How to delete Documents and Data on your iPhone

We’ve all been there. One seemingly normal day, you’re trying to download a new app on your iPhone when you get hit with the dreaded “iPhone Storage Full” notification. So you feverishly go through your phone looking for things to delete. Text conversations from two years ago. Games you downloaded that time you were watching your nephews.

Let me go ahead and answer the question you’re about to ask: Yes, there is other, less useful stuff you can delete to free up space. It’s app data, a.k.a. Documents and Data stored on your iPhone.

What’s included in Documents and Data on iPhone?

“Documents and Data” sounds a little more serious than what it actually is. In most cases, that is just app-specific settings, login details, preferences, cached files, and things like that. These files are not anything you’ve created or saved, but the files that the app uses and accumulates over time.

For apps that use cloud storage, such as iCloud or Google Drive, app data is often local or offline versions of the file. So if you were to delete that app data, theoretically it could cause some inconvenience, but you’d still have the files in the cloud. 

For the Photos app, Documents and Data are actually your photos, screenshots, and everything else sitting in your Camera Roll.

While the Documents and Data of the Photos app are your pics, you can clear some of those without losing anything worthy. Gemini Photos will scan your iPhone for clutter like similar pics and help you trash it in a few taps.

Download on the App Store

How to check how much Documents and Data an app has

To see which apps have the most Documents and Data, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage
  2. Scroll down to the list of apps
  3. Tap on the top option (in my case it’s Photos)
Screenshots: How to check Documents and Data on iPhone

Here you’ll see how much Documents and Data this particular app has. Go through the 10-15 “heaviest” apps, compare the numbers, and pick your candidates for the app data purge.

Why do some apps have so much Documents and Data?

Some apps take up more space with their Documents and Data than others, depending on what type of files they’re using. Apps like the TV app or Netflix might use more space because they’re saving offline versions of videos, while apps like Facebook or Instagram are caching lots and lots of photos to make sure they load quickly.

How to delete Documents and Data on iPhone

It’s important to note that not every app will give you a straightforward way to clear its Documents and Data. The workaround is to delete and reinstall the entire app, but you should exercise caution here. You might get logged out of your accounts, since login information and passwords get cleared, so double check to make sure you have all your login info elsewhere.

Fortunately, some apps do allow you to delete their documents and data in the settings. Let’s go over how you can delete that info and which apps allow for it, using Safari and WhatsApp as examples.

How to delete Documents and Data in WhatsApp

Apps like WhatsApp handle their data a little differently. The app data in WhatsApp includes entire text conversations, not just large attachments, so you might want to pick and choose what to clear out:

  1. Open WhatsApp
  2. Go to Settings > Data and Storage Usage > Storage Usage
  3. Tap on the conversation
  4. Tap Manage
  5. Select the types of files you want to delete
  6. Tap Clear
Screenshots: How to delete Documents and Data in WhatsApp

Repeat for your most active chats. If you often send videos and other space-consuming media, you can free up quite a lot of storage by deleting it.

How to delete Documents and Data in Safari on iPhone

Apps like Safari keep website data and browser history in their Documents and Data. To clear out those files, do the following:

  1. Go to Settings > Safari
  2. Tap Clear History and Website Data
  3. Tap Clear History and Data

Now that we’ve gone through a couple different ways of how to clear app data on iPhone, you should be able to recover some space. Try them out!

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