Running out of space on your iPhone? Here are some tips you need to free up some GB


Whenever someone asks me to help them save space on their iPhone, I secretly cry inside. Because I know it is a task that requires time, patience and effort. And running out of space on an iPhone is easy if you don’t keep track. Frankly, even with a 128GB iPhone, I find I’ve already used half the storage space. And I’m someone who spends a lot of time doing monthly data cleaning on most of my devices. So here are some useful tips to recover storage space on your iPhone.

First, here’s how to see the remaining storage space

Go to Settings > General, then tap on iPhone storage.

It may take a few seconds, but iPhone will show a breakdown of how much storage is left on your iPhone. For example, on my device, it shows almost 66GB of data being used out of 128GB. You can also see the breakout, which shows how much storage each app takes up.

For example, on my iPhone, it’s mostly apps that take up a lot of storage space, followed by media files and iOS. The photos are not given so much that I use iCloud and back them up.

Here’s an overview of how to view your iPhone storage. Screenshot by Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express.

There’s also the “Recommendations” option before that says I should “Review downloaded videos”. Tapping on it will take me to downloaded videos and Apple recommends that I can save up to 1GB of space by moving some of them to the cloud.

Below, you can see the storage space occupied by each app. Podcasts, for example, took up 10GB of data in my case, Photos and WhatsApp are almost 5GB each, and Netflix takes up a whopping 1.29GB.

So how are you supposed to clean up all that space? Let’s start with a few key steps.

Clear your WhatsApp data, please

If you are in multiple groups on WhatsApp, from school to college to parenting to RWA, chances are you have a lot of unread messages and videos/photos taking up your phone space. Cleaning up your WhatsApp space is the most important thing for many iPhone users, especially in India, as we depend heavily on this app for our daily communications.

If WhatsApp is taking up a lot of data on your device, it’s time to clean up and delete old videos, and stream them. (Image: Screenshot by Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Go to settings and tap WhatsApp to see how much data it has taken up. And don’t be surprised if it’s in the double digits, especially if you’re in a lot of active groups.

Then go to WhatsApp > Settings > Storage & Data and Manage Storage. WhatsApp will show all the space it occupies. At the very top, you will see “Review and delete items”. This includes files larger than 5MB. Just delete most of them and they’ll probably be videos.

Then you can individually see each chat and the space it takes up on your phone. Tapping on each chat will show you all the items that you probably need to delete. Remember that it’s not just videos or photos that take up space, even a lot of PDF files end up doing the same. Now that you’ve deleted some of those videos, photos, and files, you should see some extra space on your device.

And if you want to backup all those photos before deleting them, you can do that too. Just make sure that in the chat backup you have enabled the “Include videos” option. To make sure transferred videos and photos don’t end up on your camera roll, just make sure “Save to Camera Roll” is disabled in WhatsApp settings.

Enable iCloud Backup

If you haven’t already, it’s best to buy some additional iCloud online storage and start backing up photos and videos to the cloud. The “Apple One” service provides access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and iCloud+ storage. The basic individual plan costs Rs 195 per month and will give 50 GB of cloud storage. The family plan costs Rs 365 per month and allows you to share storage with 5 other people and offers 200 GB of cloud storage.

Remember that you can backup all your iPhone photos, videos and data to iCloud. Just go to the Settings app and tap on the name you see at the top. This should open details about your Apple ID, subscriptions, etc.

Just tap on iCloud and you can see how much of your iCloud storage is currently occupied. Make sure to enable Photos and iCloud Backup for your device. This will ensure that all your old photos are backed up to the cloud and there is free space. Only optimized versions are saved on the device.

Apple iPhone Storage Get iCloud storage to back up your photos and videos and save device space. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

You can better manage this space by also going to iCloud on a desktop computer and seeing which photos etc. need to be deleted.

Downloaded videos, podcasts

If you’re an avid listener of podcasts or like to download content from Netflix or one of the streaming apps, you might find that they too are hogging up a few GB of storage space. The iPhone storage setting shows an option to “Review downloaded videos”. If you find that there are videos like this, you can simply delete them from the Settings app itself. Just tap edit and it will show you an option to delete the videos.

Also for Apple Podcasts app, you can delete all these downloaded apps directly from settings. Just tap the Podcasts app in storage settings and see how much space each episode takes up.

Tap Edit, then you’ll see a menu to delete some of these episodes. You can delete all episodes to make it easier and save space. I recently deleted 10 GB of episodes on my device.

Clear your Mail app

If you have logged into your Mail app on the iPhone, chances are that a number of unread emails are downloading to your device and taking up space. You can open the Mail app, tap Edit for Inbox, and delete those unwanted emails.

Be sure to wipe down the tray as well. You can also reduce the data retrieval frequency for email accounts by switching the Retrieval option to Manual. Go to the Settings app > Scroll down to Mail > Accounts > Fetch New Data. You can now set the push function for each account to automatic (i.e. push), manual or seek.

Offload apps you don’t use daily. It may not be much, but it can help save data. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Offload apps you don’t use

This is a useful way to clear storage without deleting app data. Just tap on any app in iPhone storage settings and you will see an option to offload the app. Apple will free up the storage used by the app, but the documents and data will be backed up. Upon reinstallation, the app will also restore your data. Or you can just delete all those extra apps that you downloaded and never used. That might not seem like much, but many iPhone apps range from 100MB and up. And if you’re not using them, then that’s all a fair amount of data.

Clear Safari Browser Data

Web browser apps like Safari and Chrome also tend to save lots of temporary data on your iPhone. It may not always be a lot, but even half a GB counts. Just go to Safari in the settings of the storage section of the iPhone. Tap Website Data and delete all website data. This will clear all temporary cache and again help save space.

Delete messages

If you haven’t cleaned up messages in forever, chances are they’re taking up a lot of space on your iPhone. You might receive lots of promotional messages, which go to the Promotions tab or transaction alerts. If you’ve never opened them, chances are you have three-digit messages. Wiping and deleting these can take time and effort, but it’s best to do it and reclaim space.


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