How to free up iPhone storage
With high-def photos, advanced apps, and console-quality games, your iPhone's memory is full in no time. Even users with massive 64 GB models can find things get out of hands fast. And if you’re using an 8 GB or 16 GB iPhone, chances are you’ll see that pesky “Storage Almost Full” message much sooner.
Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to make room on iPhone, both manual and automated, so let's take a look.
What you'll need:
- Your iPhone
- Gemini Photos, an iPhone app by MacPaw
- Your Mac
- CleanMyMac X, a Mac app by MacPaw
- Internet connection
How to check what’s taking up iPhone storage
Your iPhone may be full of things you don’t really need. Since they take a lot of valuable space, it’s important to find out what actually eats up your storage.
To check what takes up storage on iPhone, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. At the top, you’ll see how much space you’ve used and how much you have available. Below there is a list of your apps sorted by how much space they take. You can tap each app to get more information about how it uses storage.
How to clear iPhone memory
Here are a few easy ways to save your iPhone from running out of storage without deleting the stuff you actually need.
Delete redundant photos
If you’ve checked iPhone storage like we suggested above, you already know who the main space hogger is (looking at you, Photos). Of course, wiping your whole photo library clean is not an option, but there are probably photos you can get rid of:
- similar shots (like the five selfies you took so you can pick a good one)
- photos of whiteboards, notes, checks, and things like that
- screenshots you don’t need anymore
You can go through your library and weed out these photos manually, but a quicker and more convenient alternative is an iPhone app like Gemini Photos. Here’s how to free up some space with it:
- Download Gemini Photos and launch it. It will automatically start scanning your library.
- Go to Clutter. This is where you’ll see screenshots, photos of text, and other useless stuff. All photos will be pre-selected, but you can deselect the ones you still need.
- Tap Delete
- Go to Similar. Sets of similar photos will be grouped and pre-selected, with the best photo in each set remaining.
- Review a set, select other photos if you want to, and tap Delete to remove selected
Review each set of similar pics like that and soon enough your library will shrink by a few gigabytes and become way easier to navigate.
Transfer your photos and videos
Even after you’ve trimmed some fat off your library, chances are Photos still hogs a lot of iPhone space. What to do? Transfer your photos and videos to your computer. If you have a Mac the easiest way is to connect your iPhone and sync all media files to the Mac. Then you can delete the original ones from your phone.
Alternatively, you can upload them to an online storage service like iCloud. It’s very convenient as iCloud Photo Library automatically keeps every photo and video you take in the cloud, so you can access your library from any device, anytime you want.
Here’s how to upload photos to iCloud:
- Sign in to your iCloud.com account. If you don’t have one, create it.
- Go to Settings on your device and select Photos
- Turn on iCloud Photo Library
Now when you make edits on your iPhone or your Mac, the photo will update automatically across all of your devices.
Note that when you sync photos with your Phone, some of them stay cached on your Mac. This data only wastes space on your disk after the sync is done, so it’s better to clean it up. A utility like CleanMyMac X is an easy way to clear iOS photo cache (and it’s free to download). In just two clicks you’ll remove all the junk files from your Mac.
Please note that by default you have 5 GB of free iCloud storage. To get helpful tips on how to manage it, check out our guide How to clear iCloud drive.
Clear the Recently Deleted folder
All the photos you deleted in steps 1 and 2 went to the Recently Deleted folder in Photos. This folder stores them for 30 days in case you change your mind, and as long as photos stay there they occupy space on your iPhone. Since your goal is to get more storage, don’t forget to empty Recently Deleted.
Here’s how to free space on iPhone by removing recently deleted photos:
- Open the Photos app and tap Recently Deleted
- Tap Select and choose all photos you want to delete by tapping each one
- Then tap Delete
- Confirm that you want to delete the photos
Selected photos will be removed from your iPhone.
Disable saving duplicate photos when shooting in HDR
When you take photos in HDR, your iPhone saves two shots: the original picture and the processed one. You will free up a lot of iPhone storage if you disable saving duplicates. Just do the following:
- Go to Settings and select Camera
- Enable Keep Normal Photo
From now, only the HDR versions of your photos will be saved.
Clear your browser cache
If you often use your iPhone to browse the web in Safari or Chrome, keep in mind that your phone may be storing caches and other data that you don’t need. And you’d be be surprised how much space you can free up just by clearing your browser cache.
Here’s how to clear Safari cache:
- Go to Settings
- Find Safari
- Choose Clear History and Website Data
If you use Chrome follow these steps:
- Open Google Chrome on your iPhone
- Tap Options > Settings
- Scroll down and tap Privacy
- Tap Clear Browsing Data
- Choose which browsing data you want to clear (browsing history, cookies, cached images and files) and tap Clear Browsing Data
Stop storing messages forever
By default, your iPhone stores all the messages you send and receive … forever. This is convenient if you want to read your 2-years-old conversations, not so convenient when your iPhone storage starts filling up.
To stop your phone from saving messages forever, follow these steps:
- Go to Settings and tap Messages
- Scroll down to Message History and tap Keep Messages
- Change Forever to 30 days or 1 year
You’ll see a pop-up message asking if you want to delete older messages, tap Delete to proceed.
Delete downloaded music
You probably have many songs on your iPhone you don’t listen to, which is why you should clear your playlists and albums a bit. Open the Music app, go to the list you want, and swipe from right to left. Tap Delete and the song will be removed.
If you want to delete all of your music, do the following:
- Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage
- Find the Music app, then tap it
- Under Documents & Data, swipe left on All Songs
- Tap Delete
All the songs will be removed from your phone, so you’ll have more space available.
Clear all voicemail messages
Like music, your voicemail may take up a lot of storage, especially if you're a busy person who gets tons of calls every day. You may think that when you delete a voice message, it’s gone from your iPhone forever and you recover some space. However, much like with photos, it doesn’t work that way with voicemail.
Messages that you “delete” are not erased; instead, they are marked to be deleted later and moved out of your inbox. They still exist until you empty the Trash. To delete them for good and get more space on iPhone, follow these steps:
- Tap the Phone icon
- Choose Voicemail in the bottom right corner
- Tap Edit and choose all voicemails you want to delete
- Tap Delete
- Go to the Deleted Messages folder and tap Clear All
That’s it. All your voicemail messages are permanently deleted from your iPhone.
Oh, and if you're a visual type, here's a short video that shows all the steps we outlined above.
In iOS 11, Apple brings storage management tools to your device. This means that you get unique storage saving suggestions based on your iPhone. They include things like Reviewing Large Attachments and Conversations, Offloading Unused Apps, Saving Messages to iCloud, and others. Therefore, if you’re running iOS 11, go to iPhone Storage and check out the recommendations.
We hope you found our troubleshooting guide helpful in tackling that annoying “Storage Almost Full” message. Enjoy taking new photos and never worry about lack of iPhone storage again. Cheers!