iPhone Storage Full? 6 Easy Ways to Get it Back

Running out of memory on your iPhone? If you need the latest iOS update it may be time to try and free up more storage. Memory hungry apps are another reason you might be using up storage on your iPhone.

Follow these steps to free up additional space.

  1. Offload or delete apps that are seldom used
  2. Check each app’s storage to adjust how much it uses
  3. Review Messages and delete attachments, photos and GIFs
  4. Check files in Music and delete duplicate or unwanted songs
  5. Look at Photos settings to optimize storage and delete unwanted photos
  6. Use Safari browser settings to clear and delete cookies and data

Memory storage can’t be upgraded on iOS devices like iPhones and iPads. You’re stuck with the storage capacity built into your phone or tablet. Until you decide to upgrade like I did. Which gets expensive.

My recommendation is buy a device with as much memory as you can afford from the start.

Biggest iPhone Memory Hogs

  • iOS system software for the iPhone can take up to 6G of memory
  • Photos and videos in Photos and messages
  • Music files
  • Messages with attached photos, videos, GIFs
  • Games & video apps
  • Podcasts and apps

How iPhone Memory is Used

  • Start by going to Settings > General > iPhone Storage on your iPhone
  • You’ll see a diagram (below) showing how memory is allocated. Below that apps are listed in order of most to least memory used
  • iOS 11 or later will show recommendations for how to save space, offload apps or delete content

How to Free up Memory on your iPhone

1. Offload or Delete Apps

Start by offloading or deleting apps you don’t use need anymore or use rarely. Some video heavy or game apps may be your phones memory hog.

Offload App – to keep the icon on your screen but you won’t be able to use it

Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Scroll to App > Tap open > Tap Offload
Once you do this the app still shows on your screen but has a cloud download symbol next to its name. If you tap the app to open, you can use it again, but you’ll lose your storage savings.

Delete App – You can always download it again, but you’ll use any customizations or data

Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Scroll to App > Tap open > Tap Delete

2. Check your Apps Storage

Apps like Kindle, Whatsapp, or Overcast can hide additional data storage. As you tap on each app for review, look at how much the Documents & Data storage is. (see above)

If it’s huge then go into the app itself and start deleting old books, files or photos you no longer want as well as podcasts you’ve already listened to.

3. Messages

While you’re in iPhone Storage take a minute to look at your Messages app.

Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Messages > Review Large Attachments

Tap > Review attachments then Tap > Edit in the top right corner

Tap to the left of any image, video or GIF (circle) you want to delete. Once you’ve finished selecting, tap > Trash icon in the top right.

While still in the Messages panel, look below Recommendations and you’ll see a separate section titled Documents.

You can also review photos, videos, GIFs and other attachments under Documents. Follow the same procedure to delete.

Go to Settings > Messages > Message History

Change your setting to 30 days or 1 year to keep old messages from piling up. I have mine set to Forever because I prefer to go in and manually delete old messages.

Also check Low Quality Image Mode to save memory on images.

4. Music

Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Music > All Songs

Tap > EDIT then select and delete any songs you don’t want.

Keep in mind, once songs are deleted, they’re gone for good.

5. Photos

If you’re using iCloud to store photos from your phone make sure to have it set to Optimize iPhone Storage.

Settings > Photos> Optimize iPhone Storage

Uncheck Upload to My Photo Stream (under Settings > Photos) to stop photos from a camera or other device from automatically uploading.

Open the Photos app and delete duplicate photos or videos from your Photo library. if you have iCloud Photos checked, keep in mind any photos you delete from your photos will also delete in iCloud.

Before you delete photos from your library or iCloud, download any you’d like to keep to your desktop and save in a folder

Burst photos hold multiple images an soak up memory. Open the Bursts folder, tap on the image, select the one image you want to keep and then tap Done to keep that favorite.

6. Safari Browser

If you use Safari as your main browser on your phone, stored information can add to your memory deficit.

Go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

Tap on this to clear all cookies, search history and tracking from your Safari browser. It may mean you’ll have to sign in again on your favorite websites, but chances are you’re using an app not your browser.

Do the same for your offline reading list in Safari under Settings > Storage > Safari. Swipe Offline Reading List to delete.

One last tip. It’s always worth turning your phone off and on again to reset it!

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