check your iPhone storage

Clean up your iPhone storage

Today, I want to go over something which is sometimes confusing for some of the clients I work with. And that’s the issue of storage on iPhone.
The issue of running out of storage on the phone is probably one the biggest complaints that I get from clients I work with. And there seems to be a lot of confusion with this problem about how to make sure your don’t run out of storage. So, when we’re talking about your iPhone and iPad, there is two types of storage you need to stay on top of. The actual storage available on the phone itself, and the iCloud storage that you can use to store some of your files online and sync your devices.
In this video, I explain how you can check on your iPhone storage and clean things up if needed. Or you can read the instructions listed below the video.

First, there is your iPhone’s storage, which is how much physical storage space you have on the iPhone itself. And that’s something that you choose when you purchase your phone, and that storage size cannot be changed later on. It’s a fixed amount which cannot be altered, or added to, from then on. So, if you purchased an iPhone with 16GB of storage, that’s all it’s ever going to be able to hold. Which is of course different than what you can do with most computers, where you can usually add a bigger hard drive and more RAM.

And then you have your iCloud storage, and that’s how much storage space you have available on Apple’s computers that is reserved specifically for you, using your Apple ID. And that iCloud storage is something that you can upgrade later on, and buy more space for a fee, if you need to. And the reason you may want to do that is to be able to remove certain items from your phone to clear some space, and store those items on the cloud instead. So, I’ll show you how to check how much space you are currently using on your iPhone and iPad.

First, we’ll look at your iPhone storage to see how much room you have left on the phone itself, since usually, that’s going to dictate whether or not you might need to purchase extra iCloud storage. And you can find that information under Settings, then under the General section. Then if you scroll down a little bit, you’ll see the iPhone storage section. When you click on that, the phone will scan itself, and essentially take an inventory of everything on it, which might take a few seconds, or a few minutes depending on how full your device is. Once it’s done, you’ll see a colored graph that tells you exactly what is taking up space on your phone. You’ll see different colored sections for Apps, Photos, Media, Mail, and so on.

At this point, you’ll be able to easily see what’s taking up space, and exactly how much room you still have left on your device.
Underneath that, you’ll see a section called Recommendations which is a new feature in iOS 11. And the way this feature works is that, if for example you downloaded a game a few months ago, and it’s taking up quite a bit of space but you haven’t played that game in quite a while. If you Enable “Offload unused apps”, it will remove that game from your device, as well as anything else you haven’t used in a while, but it will keep your settings. So, at some point in the future, you can just re-download the game if you want to play it again, and all your preferences and any progress you’ve made will still be there, so it’ll be exactly the same as the last time you played it.

Underneath that, you’ll see a list of everything that is taking up space on your device. The apps taking up the most space will be listed at the top of this list, and this is going to give you a very clear indication of what exactly is gobbling up your storage on your device. The main thing to be aware of is that the number you see to the right of the App’s name is the combined size of the app, as well as any content that’s within the app. So, for example with me, I use an app for listening to podcast called Overcast, and if I click on it, I can see that the app itself is really quite small at only 12 MB, but it’s the podcasts themselves which I’ve downloaded to the phone, those are what’s taking up a ton of space. I listen to a lot of podcasts, so there’s a full 20 GB of audio podcasts currently stored on my phone. If I were to delete the Overcast app from my phone, that would remove both the app and all the podcasts, and therefore clear up 20GB of space. Or, in this instance, I don’t really want to do that, so I could just go to the Overcast app and delete certain episodes to make room, now that I know that this is what is taking up a lot of the space on my phone.

Typically, the apps that tend to take up the most space are going to be anything containing videos and photos, and sometimes also music up to a certain extent. Some of the apps to keep an eye on are going to be the Photos app, or any other apps that you use to shoot pictures and videos with. And if you’re completely filling up your device with images and videos, you might want to consider using the iCloud Photo library, which we will look at later.

The Messages app is also one definitely worth checking on, because the files in there can really sneak up on you. A lot of people don’t really think to look there, but if you’re someone that sends and receives a lot of pictures and videos with friends and family through the Messages app, you can end up with tons of space being taken up by those files until you delete them. And one of the best new features in iOS 11 is the ability to check exactly what is taking up space in your Messages app. Mine is not a great example because I’ve already tidied up in here, but you can now click on the Messages app and you’ll get an exact breakdown of which files are taking up space. Then, you can click on Photos for example and see all the pictures that you currently have in the Messages app. You can then choose Edit at the top right of the screen and add little check-marks to each image you’d like to delete before hitting to trash can icon to actually get rid of them.

Now, keep in mind, if there’s an image that you see listed here that you want to save, you would need to go to the Messages app first, and click and hold on the image until you see the Save option, which will save that image to your Photos library. And it works the same way for the videos.

So, spend some time in here and look around, and see exactly what is taking up space on your phone. You might find that there are some apps that you never use, and probably no longer need to be there. So,  if you need to clear up space on your phone because it’s getting full, this is the first place you should look to understand what exactly is taking up the most room.

Posted by Ian Van Slyke

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