How to . . . Free up space on your iPhone

Got the dreaded ‘storage almost full’ warning? These tips will help clean up your iPhone

iPhone 6: getting rid of apps, photos and old message can help – while deleting music is a last resort. Photograph: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

iPhone 6: getting rid of apps, photos and old message can help – while deleting music is a last resort. Photograph: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg


We’ve all been there. Your iPhone flashes up a warning: “Storage almost full.” Ignore it at your peril. You’ll soon find that your camera refuses to take photographs because you don’t have enough space to store the images. Your apps will stop updating, and you won’t be able to download iOS updates without making a bit of space. It’s an easy problem to solve though.

See what is taking up all your space

There’s no point in starting to delete things until you know exactly what

is hogging all your space. Hooking your phone up to iTunes will show you a general view of the main culprits, but iOS itself will give you a better idea about what apps are responsible. Settings>General>Storage and iCloud Usage will show you how much space is left on your phone, but if you select manage Storage, you will get an app by app breakdown.

For most people, photos and videos will top that list – my own phone shows it take sup 14GB of space, followed in second place by the Podcasts app at just under 10GB.

Delete apps

This should be the first to try. That face morph app you downloaded for a laugh, used once and haven’t touched in five years? Get rid of it. There are plenty of apps – usually free ones – hanging around our screens that we don’t need or use enough to justify keeping. They may not take up much space individually but it all adds up. A good spring clean of your apps will also make it easier to find the ones you do want to use. To delete an app in iOS, hold down your finger on the home screen until the apps start to shake and the cross appears in the corner of each downloaded app. To delete, tap the cross. When you have

finished, press the home button to exit the edit mode.

Games are a big hog of space. Be brutal: if you don’t play it, ditch it. You can always redownload it if you change your mind.

Clean out app caches

Those apps that you use a lot can become bloated over time. Picking up bits of data here and there can make them sluggish and swell them to gargantuan proportions, taking up precious space on your device. You don’t necessarily need all the information that they’re storing, so the best thing to do is to get rid of it.

Some apps, such as the Podcast app or newspapers, allow you to delete individual episodes or publications. Clearing out unwanted items will free up a good bit of space on your phone.

But most apps will force you to delete the entire app to clear the data. It’s not the most extreme measure, although it is a bit of a pain to have to redownload them.

Clear your Safari cache

Safari stores data from different websites for a number of reasons, but the most useful one is that it helps websites you use time and again to load more quickly. It also keeps your web browsing history, including cookies, which is something you might want to clear every now and again for privacy reasons.

To stop Safari storing data on your online activity, you can turn the browser to private mode, That doesn’t make you invisible to everyone on the web, but it will stop your device from keeping tabs on your every move. You can either do it in one fell swoop, wiping all your browsing data, or do it site by site. To wipe everything, go to Settings>Safari and tap Clear History and data. You can delete individual website data from Settings>Safari>Advanced, allowing you to keep the sites that you use often.

Prune your photos and videos

If you’re the snap-happy type, there’s a good chance that your phone is cluttered with plenty of shots you don’t need. Burst shots and videos will take up more space, so start with those and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you free up some space.

Go into the photos app and choose the album you want to slim down. Tap Select in the corner, tap on the items you want to get rid of, and press the bin on the bottom right corner.

If you aren’t bothered about having your images on all your devices, you can turn off iCloud Photo Library and Photo Stream, freeing up a little bit of space. The down side? You sacrifice the backup feature.

But if you have iCloud Photo Library switched on, you can choose to optimise phone storage, which replaces full-resolution photos and videos with optimised versions, storing the full-res version in the cloud. To turn it on, go to Settings>Photos & Camera> Optimise Phone storage.

Get rid of old messages

. If you have iOS 9, your iMessages are set to be stored permanently by default. You can set your messages to delete after a year or after a month, depending on what you prefer. To set the time limit, go to Settings>messages>Keeps Messages and choose 30 days or a year.

If all that fails, you may have to cut back on your music collection stored on your phone, although no one wants to resort to such extreme measures.