7 tricks to free up space on your iPhone

7 tricks to free up space on your iPhone

We could all use a little extra storage on our iOS devices, right? Here are a few easy ways to quickly reclaim some of your iPhone’s or iPad’s storage space — and some tricks for making sure it stays clear.

Stop storing texts forever

By default, your iPhone stores all of the text messages you send and receive… forever. This is convenient if you need to look up a 15-month-old conversation; not so convenient if you need that storage space back. To stop your phone from saving texts forever, open up the Settings app and tap Messages. Scroll down until you find Message History and tap Keep Messages. Change Forever to 30 Daysor 1 Year. A pop-up will ask you if you want to delete older messages; tap Delete to proceed.

Don’t double-save photos

If you use your iPhone’s HDR mode or Instagram a lot, you’ve probably noticed that your phone automatically saves two photos: the HDR version and the normal version (or, in the case of Instagram, the filtered, cropped Instagram version and the normal version).

To stop double-saving HDR photos, open the Settings app and go to Photos & Camera. Scroll down to the bottom and untick the toggle next to Keep Normal Photo.

To stop double-saving Instagram photos, open the Instagram app, tap your profile tab and then tap the Settings (gear) icon in the upper right corner. Under Settings, untick the toggle next to Save Original Photos.

Stop the Photo Stream madness

The photos in your Photo Stream take up space — though not as much as original photos, because they’re uploaded to your device at a “device-optimized resolution,” according to Apple. You probably don’t need these photos, since they’re probably just duplicates of photos that are already on your device.

To turn Photo Stream off, open the Settings app and go to Photos & Camera > My Photo Stream and turn My Photo Stream off. The photos in your Photo Stream will be deleted from your iPhone, but they will remain on any other devices (such as your iPad or computer) that you have Photo Stream turned on for. They’ll also remain on your iCloud account for 30 days from the date they were uploaded.

Clear your browser cache

If you use Safari often, your iPhone may be storing web history and data that you simply do not need. To clear Safari’s browser cache, open up the Settings app and tap Safari. Scroll down and click Clear History and Website Data.

If you use Chrome instead of Safari, open up the Chrome app and tap the menu icon in the upper right corner (three vertical dots). Tap History and at the bottom of the screen tapClear browsing data.

Purge offline data

You may be inadvertently saving offline data in apps that you probably use only while you’re online. Safari’s offline reading list, for example, can take up unnecessary space saving web pages for you to read when you have no internet connection. To clear Safari’s offline reading list, open up the Settings app and go to General > Storage & iCloud Usage. UnderStorage, tap Manage Storage > Safari. Swipe left over the words Offline Reading List and tap Delete to clear the cache. Doing this will not delete individual items from your reading list (to do that, open the Safari app, go to your Reading List and swipe left over items you want to delete).

Spotify also stores offline data if you choose to make playlists Available Offline. To de-authorize this data, open up the Spotify app and find the playlist that you want to make unavailable offline. At the top of the playlist, you’ll see a toggle next to Available Offline. Turn this toggle off.

Selectively delete apps and data

Most of these tricks will clear up a little extra space — but if you need a chunk of storage available stat, then you’ll need to start deleting some “real” stuff, like apps, photos, videos, podcasts and music. Before you start doing this, check out which apps are using the most space by opening the Settings app and going to General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Storage > Manage Data.

Here, you’ll see a list of apps sorted by the amount of space they take up. You can tap on an app to delete it directly from this menu, or you can use this list to figure out which apps are using up more data than they should be — for example, if Photos & Camera is near the top, you know you need to delete a few pictures; while if Music tops the list, you should probably delete a few songs or albums.

Force your iPhone to do it for you

Here’s a trick that will force your iPhone to clean up unnecessary files and grant you more space, courtesy of reddit user eavesdroppingyou. The trick is to try to rent a large movie — like “War and Peace,” which takes up a whopping 8.86GB of storage space — from the iTunes store. You don’t actually have to rent the movie (or pay), but if you just try to rent the movie, your iPhone will desperately try to make room by cleaning up unnecessary files (it won’t delete anything important). Here’s how to do it.

Make sure you have less than 8.86GB of free space on your iPhone (check this by going toSettings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage and looking at your Available storage space).

Open the iTunes app and search for the movie “War and Peace” (HD version). Tap Rent, and wait while the “busy” icon spins and tries to see if you have enough space to rent the movie. If you have just under 8.86GB — I had 7.9GB of available space — it will likely be able to free up enough space for you to rent the movie, so the next thing you’ll see is a prompt to enter your password or use your Touch ID (don’t do this unless you actually want to rent the movie). If you have significantly less space than 8.86GB, you’ll see a pop-up notification telling you that you do not have enough storage on your iPhone, with a link to go to the Settings menu.

Go to the Settings menu, and you’ll see that you’ve magically gained more available storage — I went from 7.9GB to 10.39GB. You can repeat this process (assuming you can find movies that are larger than your available storage) a couple of times to free up even more space.


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