19 tips to make space on iPhone | How to clear space on iPhone

Clearing space - deleting old messages and photos, uninstalling apps - is an all-too-common pastime for iPhone owners, particularly those with 16GB of storage space or even less. But there are times when even 128GB isn't enough. Follow these 19 tips to clear space on an iPhone, and make the most of your iPhone's storage capacity

by


  • Make space 1
  • Delete apps 2
  • Hard-to-delete apps 3
  • Space-hogging apps 4
  • Delete data 5
  • Batch-delete messages 6
  • Photo Stream 7
  • Don't share 8
  • HDR duplicates 9
  • iTunes Match 10
  • Delete books 11
  • Photo apps 12
  • Notes 13
  • Delete iMessages 14
  • Delete photos 15
  • Burst Mode 16
  • Photo Stream 17
  • Dropbox 18
  • Space to snap 19
  • iMyFone Umate 20
  • More stories
Next Prev

Tip 1 of 20: How to clear space on your iPhone

We love our iPhone, but one of the challenges we encounter every day is making the most of its meagre 16GB of storage space. The fact that we manage this feat is all the more astonishing given that we had 64GB of space on our old iPhone.

In this article we share our top tips for managing the space available on your iPhone and for getting the most out of every last MB of storage space.

In the meantime, if you want to update to a new version of iOS but didn't have enough space, do not fear! YOU DON'T HAVE TO DELETE ANYTHING! Find out how: How to update to iOS 9 without deleting anything. That article also explains how to upgrade to the upcoming iOS 10.

Plus: Don't miss our top iOS 9 tips article, and we've also got some advanced iOS 9 tips that even the experts might not know yet. And if you're struggling with battery life on your iPhone, read our top tips for getting more battery life from your iPhone.

Finally, you can also make more space by using a wireless storage device with your iPhone - read more about the best Wi-Fi storage drives for iPhones and iPads.

Next Tip »

Next Prev slideshow image

We love our iPhone, but one of the challenges we encounter every day is making the most of its meagre 16GB of storage space. The fact that we manage this feat is all the more astonishing given that we had 64GB of space on our old iPhone.

In this article we share our top tips for managing the space available on your iPhone and for getting the most out of every last MB of storage space.

In the meantime, if you want to update to a new version of iOS but didn't have enough space, do not fear! YOU DON'T HAVE TO DELETE ANYTHING! Find out how: How to update to iOS 9 without deleting anything. That article also explains how to upgrade to the upcoming iOS 10.

Plus: Don't miss our top iOS 9 tips article, and we've also got some advanced iOS 9 tips that even the experts might not know yet. And if you're struggling with battery life on your iPhone, read our top tips for getting more battery life from your iPhone.

Finally, you can also make more space by using a wireless storage device with your iPhone - read more about the best Wi-Fi storage drives for iPhones and iPads.

 

Step 2 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Delete apps you don't need

This is an obvious and (mostly) straightforward place to start. There are bound to be apps you downloaded and only used once, or have replaced with something better. Ditch them. The benefit of deleting a few apps is that you could free up as much as 500MB with very little effort.

To delete an app from the Home screen, tap and hold on its icon and wait for it (and the other icons too) to start jiggling about - this means you're in Edit Mode. Then tap on the X in the left corner to delete the app. (Edit Mode also allows you to drag app icons into new positions on the screen.)

Read more: How to delete any app from iPhone or iPad

 

Step 3 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Stocks, Game Center and other hard-to-delete apps

There are some apps that aren't so easy to delete because Apple ships the phone with them pre-installed - this includes Stocks, Game Center, Notes, Calendar and various more default apps. In the past, Apple has prevented iPhone and iPad owners from deleting these apps from their devices.

The good news is that iOS 10, which was unveiled at WWDC 2016 and will have its official public launch some time in autumn 2016, will let you delete preinstalled apps - sort of. Technically you'll only be deleting the user data associated with the app (and hiding the app icon), rather than deleting the entire app, which means the space savings you'll make are likely to be small. And not all apps are included in this feature. Stocks, Tips, Maps, Watch and Weather can be removed, for example; Safari, Phone and Messages cannot.

If you're very keen to try out this new capability, it's possible to download and install iOS 10 ahead of the full launch (although you'll need a developer account). If you'd rather not do this, there are some techniques and workaround that will allow you to remove or hide Apple's preinstalled apps in iOS 9 and earlier. Some of them involve jailbreaking.

For more on all this, read our complete guide: How to delete, remove or hide any iPhone or iPad app in iOS 9 and iOS 10.

 

Step 4 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Find out which apps are taking up most space

A handy way of finding and deleting the apps that are taking up the most space is to go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage, then tap Manage Storage in the first section (STORAGE, rather than ICLOUD). Wait for the apps to appear under storage (it can take a minute or so for them to appear).

Your apps will be presented in order of how much space they take up. Anything near the top of the list that you don't use regularly should be a high priority for deletion.

Scroll through the list and be brutal. You will find the biggest space wasters at the top - probably your Photos and Music apps (the figure includes media that the app stores/organises as well as the app itself), but your Messages app may be there too if you receive a lot of text messages with images in them. 

If an app you rarely use is taking up 300MB of space then delete it - you can always download it again for free if you want to. Once you have bought something it's tied to your Apple ID so Apple knows you own it.

 

Step 5 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Delete Documents & Data you don't need from apps

To look deeper into the storage space being taken up by apps, look again at Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage and click on the arrow beside one of the apps listed there. This way you can see how much data is used by the app itself, and how much additional space is being used by documents & data.

For example, our Pages app has 4.9MB of data; with a little tidying up we could ensure that those documents saved on the iPhone were moved to the Cloud where we have a lot more space.

Are there any apps there that have data associated with them that you no longer need on your iPhone? For example, the iPlayer app is 46MB, but we have 512MB of data associated with it, which suggests we have downloaded some programs at some point that are still lurking inside the app.

Go to the iPlayer app and delete them.

 

Step 6 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: How to delete lots of messages at once

While we're clearing out documents & data, here's another quick win: delete old messages from your iPhone. With less than a minute's work we reduced the space taken by messages from 2.2GB to just 112MB.

Deleting messages might sound like a long-winded process, but you don't need to do this individually. You can kill them quickly by telling iOS to purge any messages that have been on the device for longer than a stipulated period - anything older than 30 days, or anything more than a year old. You do this via Settings > Messages > Message History > Keep Messages, select a time parameter, then click Delete.

We look at this process in more detail in a separate article: read How to delete messages from an iPhone.

 

Step 7 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Turn off Photo Stream

If you have Photo Stream turned on you will see photos you have taken on your iPhone or iPad, and those you have uploaded to your Mac from your camera. These images aren't full res, but are still likely to take up a lot of space on your iPhone. If you could really do with that extra space then turn off Photo Stream.

Go to Settings > Photos & Camera and deselect My Photo Stream. This will delete your Photo Stream from your iPhone.

Unfortunately, it also means that your iPhone photos are no longer uploaded to your Photo Stream on your other devices. You can always turn it back on again after the storage issue has passed.

 

Step 8 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Don't join other people's Photo Streams

You can create and share photo streams with other people. This is a nice way to share images of events you attended with friends, or pictures of grandchildren with grandparents, but beware that if you join someone else's photo stream it may quickly fill up your iPhone.

Make sure you have Photo Sharing turned off in Settings > Photos & Camera.

There is also the new iCloud Photo Library, currently in Beta. When this launches you will be able to automatically upload and store your entire librarin in iCloud to access photos and videos on all your devices. For now we don't know how much space these images will take up space on your iPhone.

 

Step 9 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Don't keep both photos when using HDR

Your phone can use an HDR mode to capture better photos when the image would include bright lights and shadow. You can choose for your iPhone to keep the normal photo, which is handy if you have a slower iPhone - perhaps an iPhone 4, which can be a bit hit and miss with HDR mode due to the slower camera.

However, in newer iPhones we think HDR works well enough for you to be confident that the image you take will be better than it would be without HDR. So make sure that you aren't keeping the normal photo - go to Settings > Photos & Camera and deselect Keep Normal Photo.

 

Step 10 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Sign up for iTunes Match

You don't have to have every iTunes track you could ever possibly need to listen to on your iPhone. If you sign up for iTunes Match (for £21.99 a year) you will have every track you own available to you via the cloud. Therefore you can delete your music from your iPhone knowing that every song you may wish to listen to is but a download away.

Once you have signed up for Apple's service, all your music on all your Apple devices will be uploaded to iCloud (even tracks you have imported from CD). This means that you can download any track you fancy listening to on your iPhone whenever the mood takes you.

You can download a track or a whole album, or a whole playlist. Just click on the iCloud download icon. If you then want to delete the track from your iPhone, just swipe left on it, to delete. It will still be available to download from iCloud another time.

 

Step 11 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Remove iBooks you aren't reading

Do you have any iBooks downloaded on your iPhone? Do you need them to be there? If you delete them they will still be available in iCloud to download again, so why not save yourself a few MB by removing the novel you are reading on your iPad from your iPhone.

You can choose to Delete This Copy, rather than delete it from all your devices.

Also, check Settings > iTunes & App Store and stop Automatic Downloads of iBooks when you buy them on other devices.

 

Step 12 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Check your photo-editing apps

Do you use apps for photo editing. You may find that some old images are lurking within that you could delete.

We had 13.9MB worth of data in Camera+ so we loaded up the app and deleted the images in our Lightbox that we no longer needed - after all, we had already saved those ones we had edited to our camera roll.

Having done this we noticed that Camera+ had 17.1MB of data associated with it. Which was even more than we had before deleting the photos. Click to the next slide to find out what to do when this happens.

 

Step 13 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Spring-clean your Notes

We make a lot of notes in the Notes app on our iPhone. We wondered how much space we could save by deleting those we no longer need.

Unfortunately Notes doesn't appear in the Storage Usage list we were accessing from Settings > General > Usage. But we started with 4GB of storage available on our phone and having deleted a good selection, our phone memory still showed 4GB.

However, we managed to clear another 12MB using CM Security (which already claimed that we had 4.2GB to start with).

We'd conclude that for the amount of effort it's not really worth deleting individual Notes, but it may make a bit of a difference in desperate times.

 

Step 14 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Delete old iMessages

You can claim back quite a lot of space if you delete some of your old iMessages.

The iMessage app on our iPhone went from 512MB to 397MB and all we really did was delete marketing texts from the likes of O2 and Ikea.

We're not suggesting you delete whole iMessage conversations that you might want to go back to one day, but there are bound to be a few you really don't need.

 

Step 15 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Delete photos you don't need

Our Camera Roll is taking up 867MB of space on our iPhone. That's 150 photos, 3 panoramas, and 6 videos. If we hadn't turned off Photo Stream we could easily copy these images on to our Mac (we'll discuss various ways to automatically back up images on the next slide).

However, it is likely that you have images on your iPhone that you had no desire to keep. Perhaps, like us, you often take screen shots of train times when you are commuting. There is no need to keep these shots.

Similarly, if you've been using Burst Mode you may have hundreds of identical images you really don't need taking up space on your iPhone. Go through and delete photos and videos that you don't need.

 

Step 16 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Turn off Burst Mode

Unfortunately it is not possible in iOS 7 or iOS 8 to turn off Burst Mode. This is a lot of people frustrated – some complain that their photos are now blurry because they have less control of the shutter, others find that burst mode quickly fills up the storage they have available.

We suggest that rather than tapping on the shutter button on the screen you use the volumn control buttons on the side of your phone to take the photo as it is easier to do a single tap that way.

 

Step 17 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Use Photo Stream to back up photos

We told you to turn off Photo Stream a few slides ago, but it might be the case that 1GB of Photo Stream images is worth the sacrifice for being able to easily back up the photos you take on your iPhone. Go to Settings > Photos & Camera and turn My Photo Stream on using the slider.

Now, as long as you have on Wi-Fi access every photo you take will appear in your Photo Stream on your iPhone and on any of your other devices you have set up to receive your Photo Stream. (When you turn it on the phone will download the last 1,000 images, it's likely to take a few minutes).

Now that the photos you are taking are appearing in your Photo Stream you can delete them from your Camera Roll. They will still be available to download on your other devices (at least until you have taken another 1,000 photos, pushing that one out of your allocated iCloud storage).

When you want to download the image to your Mac open iPhoto (or Aperture if that's what you use) and click on iCloud. You may need to wait for a moment while the Photo Stream updates itself, depending on how often you access the photo library on your Mac. Once the image you want appears, right click and choose Import.

You can also save the image to your iPad by tapping Select picking that image, and then tapping Add To and selecting an Album to add it to.

You can delete all the photos from your phone now without worrying about them being lost forever now. 

Photo Stream is changing. So stay tuned for more information about how Photo Stream will upload all your photos on any device to the cloud so that you can access them on all your devices.

 

Step 18 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Back up photos to Dropbox

Using Photo Stream isn't the only way in which you can back up the photos you take on your iPhone instantly. You can use the Camera upload feature in Dropbox to have captured images copied directly from the iPhone to Dropbox.

We explain how to do this in this article: How to back up iPhone photos automatically. For more general backup advice, see How to back up an iPhone.

 

Step 19 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Get a bit of space for a photograph

Sometimes you may be confronted with a photo opportunity where in order to capture the moment you really don't have time to delete things from your iPhone.

Your camera app may be saying that you do not have enough space to take more photos, but there may still be a way.

If you open another of your camera applications and use the camera through that you may be able to take a few shots that you wouldn't be able to take otherwise. This is because some apps have access to memory that your camera app might not have. Try it, you never know.

 

Step 20 of 20: How to clear space on iPhone: Optimise storage using iMyFone Umate

As you've probably guessed by now, there are many ways to expand the storage of your iPhone when you start running low, but some methods may take quite a long time. However, there are a myriad of third-party apps available that'll make the process simpler and quicker. One of those apps is iMyFone Umate, an app for Mac and Windows that can free up a huge amount of space on your iPhone.

Simply plug your iPhone in, run the initial scan and the app will tell you how much free space you could potentially gain by clearing out temporary files, junk files, backing up and deleting photos, deleting large files and lastly, showcasing your entire app collection in one place for easy deletion of multiple apps.

Interestingly, the app offers the ability to compress your photos instead of completely deleting them. It backs the original photos up to your Mac or PC, then will compress your entire library to free up extra space (up to 75 percent according to the company).

You can grab a trial of iMyFone Umate for free, or you can pay $19.95 (around £15) for the full app.

Now read our advanced iOS 9 Tips.

Android N out now | Android N UK release date | Android Nougat new features | When will my phone get Android N? Android N is more productive, more secure and more battery-friendly, and it's out now

Android N out now | Android N UK release date | Android Nougat new features | When will my phone…

1995-2015: How technology has changed the world in 20 years

1995-2015: How technology has changed the world in 20 years

How Framestore Took a Real School Bus to Mars (using VR)

How Framestore Took a Real School Bus to Mars (using VR)

iPhone 8 (2017) - Everything you need to know: Future smartphone developments, from graphene and lithium-air batteries to holograms, curved edgeless displays and motion charging | iPhone 7s release date | iPhone 8 release date

iPhone 8 (2017) - Everything you need to know: Future smartphone developments, from graphene and…