The good news is, it’s not hard to free up space on your iPhone, if you know the right tricks, and we’re about to share them with you. We recommend that you address this issue as soon as possible rather than waiting for the internal memory to run out of space.
Running out of storage on your iPhone can severely limit what you can do with it – there’s no room for photos and videos, there’s no room for new apps and the apps you use, they misbehave because they don’t have a place to save new files.
If you’ve been using an iPhone for a while, you’ve probably seen the “Memory almost full” pop-up. Suddenly, you can’t take cute pictures of your pet or download new apps. While Apple doesn’t tell you how to free up space on your iPhone, tests show that it starts to slow down when you have less than 500MB of free space.
What takes up so much space on your iPhone?
The first step to cleaning the iPhone is knowing what is consuming all the storage in the first place. To see what’s taking up so much space on your iPhone, go to Settings> General> iPhone Storage.
At the top of the screen, you will see a horizontal bar graph showing the total amount of memory you have and the amount used. The chart is divided into five color-coded categories- apps, media, photos, messages, and “other”. If the bar is full, here’s how to free up space on your iPhone in 13 ways:
How to free up space on iPhone
1. Enable suggestions
Check if you have Recommendations in the iPhone Storage menu and enable it. If you want to free up space on your iPhone, you will probably see Apple’s storage space-saving tips just below your iPhone’s storage bar.
The tips shown will change depending on usage. Just click Enable to activate the recommended option. Note- Some tips will make unwanted changes to your phone. Be sure to read their description before enabling them.
2. Delete large and unused apps
To clear iPhone storage, select one from the list at the bottom of the iPhone Storage screen, then tap Delete App.
While still on the iPhone Storage screen, you can scroll down to see a list of all the apps you have on your phone. Each app in the list is sorted by size, with the largest ones at the top.
The apps also provide information about the last time you opened them. Clicking on any of the apps will give you the option to delete it. You can also delete an app from the Home screen. You can do this by pressing and holding an app you want to delete until it begins to wobble (probably for fear of being deleted). Tap the “X” at the top left of the app, then click Delete in the confirmation pop-up.
Warning- Deleting an app will completely remove it from your phone. You will lose all your data associated with the app (such as saved games, passwords, etc.). And you will need to visit the App Store and download it again if you want it back to your phone.
3. Download large apps
To download an app, tap one from the iPhone Storage screen and then click Offload App. Offloading apps allows you to reduce the size of an app, without losing any documents or data associated with it.
When you download an app, it doesn’t disappear from the Home screen. But the app now has a cloud icon with a down arrow to the left of the name. You can reinstall the downloaded app by tapping it. Note- An internet connection will be required to reinstall the app. So, don’t download any apps you want to use outside of a wireless network.
You can also automatically download unused apps by going to Settings> iTunes & App Store> Offload unused apps. The apps will be automatically downloaded when the slider is green.
4. Clean the iPhone by deleting downloaded music
To clean iPhone memory, delete your music, go to iPhone Storage> Music, and tap Edit. To delete all your songs, tap the red minus sign next to the “All Songs” option, then tap the Delete button that appears. You can also delete individual artists by tapping the red minus sign and then Delete.
5. Delete old podcasts
To delete podcasts, go to iPhone Storage> Podcasts and click Edit at the bottom of the screen. Then click the red minus sign next to a podcast and then the Delete button that appears. When you delete a podcast, all episodes will be removed.
You can also prevent the Podcast app from automatically downloading new episodes by going to Settings> Podcasts. On the Episode Downloads screen, select the Off option.
If you want to make sure your podcasts don’t take up too much space in the future, you can also enable the Delete Played Episodes option. This way the podcasts will be deleted from your phone after you finish listening to them.
6. Store your photos on the cloud
To save your images to iCloud, go to Settings> Photos> iCloud Photos. Then make sure the slider next to iCloud Photos is green.
When you enable it, your photos will be automatically uploaded to Apple’s cloud storage and from your phone. Do not worry. You can still browse, edit, and share your photos at any time. If you want to know how to transfer photos to Mac, check out our previous article here.
7. Turn off photo streaming
You can turn off photo streaming by going to Settings> Photos, then turn off the Upload to My Photo Stream button. You’ll know it’s off when it’s off.
Photo Stream syncs the last 1,000 photos from all your devices in the past 30 days and collects them in a feed. While it doesn’t count towards iCloud storage, it takes up space on your phone. But in reality, these are just duplicates of photos you already have, so you might as well turn this feature off.
8. Save only HDR quality photos
You can save space by going to Settings> Camera and turning off the Keep normal photo button. When you take a photo with an iPhone, two versions are saved- one with HDR (High Dynamic Range) and one normally exposed. HDR combines 3 photos with different exposures to give you one with the best colors and details.
When you have enabled the Keep normal photo option, a normal version of the photo will be saved on your phone along with an HDR. Disabling it means that your photos only take up half the space, which is perfect if you want to free up space on your iPhone.
9. Delete the contents stored in Messages
You can manually delete the content in Messages by going to Settings> General> iPhone Storage> Messages. The content is divided into five categories- main conversations, photos, videos, GIFs and stickers, and more. Each of the categories also shows the total size of all files. Select a category, then click Edit. Then choose the item or items you want to delete.
Finally, tap on the Trash icon in the top right corner of the screen. Every photo, video, GIF, and sticker you use to spice up your messages takes up some space. Even if you only get one, it takes up some space on your phone. Even if they are small files, many can add up.
10 Automatically delete messages
You can set your iPhone to automatically delete messages by going to Settings> Messages. Under Message history, click Keep messages, then choose 30 days or 1 year. Tap Delete in the confirmation dialog.
By default, the message history in Messages is set to keep messages forever. But you don’t really need to cling to all of them unless you have legal or other important reasons for doing so.
You can also automatically delete audio messages. Go to Settings> Messages> Audio Messages and click on Expiry. Choose After 2 minutes instead of the default Never option.
What else does it mean in iPhone storage?
The Other category consists of temporary files that iOS does not recognize and cannot place in the standard categories. Other content consists of files such as downloaded email attachments and web browsing caches. The Other category also includes device settings, Siri voices, voiceover data, and system files.
If you want to free up space on your iPhone, here’s how to delete all other storage:
How to free up the phone memory
Unlike the categories of apps, media, photos, and messages, the “Other” category is much less simple. You won’t be able to see which items comprise this category in the iPhone’s Storage menu.
1. Clear the browser cache
To clear Safari cache files, go to Settings> Safari> Advanced> Website Data. You can delete the website data individually or choose to remove all website data.
Browsers like Safari and Chrome store data in their caches for the web pages you visit often. This data is saved so that the browser does not have to load the content every time you go to the site. This allows the browser to load pages faster, but the data also takes up storage space.
The same goes for music or videos downloaded from Apple TV or Apple Music. IOS classifies downloaded content as Media, but cached files are stored in Other. To clear the Google Chrome browser cache, click the ellipsis in the bottom navigation panel. Tap History then Clear Browsing Data.
2. Delete the old voice notes
You can delete a voice memo by opening the Voice Memos app and tapping Edit. Then select a recording you want to remove and press Delete.
Voice memos are a great tool for students to record a lecture or record interviews and meetings in a business setting. But like all other files, they can consume your storage space. Note that one hour of recorded audio typically takes up 30MB of space.
3. Delete offline content from apps
To delete offline maps from Google Maps, simply click on the hamburger menu on the top left (the one with three lines next to the search box). Go to Offline Maps and choose the one you want to delete.
Navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze store some data in your phone memory so you can use it even if you’re offline. But if you don’t use these maps that often, consider deleting them to free up valuable space on your phone.
Just like the human body, your iPhone also needs a detox from time to time for it to function optimally. If all else fails, you can backup your iPhone data to iTunes before restoring it to factory settings. But until then, these tips should help you know how to free up space on your iPhone.