One of the most precious commodities on your iPhone or iPad is storage and it can be very stressful when it begins to fill up, especially if you are already limited to 64GB or even less space to start with.

Checking what's using all that space can reveal a strange category called Other that often accounts for many gigabytes of data. So, what is 'Other' on your iPhone or iPad, and can you delete it?

Note: It appears that iOS 13.6 could be causing Other to take more than its fair share of memory up. While Apple didn't mention this error in the notes accompanying the release of iOS 13.6.1, the company has now published a support document detailing the problem indicating that: "An issue in iOS or iPadOS 13 might prevent the system from freeing up storage for you. To fix this issue, update your iPhone or iPad to iOS or iPadOS 13.6.1." Apple notes that if you don't have enough storage to perform the update you can update via your computer (in the case of a Mac you can download the update via the Finder).

What's taking up iPhone Storage?

To start you'll want to find out how to see what's taking up the storage on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap iPhone [or iPad] Storage.
  4. Wait for the calculation of category sizes.

You'll be confronted by a graph something like this. Look at that gigantic Other category!

How to delete other storage on iPhone and iPad: iPhone Storage

What is Other?

Look at the line graph showing the breakdown of your storage categories and you'll see the various colour coded sections including one marked Other. iOS and iPadOS breaks down storage into various categories which include Media, Photos, Apps, System and a few more. Whatever doesn't fit easily into these is then marked as Other. Usually this will be things like cache files, updates, logs, additional Siri voices you may have downloaded, plus similarly ambiguous files.

You can also find that if you send a lot of text messages with images or stream video content, your iPhone will create cache files so it can handle all of these seamlessly. They should automatically be deleted after use, but sometimes they remain and end up in the Other section, unnecessarily taking up a considerable amount of space.

Can I delete Other storage?

Due to its indistinct state, you can't tap a button and empty the Other folder, but it is possible to thin out the things that are filling up Other storage. As with any destructive act when it comes to data, we heartily recommend that you first make a complete back up of your iPhone or iPad just in case anything goes wrong. For a step-by-step guide to the process, read how to back up and iPhone or iPad.

How do I delete Other storage?

There are various things you can look at when it comes to reducing the space that Other files take up on your device. We'll run through some of your options below.

Clear App Caches

The most obvious is to look for apps that might be hoarding caches. To check this out, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap iPhone [or iPad] Storage.
  4. Now scroll down through the various apps listed below the storage graph and you'll see a list of apps and the amount of storage they are currently using.

    How to delete other storage on iPhone and iPad: App Data

  5. Select one of them and you'll be given a more detailed breakdown. It's hardly a forensic diagnosis, as you only have App Size and Documents & Data, but if the latter seems inordinately high then you could try going into the app itself and deleting items.

If this doesn't change things then another option is to delete the app itself and reinstall it, as this often clears out all cached data. Naturally, you'll need to make certain that you have backups of any important data before attempting this route. Follow our How to delete apps on iPhone & iPad for more details.

Clear Safari caches

Another good idea is to clear out the caches stored in Safari, as these can take up quite a bit of room. To do this, take the following steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Safari.
  3. Tap Clear History and Website Data.

How to delete other storage on iPhone and iPad: Safari Cache

There is a drawback to this, as sites you've previously visited with temporarily take longer to load and require you to log back in again, but this should only be for the first time you visit them after deleting the cache.

We have this guide to clearing the cache on your iPhone or iPad.

Limit the time that Messages are stored

Messages is a regular culprit in the Other realm, so you might want to consider limiting how many conversations and messages it stores on your device. Apple gives time-related options for you to choose from, so if you don't need chats from a year or two ago then it may be worth getting rid of them.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Under Message History tap Keep Messages.

    How to delete other storage on iPhone and iPad: Limit Message storage

  4. You'll now be presented with three options for how long your device will store past conversations. These are 30 Days, 1 Year or Forever. As a default, Forever will be selected, so change this to a shorter duration if you're happy to see those messages disappear. Not to worry though, as you can save them to iCloud if you have it configured correctly. So, before you begin this process, read how to backup Messages in iCloud.

If you still find yourself running out of storage, there are other ways to clear the clutter. We've outlined these in how to free up space on an iPhone or you could consider using a cloud storage service to host your larger files.