How to Manage And Maximize Your iCloud Storage

Apple announced and released the iCloud storage, and users of Apple mobile devices signed onto it as soon as possible. Everyone knew what it would do, that it would store documents, data, and backups in “the cloud,” but at that time many didn’t stop to think of what the limitations of this storage would be. Now after you’ve had your documents in the Cloud for awhile, it can be getting quite full, especially if you have several apps.

The good news is that there is a way to control the storage in iCloud through the Settings app. Through this, you can manage your storage to prevent it from getting too full and to where you won’t be able to store some of your necessary documents or backups.


Open the Settings app in iOS, either on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, then click on iCloud. This shows the account for your iCloud service, as well as all the native iOS apps on your device that can also benefit from iCloud. You can control which ones you want in the iCloud service at this point. There may be some that were storing data in your iCloud account that you weren’t even aware of.


Clicking on “Storage & Backup” takes you to a screen showing the total storage you’re allowed (Apple gives you 5.0 GB for free), and how much you have available. From here, you can control if you want iCloud to make and store backups of your device and can also institute a backup at that point if you’d like.


A click on “Manage Storage” takes you to a page that shows all of the backups and storage you have on all your devices. This shows that I have 1.6 GB on my iPad, 1.2 GB on my iPhone, and 15.9 MB on my daughter’s iPod Touch. That stands to reason, though, as she’s only storing photos on hers, not documents. It also shows the apps that are storing your documents and data. In my case, I realized I had a few writing apps that I tried but was no longer using, and these were taking up space in iCloud.


Clicking on these individual apps shows even more of a breakdown. Some apps just show the total amount that you have stored on them, but others have it broken down into what documents you have saved and how much storage they are taking up. Swiping over individual documents will let you delete them one by one, or you can click the Edit button in the upper right, and either delete the items one by one this way, or click “Delete All” at the bottom.


If you go back one screen and click on the name of your device, it will show you when your last backup was, the size of the backup, and all of the individual apps that are included in the backup. You can turn these on and off at this point. It was quite surprising to me how many apps I had going into my backup. Many of them were completely unnecessary.

Mobile devices can fill up pretty quickly, and that’s why storing items in iCloud is such an attractive idea. Yet, this has its limits too. By keeping a watchful eye over the whole process with the Settings app, it should allow you to save and store everything you want, and to have ample backups of just the data that you need.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.