Easy steps to free up storage space on your iPhone [tutorial]

Is your iPhone running low on storage space? Are you getting that annoying Storage almost full message? Now must be the right time to seriously consider clearing up some space. If you’re wondering where to start, this brief tutorial should help you do it.

Before we proceed let us remind you that you can contact us by using the link provided at the bottom of this page. When describing your issue, please be as detailed as possible so we can easily pinpoint a relevant solution. If you can, kindly include the exact error messages you are getting to give us an idea where to start. If you have already tried some troubleshooting steps before emailing us, make sure to mention them so we can skip them in our answers.

Check what’s filling up your iPhone’s storage

When it comes to iPhone storage, it’s important that you are aware what items are being stored. In most cases, photos and videos will most likely take the biggest bulk of stuff an average user keeps on iPhone storage. Since they can easily fill up storage in no time, it’s a no-brainer for you to check what is taking up precious storage space in your device.

Checking your iPhone storage device is easy. Whether you’re using an older iPhone model or not, the steps are generally the same. Here’s how:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap iPhone Storage.

Once you’re in iPhone Storage screen, you’ll see the remaining space you got at the top. You’ll also get a general breakdown of apps taking up space. Tapping on a particular app will give you a deeper view how that app uses storage.

When in the storage screen, you may also get recommendations on how to free up space or optimize storage of your device. With iOS 11, Apple allows users to manage Storage more easily with its storage management tools. Recommendations can vary on your storage situation but generally, they include stuff like Offloading Unused Apps, Reviewing Large Attachments and Conversations, Saving Messages to iCloud, and others. Tap Show All to see all the recommendations for your device then tap Enable to turn on a particular item.

How to free up space on your iPhone

Now that you’ve already get a picture of what stuff clogs your device’s storage, it’s high time to do something about it.

Step #1: Review photos and delete unimportant ones

If you’re fond of using Burst Mode when taking fast-action moments, you’ll most likely end up with a lot of redundant photos in storage. Burst Mode is great when trying to capture moments when the subject is moving a lot. The downside though is the fact that after using Burst mode a lot, you’re virtually storing more or less the same photos. Unless you immediately go over the photos and pick the ideal ones, your storage device will be filled up quickly than you realize. An ideal way to free up storage space is to wipe your Photo app but you can also go over your photos and invest some time weeding out unimportant ones. If you have thousands of photos to review, this job will most likely become tedious and very time consuming but it’s the most effective way to keep those irreplaceable moments alive.

If you want to automate this task, there are App Store apps that may help but generally, we advise against them as they’re really not that good in determining what photos are important to you.

Move non-system critical data to iTunes or iCloud

Even after clearing some unimportant photos, you’ll still probably retain several GBs of photos in your phone. If you really are serious in freeing up space in your iPhone, you should move these photos and videos to another device. The easiest way to do that is of course by using iTunes in your Mac or Windows PC but you can also makes use of iCloud.

How to transfer photos to iTunes and not sync your device to it

Since your intention in moving photos to iTunes is to clear up space in your iPhone, it’s good if you sync your photos manually to it. By default, iTunes is set to sync automatically with any connected device. This means that iTunes will get an exact match of photos and videos from your phone. This can be problematic if you delete your photos from your phone by accident as this would also result in iTunes deleting the copy when you sync your iPhone to it. We suggest that you manually sync your photos instead. To move the photos from your iPhone to iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. In your computer, make sure that you have the latest iTunes running.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  3. Click on the device icon (iPhone) in iTunes.
  4. In the sidebar on the left side of the iTunes window, click Photos.
  5. Tick on the box beside Sync Photos. If you’re seeing iCloud Photos is On instead of Sync Photos, that means that your files are already moved to your iCloud Photo Library and there’s no need to sync them through iTunes.
  6. Choose the app or folder that you want to sync from.
  7. If you choose to sync a folder with sub-folders, the first level of sub-folders will appear as albums on your device.
  8. Choose to sync all photos and albums or selected albums.
  9. Select Include videos to sync the videos from your app or folder too.
  10. Click Apply.

How to turn off iTunes syncing

iTunes allow you to turn off syncing for your photos, videos, and albums. You can specify what album to sync or not.

To turn off sync in select albums, open iTunes, select your device, click Photos, pick the Selected albums and specify the albums you don’t want to sync. Hit Apply to confirm the change.

If you want iTunes to stop syncing all your photos, open iTunes, select your device, click Photos, deselect Sync Photos, click Remove photos, and hit Apply.

Alternatively, you can use other cloud services from companies like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft to store them. Once you’ve copied your photos to the cloud, you can then begin to delete them from your iPhone.

Step #2: Purge Recently Deleted folder

All the photos and videos you’ve deleted during Step 1 remain in your phone for 30 days to giv you enough time to recover them should you change your mind. These deleted files remain in your Photos app Recently Deleted folder and they continue to take precious space in your iPhone. We assume that you know what you’re doing at this time so make sure that you clear Recently Deleted folder. Here’s how:

  1. Open Photos app.
  2. Tap Recently Deleted.
  3. Tap Select and select all the photos you want to clear.
  4. Tap Delete.
  5. Confirm that you want to delete the photos

Step #3: Turn off duplicate photos when using HDR while shooting

Not many iPhone owners know this but High Dynamic Range or HDR feature of your camera saves a copy of the same photo by default. This means that your camera app creates two copies — the original photo and the processed one. To prevent accumulating HDR-processed photos, make sure to turn off HDR duplicate photo feature by following these steps:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Camera.
  3. Enable Keep Normal Photo.

Step #4: Delete browser cache regularly

If you use your phone’s web browser a lot, chances are it’s keeping a huge cache at this time. While this is how web browsers are designed to improve browsing performance, too much of a cache can use up space. To keep your browser cache manageable, make sure to delete it once every few months. Exact steps on how to clear a browser cache depends on the app you’re using. If you’re using Apple’s Safari browser only, follow the steps below. If you’re using a third party browser, use Google to find the steps.

How to clear Safari cache:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Look for Safari and tap it.
  3. Choose Clear History and Website Data.

Step #5: Erase documents and data

Like browsers, each app stores its own cache or temporary files to improve performance. As time goes by though, the total documents and data stored by individual apps can grow so large so as to take significant amount of storage space. To free up space, you must get rid of these temporary files. Don’t worry, your apps will simply rebuild their cache as you use them.

Here’s how you delete documents and data a particular app:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap your profile picture.
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. Tap Manage Storage.
  5. Choose the app whose data you want to remove.
  6. Tap Delete Documents & Data.
  7. Tap Delete to confirm.

Step #6: Delete old messages in your inbox

Your Messages app is set to keep your messages for eternity by default so if you text or use MMS a lot, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll find out that you inbox is literally holding GBs worth of messages. While this feature is obviously helpful if you intend to keep copies of memorable conversations, it also clearly comes at a cost. We suggest that you delete some unimportant conversations and those that contain a lot of sent and received MMS or attachments.

To change how long Messages keep your texts, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Scroll down to Message History and tap Keep Messages.
  4. Change Forever to something shorter like 30 days or 1 year.

If you’ll get a prompt whether to delete older messages, tap Delete to proceed.

Step #7: Delete downloaded songs

Like photos and videos, downloaded music items can consume a big chunk of your iPhone’s storage. We suggest that you visit Music app and delete songs you no longer listen to by swiping from right to left. If you want to delete all your music, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap iPhone Storage.
  4. Find the Music app, then tap it.
  5. Under Documents & Data, swipe left on All Songs.
  6. Tap Delete.

Step #8: Get rid of old voicemails

If you receive many calls day in and day out, chances are your voicemail may be flooding your storage. Keep in mind that voicemail files can take a lot of space just like videos do so getting rid of them can be a good strategy in giving you that much needed storage space. Like when deleting photos, deleted voicemails goes to a holding folder for some time (Trash) so they’ll still take space after you’ve cleared them from your inbox. To clear them permanently, follow these steps:

  1. Open Phone app.
  2. Choose Voicemail in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap Edit and choose all voicemails you want to delete.
  4. Tap Delete.
  5. Go to the Deleted Messages folder and tap Clear All.


Engage with us

If you happen to have a problem with your own iPhone, let us know about it and we will do our best to post them and their solutions  in our upcoming articles. You can use this link to contact us for assistance. We can’t guarantee an answer to every question but rest assured that we will exhaust everything on our end to help you.

Be as detailed as possible when describing your problem to help us diagnose your issue easily. If you can include error messages, popups, attempted troubleshooting steps, and circumstances leading to the problem, that would be very helpful.