Even though today’s iPhones come with massive storage (especially if you’re not hesitant to pay extra for that privilege), it’s quite easy to populate that with photos, videos, music, podcasts, and more. Apple is well-aware of that, which is why iOS comes with built-in tools to help you manage your phone storage. Here we guide you through six different ways to free up storage on your iPhone – all of which are pretty easy to do.
6 Ways to Free Up Storage On Your iPhone
- Offload rarely-used apps and games
- Switch image format to “High Efficiency” and disable Apple ProRAW
- Delete movies, TV shows, songs, podcasts, and other locally-stored media
- Clear Safari’s cache
- Store files and photos on iCloud instead
- Correct erroneous free storage reporting by creating a local backup and restoring your phone
1. “Offload” and Delete Rarely Used Apps
Chances are that your iPhone is running low on storage due to iOS apps – especially if you like to play games. With that said, our first recommendation on how to free up storage on your iPhone would be to “offload” and delete apps. Follow the instructions below:
1. Launch the Settings app. Scroll a bit down and select “General -> iPhone Storage” and wait a few moments until your phone calculates how much free space you have.
2. The first option gives iOS the control. If you’d like your iPhone to determine which apps should be removed, select “Offload Unused Apps.” That will preserve your documents, media, and personal data. It will only delete rarely used apps and only when you’re running low on storage.
3. The second options leaves you with the control. Select each app (already sorted by size) and tap on any app you decide you don’t need. This will reveal additional information and is where you’ll find the “Delete App” option, which removes all of its related data from your iPhone.
2. Reduce the File Size of Your Photos
During the last couple of years, iPhone’s camera grew in a big way. However, those additional megapixels now translate to massive file sizes. Here’s how to free up storage on an iPhone by optimizing your photos.
1. Launch the Settings app. Scroll down quite a bit and tap on “Camera.”
2. Once you tap on “Formats,” you’ll see a couple of options. We recommend going with “High Efficiency,” which will instruct the Camera app to use the HEIF/HEVC format. Your photos will look just as good as before, while being much smaller in their file size. In this case, you might also want to learn how to view HEIF/HEVC files in Windows.
3. If you have a iPhone that can shoot in “ProRAW,” you’ll see that option here as well. Know that “ProRAW” images are absolutely massive in size. Unless you’re a professional photographer who edits images, there’s no need to use this feature.
Lastly, you’ll also want to check our guide on how to delete duplicate burst photos on your iPhone. These can take plenty of storage, especially if you haven’t optimized how the Camera app works (as explained above).
3. Delete Locally Stored Media
If you download music and podcasts for offline listening or use a media streaming service to download movies and TV shows, know that those files eat up your storage quite easily. Here’s how to remove those files and regain some storage on your iPhone.
1. Navigate to the Settings app and go to “General -> iPhone Storage.”
2. Choose the app you use to handle offline data. For example, if you have plenty of locally stored music, open the “Music” app. Or perhaps you have a lot of podcasts saved in the “Podcasts” app. Media streaming apps – such as Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu – can also store offline files, which you’ll find here.
3. Once you pick each app, you’ll enter its detailed overview. That’s also where you’ll see any data stored for offline use, conveniently presented at the bottom of your screen. Delete that data by swiping across each file from the right edge of your screen.
4. Clear Safari’s History and Website Data
If you use Safari on a daily basis, you probably have many cookies and other files stored on your iPhone. Even though those aren’t massive in size, removing them will help you free up storage on your iPhone. Follow the instructions below:
1. Open the Settings app, scroll down and pick “Safari.”
2. Select “Clear History and Website Data.” That’s it!
5. Store Photos and Files in iCloud
Certainly, another way to clear room on your iPhone is to save your photos and files to the cloud. and if you’re using an iPhone, there’s no easier cloud service than iCloud. Follow the instructions in this iCloud tutorial to get iCloud set up.
The first items you’ll want to move into iCloud will probably be your photos and videos. They can take up a lot of space. Follow this tutorial to learn how to start storing your photos on iCloud.
iCloud Drive is a default app for iOS that will store your files. Once you begin using iCloud, your files will be saved there. You can change this in the iCloud settings as detailed below.
1. Go to Settings and tap on your profile at the top, then click on “iCloud.” You’ll see a graph showing how much storage you have on your phone as it applies to Backups, photos, others, and Family.
2. The first panel in the image above shows a family plan. Below that is a list of features and toggles to turn them off or additional menus for additional features. Note that if you turn them off, any files saved will be stored locally and will again be taking up space on your phone.
3. If you tap on “Manage Storage,” you will see the second panel above. Along with that graph, there is an option to see how much data the family is using and an option to change the storage plan. Below that is a list of apps used on that phone and how much iCloud storage they are using.
4. Tapping on an option will allow you to delete that saved data.
6. Create a Local (iTunes) Backup and Restore Your iPhone
In some cases, your iPhone may not present an accurate report on how much free space you have. A solution to that would be to back up and then restore your iPhone, locally. Don’t worry – you won’t lose any of your data. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Connect your iPhone to your computer’s USB port using a Lightning cable. If you use Windows, make sure to launch iTunes. And if you use macOS, launch Finder and select your iPhone using the left sidebar.
2. Look for the “Backups” section and tick the ‘Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac/Computer” option. This will make a backup on your computer’s hard drive rather than an iCloud backup.
3. Tick the checkbox that reads “Encrypt local backup.” An encrypted backup can include sensitive information like Health and Keychain data. If you don’t check this box, all that data will be deleted when you restore it from backup.
4. When you’re ready, click the “Back Up Now” button. Your iPhone will now begin the backup process. If you can, avoid using your iPhone for a while.
5. Once your iPhone is backed up to your computer, you will need to restore it. select the “Restore Backup” button. At this point, you may get a warning saying you’ll need to turn off “Find My iPhone” before the restore can be completed. If this is the case, you can turn this off on your iPhone under “Settings -> iCloud.”
6. By default, the most recent backup will be selected for restoration. If you want to choose a different backup file, use the drop-down list next to “Backup.”
7. Click the “Restore” button. Enter your password to unlock the encrypted backup, then click the “OK” button when prompted.
8. Your iPhone will go into restoration mode, displaying the message “Restoring from Backup.” You won’t be able to use your phone until the restoration is complete. Keep your phone connected to your computer until the phone has restarted and the restoration is done.
All Storage Will Eventually Fill Up
“How can I free up storage on my iPhone” is a frequent question among many users. Just know that there are no magical solutions. There is no bottomless storage on an iPhone. These methods will help you create more space. But eventually, your phone will fill up and there won’t be much you can do to change that save from buying a new phone.
Before you close this page, why not check how to compress videos on your iPhones – useful data to know if you record a lot of videos. And to learn more about iCloud storage, here’s our guide on how to manage your iCloud storage.
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