First, you’ll first need to assess the damage. Look at how much space you have remaining and what things are taking up the most memory. To do this, go to: Settings > General > iPhone Storage.
Pay attention to the color-coded bar graph at the top to see how space is being taken up by different types of data and how much storage is left.
Directly below the graph, you’ll notice some Apple-approved recommendations for freeing up space including Offload Unused Apps, Optimize Photos, and Review iTunes Videos.
Finally, beneath the recommendations, you’ll see your apps organized from largest to smallest. This shows the amount of storage each is using on your iPhone.
To see this if your iPhone is running iOS 10 or earlier, select Manage Storage below Storage.
Is your phone’s storage space bar graph getting dangerously close to full? Here are our seven top tips for how to clear up space on iPhones.
When making more space available on your iPhone, the easiest way is to get rid of, either temporarily or permanently, any unused apps or unessential data. Take a look at that list of apps and storage amounts and take note of which are hogging up all the room. Are there any that you haven’t touched in months or that you want to take a break from?
Once you’ve found your initial target, tap on it. You’ll notice two different options on the app’s details page: Offload App and Delete App.
If you want to take a break from an app or if you’re in a pinch and need to clear some space quickly, offloading an app is a great option. This is also a good method if an app is much larger than any downloaded data related to it. Unlike deleting an app, offloading an app only deletes the app itself and preserves its data. This way, an app can be downloaded again at a later date and use the previous data.
Note that this will only be especially useful if the app alone takes up a significant amount of space. If the app itself is small but you have a ton of downloaded content, like with Spotify, offloading it will only free up a small amount of storage.
While you can choose individual apps to either offload or delete, your iPhone also gives you the option of offloading all unnecessary apps at once. To do this, simply tap Enable when Offload Unused Apps appears as a recommendation or go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores > Offload Unused Apps.
In contrast, Delete App gets rid of an app and all its associated data entirely. So, if there’s a sizeable app that you no longer use, deleting it is the first step you should take to free up some extra space.
Do you try to avoid using a lot of data by downloading a bunch of music or your favorite podcast? Do either the Music or Podcast app show up towards the top of your iPhone Storage list? Clear up a fair amount of storage space by saying goodbye to a few (or all) of your playlists and episodes.
To delete your downloaded music, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Music > Edit. If you want to get rid of your entire music library, select the red minus sign next to All Songs and tap Delete. If you’d rather delete an artist or two, select the red minus sign next to the artist’s name and hit Delete. You can also click into the artist’s details to delete individual albums or songs. Note that this will only delete the songs downloaded on your Music app, not Spotify or other music players.
To delete your downloaded podcasts, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Podcasts > Edit. By tapping the red minus sign next to a podcast, you will delete any of the episodes you have downloaded. Or to keep your iPhone from automatically downloading podcast episodes in the future and save yourself some storage space in the process, go to Settings > Podcasts > Download Episodes in the Episode Downloads section > End. If you’d rather delete episodes after you’ve listened to them, go to Settings > Podcasts > Delete Played Episodes.
Depending on which model you have, there are a couple of ways you can optimize your iPhone’s photos. Whether optimizing the photos stored on your device or shooting new photos in the high-efficiency mode, you could save GBs of space.
If you call an iPhone 7 or later your own, you can also optimize any future photos you might take on your phone by enabling the High Efficiency mode. The image quality will remain the same, however images will take up significantly less space. To turn this mode on, go to Settings > Camera > Formats > High Efficiency.
To save lower-resolution photos on your iPhone and send all the high-quality pics directly to your iCloud, you’ll want to optimize your photo album. To do this, just tap Enable when Optimize Photos appears as a recommendation on the iPhone Storage screen. Unfortunately, if you frequently share images directly from your phone, it’s important to keep in mind that you will be sending the lower-res version.
If you frequently use your iPhone’s HDR mode, you may be unwittingly taking up twice as much space as normal. In fact, your phone saves two copies in this mode: the original and the HDR-improved version. If you’d rather not keep the original copies and like to reclaim the storage space, go to Settings > Camera > Disable Keep Normal Photo by toggling the switch to the left.
You can also free up precious space on your iPhone while preserving all those precious memories by saving all your photos to iCloud. To do this, go to Settings, tap Photos, and then toggle the iCloud Photos switch to green.
Finally, although it is convenient to have the last 1,000 photos from across your devices over the past 30 days located in one convenient feed, you end up paying for that convenience in storage space. Luckily, these photos are only duplicates, so free up space by going to Settings, tapping on Photos, and turning off Upload to My Photo Stream.
Texting can take up a lot of space, especially once you start exchanging attachments like photos, videos, and GIFs. Thankfully, you have the option of getting rid of entire conversations, individual messages, or even just certain attachments.
To delete conversations, open Messages, find the message you want to delete, swipe left, then tap Delete twice. If you’d rather just delete a few texts, click into the conversation, then find, tap, and hold one of the messages you’d like to delete. Tap More. If you wish to delete more messages, tap the bubbles next to the texts, then select the Trash and Delete Messages.
If you would prefer to keep the conversations but get rid of the attachments, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Messages. You’ll see different categories to choose from including photos, videos, GIFs and stickers, and Other, along with the amount of storage each is using. You can also tap Review Large Attachments under Recommendations. To delete items from individual categories, select a category then go to: Edit > select the items to delete > Trash.
For the more future-minded among us, you can also set up your iPhone to automatically delete messages after either 30 days or a year. This seems like a pretty big date range, but who are we to argue over more automatic storage space? Plus, Messages will save texts for all eternity if you don’t set this up. To make it happen, go to Settings > Messages > Keep Messages, then select either 30 Days or 1 Year and tap Delete.
For bonus points, arrange for any audio messages you might receive to automatically delete by going to Settings > Messages > Audio Messages > Expire > After 2 Minutes.
Videos are notorious for taking up tons of space on your phone. Get rid of any that you don’t need anymore by going to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Show All (if needed) > Review Personal Videos, then find the video you wish to delete and tap Trash followed by Delete From This iPhone.
When looking at the bar graph of your iPhone’s storage space, you probably noticed the ephemeral Other category. But just what does other mean in iPhone storage? This consists of temporary files that your phone isn’t sure how to categorize and includes things like web browser caches, system files, and more.
While cached data is great for a faster web browsing experience, all that saved up data also takes up quite a bit of space. So, how to clear other storage on iPhone? Clear your Safari cache by going to Settings > Safari > Advanced > Website Data. From there, you can either delete information individually or wipe the entire cache by selecting Remove All Website Data.
If all else fails and you’re stuck on how to clear up space on your iPhone, your last resort is to move your data somewhere else. Digital options like iCloud (provided you have enough storage), Google Photos, Google Drive, and Dropbox are great places to transfer or backup photos, documents, videos, or music if your iPhone storage is almost full.
Alternatively, you could purchase additional storage by going to Amazon and buying an external flash drive.
Well, you’ve fought the good fight. You deleted everything you could, transferred everything else to iCloud, and still don’t have enough storage on your iPhone. Now what? It may be time for an upgrade. But don’t just trade in your old iPhone to Apple or Verizon (their trade-in programs leave much to be desired)—sell it to GadgetGone. We put money in your pocket in as little as two business days. And thanks to our PriceMatch+ guarantee, you’re sure to get the best offer in the business.
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