How To Free Up Space On Your iPhone
While our phones have transformed the way we communicate and experience the world – some aspects of their design haven’t kept up with our needs.
Whether you’re an amateur photographer, capturing every memory for the future, or you’re a music junkie who has to have the latest tracks on your iPhone – you’re likely to hit a breaking point when it comes to your storage.
Purchasing a higher spec iPhone with more memory is certainly one option – but a very expensive one. There are also external solutions and accessories that you can use to supplement your storage – from tiny storage modules to signing up to monthly subscription based storage options in the cloud.
However, those aren’t the only options available. No matter what the cause is – one too many space-guzzling apps, games, videos, collections of photos from that stunning holiday you went on, or endless playlists of the latest music – there will always be a way to inch back some space on your iPhone without losing what’s important to you.
That’s where this guide comes in. You can prioritise what’s most important to you, personally, and cherry pick the tips that apply most to you and your iPhone usage.
Yes, being brutal with culling files on your iPhone will always help – but there are a number of tips you can take up before you get to that stage. Here are our suggestions for a quick phone clean up.
Tip 1: Diagnose The Problem: Find Out What’s Taking Up The Most Space
The first and most important step is to find out exactly what apps need cleaning up, before cleaning up your iPhone. By diagnosing the problem, you can see what forms of data are eating up your storage space. Think of this as a roadmap of where to start removing files from.
Go to the Settings app, and from there click through to ‘Storage & iCloud Usage.’ Within this menu, go to Manage Storage. You should now be able to see, very clearly, a list of all of the apps on your phone – and just how much of that precious storage space they’re eating up.
If you then click through to a specific app, you’ll be shown two key pieces of information:
1. The amount of space used by the app
2. The amount of space used by the app’s documents and data
For example, if you were looking at the Music app – you would be able to see how much space the Music app itself takes up as an entity, as well as a figure for just how much space your actual music files are taking up.
You should be able to use the information in the Storage Usage section to guide you through your iPhone. Have a think about what you prioritise – if you’re using up a lot of space on music files, for example, could you back up the files you don’t listen to that often, and leave space only for the latest music or music you’re currently interested in?
If the app itself isn’t that big in terms of storage, but the files within it are taking up a lot of space, then it’s worth considering what videos, photos or music you look at or listen to regularly.
If you haven’t used them in the last two weeks, do they really have to be stored on your phone? Back up these files, and keep only the most recent files that you think you will get some use out of. It’s a small change that could clear up huge amounts of storage on your iPhone.
Alternatively, if you’re here because your phone is cripplingly slow after a damaging drop, well, unfortunately you could have busted your phone for good. If you’re an Apple user, you can pop into the Apple store to get it fixed, but it will set you back a few pounds. Don’t forget – all of our mobile phone insurance policies cover accidental damage!
Tip 2: Be brutal – Kill The Apps You Don’t Use
If you’ve removed as many files as you can bring yourself to, it’s time to check on the Apps that you barely use. Go back to the Manage Storage page under ‘Settings -> General -> Storage & iCloud Usage -> Storage -> Manage Storage.’
It’s much easier to scroll through the apps from this menu, rather than on the home screen – as on the home screen the apps are often spread out (depending on how well organised you are with your phone!) across multiple screens, or even in folders that are clunky to navigate through.
Make a list of the apps that you haven’t even realised are stored on your phone. Add to that list the apps that are only useful in specific circumstances – such as travel apps or hotel review apps, or apps for theme parks or specific locations.
You can download those apps again when you really need them. Even the apps that you have spent your hard earned cash on – that information is saved, and you can download those paid-for apps again at any time, without charge.
Now go to your home screen, and using your list, begin to delete the apps on your list of useless Apps. On the home screen, you can press and hold down on any app, and all the apps on the home screen will start to shake like a cartoon jelly, and little red crosses will appear beside apps. To delete apps, press the small cross.
Once you’ve finished deleting all the apps on your list, click the home button, and it should all stop shaking and go back to normal – but now with a load of free storage opened up to you.
Tip 3 – Use The Cloud For Photo and Video Storage
While photos and videos that you’ve snapped or captured may hold a lot of meaning for you, they tend to take up far more space than you realise. While you certainly shouldn’t delete these forever, you should back these up so that they are available to download at any time, rather than storing your entire photo and video history on your device.
You can use Google Photos, or iOS’s own iCloud to back up images and videos. Take a look inside of your Photo Library in the Photos & Camera app. If you have any more than 1 – 2 GB of photos here, you should definitely back up your files to somewhere other than your iPhone, and remove the files from your device.
Another great option for this is to use a DropBox account linked up to your iPhone – as this allows you to back up your files directly from your phone, rather than via connecting it to a laptop or desktop Mac.
Tip 4 – Back Up Your Music and Podcasts
As noted above, music and podcast files can also take up a huge amount of storage. A simple change, like setting your podcast app to delete episodes of a podcast once you’ve listened to them will quickly save you a lot of space. You should also go out of your way to delete old podcast episodes that you’re unlikely to listen to again.
You should also consider whether you need to store music files on your device at all. A streaming service for music – such as Spotify – will mean that you have no need to store music files at all. It’s incredibly safe saving, and you have access to thousands of songs – more than you’d ever be able to save on your iPhone’s storage.
Tip 5 – Clear The Cache
While this will only free up a very small amount of iPhone storage space, it’s a great way to quickly make up a little extra room – especially if you’re just looking for a tiny bit of space to download a file or update an app.
Clearing the browser caches on your phone is quick and easy. If you use Safari, go via the Settings menu: Settings -> Safari -> Clear History and Website Data. Simple!
However, if you’re using another non-proprietary web browsing app, you may have to go from within the app itself. It differs from app to app.
The most common alternative browsing app, Chrome, can easily have its cache cleared from inside of the app. Click on the three dots to open the internal menu, and tap History.
Chrome is kind enough to give you two options – can either edit your history (we won’t ask why,) or simply tap “Clear Browsing Data,” to get rid of it all. As you drill down it gives you further options, so you can be as specific or broad as is appropriate for your needs.
Tip 6 – Switch off Photo Stream
Photo Stream is a great tool that allows you to see photos from across your devices – and even allows you to keep an eye on shared streams that your friends and family can share with you.
While it’s a handy tool and certainly fun to play with, it can take up a great deal of space on your phone, as it’s constantly updating with new pictures, both from your Mac and other people’s devices. While they’re not high-res images, they can take up a lot of space by virtue of being an unknown quantity of photographs.
To turn off photo stream, go via the Settings menu to Photos & Camera, and make sure that ‘Upload to My Photo Stream’ is deselected or unchecked. Doing so will ensure that Photo Stream is removed entirely from your phone.
It’s also important that you unsubscribe from other people’s photo streams – you should be able to do this under the same Settings menu as above.
Tip 7 – Don’t Duplicate Low-Res Photos
The iPhone can take stunning photos in a range of different conditions – and really excels when using HDR mode. However, this mode works in addition to the normal photo mode – and your phone will hedge the bets for you and capture both a HDR photo and a normal photo when in HDR mode. In case the HDR photo doesn’t work out, your phone’s default setting is to keep both versions.
In most cases, you can trust that HDR mode will capture the higher quality image – so to easily free up a large amount of space, go through your photos and delete the ‘normal’ duplicate photos.
Going forward, ensure that your phone no longer saves both copies, by going to the Settings Menu, and tapping through to Photos & Camera options. Here, you should deselect ‘Keep Normal Photo.’
Tip 8 – Bye Bye Burst Mode
Burst mode is another default camera setting that comes with the majority of newer iPhones, that allows you to hold down the shutter and take a series of rapid shots. Undoubtedly a handy feature, it ensures that you capture all of the action and can choose from a selection of shots.
The issue with burst mode is that it’s very easy to activate by accident – and it’s impossible to switch off. As a handy work-around to ensure that you’re not capturing far more photos than you need, use the volume control buttons to capture photos, rather than the shutter button on screen. This gives you more control, and allows you to single tap, rather than hold down the on screen button for too long by accident.
This translates into taking less photographs – and thus your photographs will take up less storage on your phone going forward. You should also take some time to trawl through old photographs and delete accidental snaps that exist as a result of a trigger happy shutter press in burst mode.
Tip 9 – Customise Your Video Settings
The newer iPhones record stunning video in 4k, and this is an incredible tool to have in your back pocket. In the majority of cases, however, you won’t need to record all of your video at such a high resolution – especially when a mere minute of video at 4k resolution can take up over 300MBs of space on your phone.
You can more than half the amount of storage taken up by your video by decreasing the default resolution for recording video. To do so, go via the Settings menu to Photos & Camera, and then down to Video. Here, you should be able to reduce your video resolution down to 1080p HD resolution, or go even lower to 720p to really save space.
It’s worth it for capturing those ‘on the go’ moments that don’t require very high quality recordings.
Tip 10 – Analyse External Photo and Video Apps
The iPhone’s proprietary apps offer a huge amount when it comes to photo and video editing, but you may have purchased or downloaded external apps for the task of polishing up your photos and videos.
Each of these apps will have different workflows, but it’s likely that many could be duplicating images and snippets of files as you work. In most cases, you won’t need to keep anything but the final, edited video or image – so take the time to delete old photos and videos – whether they’re work in progress edits or originals duplicated by the external apps. This will free up more of your valuable memory.
Freeing up space on your iPhone isn’t difficult, but it may be frustrating to pick just what to get rid of. However, clearing up space by deleting things that aren’t important to you or by deleting apps and functions that you rarely use will leave more space for the things you do care about.
The steps to freeing up more space on your iPhone are:
1. Figuring out what exactly is eating up space on your iPhone.
2. Being honest about the apps that you don’t use – and deleting them.
3. Using the cloud and alternative storage for files you can’t bear to lose.
4. Backing up music and podcasts that you don’t really use – and deleting them from your device.
5. Clearing the cache on your iPhone’s web browser.
6. Switching off Photo Stream.
7. Switching off the ‘Keep Both Photos’ option in HDR mode.
8. Working around Burst Mode.
9. Customising your video settings.
10. Taking a moment to analyse your external photo and video editing apps.
With these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to a faster, cleaner iPhone. So you can start filling it up with more of the things you love.