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How to Free Up Space on iPhone

Want to download new apps on your iPhone, or trying to update the iOS version but can’t? Has the “Storage Almost Full” message become your constant nightmare? Then it is time to “Marie Kondo” your iPhone apps. Memory on your iPhone can quickly get gobbled up due to a number of reasons. But there are always ways to free up space on your iPhone and download that app you want to without having to delete others.

How to Check Your iPhone Usage

First things first. You should know how much free space you do have on your iPhone and the workings of used space. To check the total usage of your iPhone, go to Settings » General » iPhone Storage.

You will see the used storage space of your iPhone followed by a color-coded bar chart showing the usage distribution among various things like Apps, Photos, Messages, etc.

Scroll down a little and you will see a few recommendations from iPhone itself that might help free space on your iPhone.


Don’t be an App Hoarder

Scroll down on the iPhone Storage page and you will see all your Apps lined up in descending order of the storage space they are hogging. Now under all apps listing is a very interesting feature — Last Used. As the name suggests, it shows the last time you used an app. This little feature comes in very handy when you are on a mission to free up space. We are all guilty of hoarding apps, and it isn’t a problem when space is not an issue. But that isn’t the case now. So when you see an app that you haven’t used in a long time, it’s time to say goodbye. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent goodbye.

Offload or Delete unused apps

Tap on an app on the iPhone Storage settings screen and it will show you two options – Offload App & Delete App. The Offload App feature of the iPhone is a unique feature that lets you free up the storage used by an app while keeping all its documents and data. When you tap on an app, it will show you the App Size and the space taken up by the Documents & Data.

If an app has data that you would like to preserve, offload it instead of deleting it. So, next time you want to use it, just reinstall it and it will be like it was never even deleted from the system.

You can also automatically offload unused apps. Just go to Settings, scroll down a bit and tap iTunes & App Store. On scrolling down, you will find the option to Offload Unused Apps. Turn it on.

But if the data and documents of an app are not an issue, you can just delete it. Any app you purchased from the App Store can be downloaded again free of cost.

Delete Documents & Data of an App

There is also a third option where you have to neither offload, nor delete the app. A lot of the times, it’s not the app taking up space but rather what you store in it. And most of the time, that data is expendable. So a lot of apps, like Messages, and Podcasts will allow you to delete that data when you open them from the iPhone Storage app. Delete all unnecessary data to free up space by tapping the Edit button.


Backup Your Photos & Videos

Most of the time, the most space on your phone is taken by your photos and videos. Back them up using a cloud service to save space on your phone for other things.

To back up your photos using iCloud, go to Settings » Photos. Turn on the iCloud Photos option. There is also a great feature you can use when you use iCloud for photos — Optimise iPhone Storage. It automatically replaces the full-resolution photos and videos with optimized versions whenever your iPhone is low on storage. While the full-resolution versions of the optimized photos and videos are stored on iCloud so you can download them whenever you want.

If you don’t want to pay for iCloud, you could use a much better and free option — Google Photos — to store your photos and videos on the cloud. Take a back up of your photos in Google Photos app and delete the photos from your phone. But after you’ve deleted them, remember to delete the photos from the Recently Deleted folder as well, or your phone won’t have free space for another month, as iPhone keeps your photos in the recycle bin for 30 days in case you want to recover them.


Clear Your Messaging Apps

Messages themselves don’t take up a lot of space, but the photos, videos, GIFs that you send and receive do. Delete these to clean up space on your iPhone.

To delete these in the Messages App, go to Settings » General » iPhone Storage » Messages. There you will find all the documents like Top Conversations, Photos, Videos, GIFs and Stickers listed for you. You can delete them one by one manually, choosing to keep whatever you like. If your iPhone has conversations older than 1 year, it will also show you a recommendation to delete those to free up space.

You can also set up your iPhone to automatically delete conversations. Go to Settings » Messages, scroll down until you see Keep Messages option under the Message History label. You can choose to automatically delete your messages in 30 days, 1 year or keep them forever.

For those who use WhatsApp messenger a lot, the Documents & Data will show the usage, but there is no option to delete that data directly from Settings as you can do for Messages.

It shows how much data an app has but you cannot edit it.

Clean WhatsApp Storage Usage

To clean your WhatsApp storage usage, open WhatsApp on your iPhone, then go to its Settings and tap on the Data and Storage Usage option.

Then tap on Storage Usage option.

It will display all your conversations in descending order of data usage.

Tap on a conversation and all the data will be individually sorted into text messages, photos, videos and so on.

Tap Manage at the bottom and select the data you want to delete. Like if you want to keep the messages, but delete the photos, GIFs, videos, and other stuff in one go, you can delete them from here.


Let your iPhone’s Recommendations Guide You

When you open the iPhone Storage settings, you must have noticed some recommendations just below the bar chart. These are the recommendations your iPhone thinks will be helpful in trimming down your usage. The best part about these recommendations is that they are not some generic tips that are handed out to each user without any thought to their real significance to the user. They are personal. Curated just for you by the system. The recommendations that I am getting won’t be the same as the one you will get, and that’s the beauty of it. And these recommendations can help you free quite some space on your phone. Just follow the ones you want to and skip out on the ones you don’t.


Empty your Browser’s Cache

Clear your browser’s cache. It might not make a lot of space on your iPhone, but when you are desperate, every bit counts. To clear Safari’s cache, go to iPhone Settings » Safari. Scroll down and tap on Clear History and Website Data.

If you use Chrome on your iPhone, then open the Chrome app, tap the 3 dots on the bottom right corner of the screen. Then go to Chrome Settings » Privacy » Clear Browsing Data. It will give you an option to clear browsing history, cookies, cache. Delete it to free up some space.


Trick Your iPhone Into Cleaning Apps Cache

This method literally lets you trick your iPhone into cleaning the apps cache for you. But this method does not work when you have lots of storage space available on your phone.

When you are low on storage space, go to the iTunes store and search for a movie, but the trick is that the size of the movie should be bigger than the space available on your iPhone. You could try the “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” as it is pretty big in size. Try buying or renting it. Don’t worry, your account won’t be charged if you don’t go through with the transaction. iPhone will start cleaning your Apps cache to make space for the movie. And this cache can’t be cleaned manually. This trick cleaned more than 3 GB space on my phone. Pretty neat trick if you ask me!

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