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How to Free up Space on Your iPhone and Android Phone

by on July 18, 2022
in Tips & How-Tos, Phones and Mobile :: 21 comments

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With all of the photos and videos we take, many of us run out of space. And, it usually happens at the worst possible time — baby's first steps, a celebrity sighting, hilarious pet antics. So, follow our simple steps to ensure you always have room for that next important shot.

1. Back up your phone to the cloud

If you don’t have the time or patience to sift through old photos and videos or if you want to keep all your media files, back them up to a cloud storage service and delete those you don't want locally on your phone. With cloud storage services, like Dropbox, you can choose to have your photos automatically backed up whenever you have access to WiFi, so you can have a full-resolution copy.

If you use an iPhone, the process is automatic if you've enabled the iCloud automatic backup service.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select "Apple ID."
  3. Select "iCloud." Toggle on all of the apps you want to backup to iCloud. If you want your photos and video backed up, select "Photos" and toggle on "iCloud Photos." However, once you turn on iCloud Photos, any action you take on your phone will be replicated in iCloud. So if you delete a photo or video, it will delete in your iCloud backup. If you want to delete photos on your phone, we recommend backing up your phone locally as outlined below.
  4. Select "iCloud Backup."
  5. Toggle on "iCloud Backup." If you already have iCloud backup on, you'll see the last time you backed up to iCloud. If you're short on iCloud storage, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud and select "Manage Storage." There you can select "Backups." If you have old phone backups you don't need, you can delete those to regain space. You should always leave one backup for your iPhone.

If you choose to back up your photos and videos to iCloud, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos and toggle on iCloud Photos. Then select Optimize iPhone Storage. This keeps a lower resolution version of your photos on your phone and full resolution in iCloud. If you're traveling and on a limited data plan, go to Settings > Photos > Cellular Data and toggle off "Cellular Data" to ensure you don't go over your data plan.

For Android, you can automatically back up your phone to Google One.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select "Google." If you're concerned about mobile data, scroll down and make sure "Back up using mobile or metered Wi-Fi data" is toggled off.
  3. Select "Backup." If you have backed up your phone before, you will see a list of what's backed up. If everything is backed up or if this is the first time you're backing up to Google, proceed to the next step. If you don't see everything being backed up, open the Google One app and select "Storage." Then select "View details." Now you can select "Manage backup" to select the data you want backed up.
  4. Select "Back up now." If this is your first backup, you will be able to select what you want backed up.

For Android and iPhone users, consider Google Photos (for iOS and Android) which can be set up to automatically backup photos and videos over WiFi. To keep full-resolution photos, make sure you select Original as the image quality. Go to Settings > Back up & Sync > Upload size > and select Original. Google Photos also has a Free Up Space feature that deletes photos you've already back up to the cloud. For iPhones, you'll need to also delete them from the Photos app (the Apple Photos app). To do that, go to the Photos app and select 'Recently Deleted" and delete them again.

2. Back up your phone locally

To avoid the cost and limitations of cloud storage, back up your files to your computer. Of course, the downside is that you can only do this when you have access to your computer through a wired or wireless connection.

If you own an iPhone and a Mac running MacOS 10.15 or later, you can use the Finder app to backup your iPhone. Open the Finder app and then select General > Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac. You can then choose the option to encrypt your backup data with a password by selecting "Encrypt local backup." (For earlier versions of MacOS, you can use iTunes. Follow Apple's instructions here.) If you're interested in backing up just your photos and videos to your computer, check out our step-by-step guide to how to download iPhone photos to a computer. You can also use AirDrop to transfer files without having to connect your phone to your computer via USB cable. If you use a Windows PC, you can use iTunes for Windows. Open iTunes, click on the Device button in the top menu bar, select "Summary," and then click on "Back Up Now."

If you use an Android device, connect your phone to your computer via a USB cable. Your Windows computer should detect your phone as a mass storage or media storage device, and you will be able to drag and drop your photos, videos, and other files from your phone to a folder on your PC. If you have a Mac, install the free Android File Transfer app on your Mac and then you can drag and drop files onto your Mac.

3. Delete photos, videos and other large files

While it's great to be able to see photos and videos in your messaging app, often you don't need to keep them long term. It's easy to find and delete these old files.

For iPhone, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Messages. There you in the "Photos," "Videos," "GIFs and Stickers," and "Other" folders, you can delete attachments you've sent or received. For other files, go to the Files app and select "On My iPhone." In the "On My iPhone" folder, you'll folders for all of the app that save files to the Files app. Look through the files in the folders for large files. You'll see the size of each file below the file name. Delete those files you don't need by pressing and holding the file name until the menu pops up and selecting "Delete."

For Android, open the My Files app (also called File Manager). You'll see a folder called 'Downloads." Open the folder and you'll find all of the files you've downloaded. Pressing and holding a file name will let you select files to delete.

4. Uninstall apps you don't use

While photos and videos are the usual storage hogs, apps (particularly games), can also consume storage space. It’s best to remove apps you don’t use often.

On the iPhone, go into Settings > General > iPhone Storage. You'll see a list of apps sorted by the amount of storage space used. When you select an app, you'll have the option of deleting it or offloading it. Offloading an app will remove the app but leave the data behind, in case you want to reload the app at a future date. You can also choose to automatically offload any apps you haven't used in a while. Go to Settings > App Store and toggle on "Offload Unused Apps."

On Android, go to Google Play Store > Profile icon > Manage apps & devices > Manage. Under each app name, you'll see the amount of storage it uses. To delete an app, tap the app name and then tap "Uninstall."

5. Shoot lower resolution videos

Many of today's higher-end phones can capture videos in up to 8K resolution. These high-resolution videos are clearer and have finer detail, especially if you view them on a 4K or 8K-capable TV or monitor. But, higher resolution video takes up a lot more storage space than HD videos. If you don’t need 8K or 4K videos, set your camera to capture images at a lower resolution in order to save storage space.

Updated on 7/18/2022 with instructions.

[Image credit: iPhone showing iPhone storage via Techlicious/Smartmockups]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.



Discussion loading

Other in iPhone Storage

From Kristi on April 25, 2019 :: 1:35 pm

How do I get rid of or cut down on the storage used by Other in my iPhone storage? This takes up the most space on my iPhone and I don’t know what it is. I have Googled this and have not been able to find a clear cut answer for what Other is or how to get rid of it.

Reply

Apple defines "Other" storage as

From Suzanne Kantra on April 25, 2019 :: 2:26 pm

Apple defines “Other” storage as system files, software updates, Siri voices, cached files, logs, and more. It’s everything that’s not Apps, Photos/Videos, Media (music, podcasts etc), Mail, Books, Messages and iCloud Drive content (files and other stuff you’ve downloaded).

How many GB of the total GB of storage are being used?

Reply

7.99 GB of 16 GB.

From Kristi on April 25, 2019 :: 3:21 pm

7.99 GB of 16 GB.

Reply

Free up other storage

From Jorge on April 12, 2020 :: 11:31 am

is it ok to reset other storage?

Freeing up space on my cell phone

From Frank T on April 25, 2019 :: 4:34 pm

My android smartphone backs up all my stuff to the cloud.  THis has been a boon when my phone has stopped working for one reason or other, as everything (and I do mean everything) gets downloaded to my new phone without loss.

There is a downside to this, however…

I go through my phone backing up videos and photos to my computer, after which I delete everything I just backed up.  A day later, everything I deleted has been restored from the cloud.  How do I prevent that?

Reply

Did you select Free up device storage?

From Josh Kirschner on April 30, 2019 :: 11:04 am

In your Settings for Google Photo on your Android phone, there is an option to “Free up device storage” that with remove any photos/videos that are already backed up (though you can still view them through your device). Have you tried that?

Reply

iPhone storage

From sagartrivedi on August 27, 2019 :: 1:27 am

Very informative and helpful article to clear your Cache files from iPhone. I followed your steps and it’s very workful. Every smartphone user must visit your site. I think I got all the information I was looking for.Thanks a lot for sharing.

Reply

NEED MY TEXTS

From jonny dakota on August 27, 2019 :: 5:05 am

my phone is brokenI need to receive my text messageson my laptop?how do I do this?

Reply

This blog contains such useful

From Riya Patel on October 17, 2019 :: 11:49 pm

This blog contains such useful information. I got all the information which I was looking for. Thanks for the wonderful information.

Reply

My phone's storage is 16GB

From Linda Nivas on November 03, 2020 :: 3:29 am

My phone’s storage is 16GB and I have used   15.64GB what should I do

Reply

Start with the steps above

From Josh Kirschner on November 04, 2020 :: 10:57 am

You’re getting pretty close to full. This article above has a number of steps to help you free up space on your phone. Give them a shot.

Reply

I actually have caught him with a bunch of screenshots

From arlenemortensen7@gmail.com on November 28, 2020 :: 3:48 am

I was on the phone with Apple trying to get help and he decided to get on my phone and start messing around… so he told me to screenshot anything that’s not right. Is there some place you can let me send them to you

Reply

How many people have more problems

From arlenemortensen7@gmail.com on November 28, 2020 :: 3:26 am

How many people are having more problems with their phones and now specifically with the memory in their phones and how much they are holding since the last update?
Also how old is your phone?? Do you know if it’s been hacked or not?

Reply

Can't Delete Apps

From Melissa Sutch on June 17, 2021 :: 12:36 pm

I have followed the steps above to delete apps however when I select app it DOES NOT give me the option to delete. I also cannot delete by long-tapping! So very frustrating!

Reply

Don't like

From Shawnanaya Bunch on September 30, 2021 :: 11:22 am

Moto g play has 32 gigs of memory and it uses 15 gigs to run the phone? This is criminal waste of space… I don’t even need half the crap it does

Reply

Question in photo storage

From Vesta Lingvyte on July 26, 2022 :: 10:25 am

Do you know if there are consumer Apps that allow you to not only store photos in the cloud, but also when you edit or delete the photo on your phone, it automatically updates the cloud storage. For example: all my photos are automatically synced with Google photos. However, if I delete a photo on my phone, it doesn’t get deleted on google photos. I do like working with recent photos on my phone. So I would love to find a service where you only have to do the work of deleting and even editing once. thanks

Reply

Amelia

From Amelia on August 03, 2022 :: 1:26 pm

I don’t have an iPhone, Please do write for us who are using Microsoft phones.  if not to write this type of article, just tell me what is the best app or how to space clean our Microsoft Nokia Lumia phone.

Reply

Time for a new device

From Josh Kirschner on August 03, 2022 :: 1:36 pm

You didn’t say what model you have, but Nokia branded phones exited the market nearly eight years ago and Microsoft stopped manufacture of Lumia in 2017 (with support ending in 2019). At this point, those older devices may have unpatched security issues and will have ongoing support issues, including apps that are no longer available or supported. Because of these limitations and concerns, I would strongly recommend switching to a newer Android device rather than trying to keep that old Lumia device in operation.

Reply

App that stops the storage of photos to mobile phone memory

From Fiona on September 07, 2022 :: 5:37 am

Advice please? Is there a mobile phone app available whereby the photos/videos you take do not get stored on the phone at all, but automatically get stored securely in the cloud?

Reply

Storage space

From Gary Zoller on September 28, 2022 :: 9:18 am

I have Google one and my phone is out of storage so I want to get them configured to use the same storage system. I have never had this problem before so help me out PLEASE!

Reply

Free space

From Daadir Cade on November 11, 2022 :: 4:14 am

Free space

Reply

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