Is your iPhone or iPad running out of storage space? Here’s how to fix it

BY Jason

Published 6 Oct 2013

storage full ios 7

It becomes quite annoying when your iPhone and iPad runs out of storage space and you can’t do things like install new apps, click more photos or upgrade to iOS 7, since the OTA requires at least 3.1GB of free storage space. So here are some tips on how to free up space on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Get an idea of your storage consumption

  • The first step to identify what can be deleted from your device is to get an idea of how much storage space is being consumed by each app on your device. This way, you can start off by deleting the ones which consume the most space, but are not used much. To see a list of apps reverse sorted by storage consumption, open Settings and navigate to General > Usage and you should see the Storage section.

storage-space-1Delete unwanted apps

  • The next step from here would be to go from the top of the list to the bottom, and delete the apps you don’t use. You can do this by tapping the app in the list, from where you’ll be taken to a detail view which has a “Delete App” button. Having the delete button here is especially convenient since you don’t have to go to the home screen and the app, go into editing mode and then press the tiny cross icon. The view also shows you the app size and its “Documents and Data” usage, which is usually the data that is cached for quick access.


  • If you use an app everyday, but its Documents and Data size is too high, you can delete and reinstall it so that all the cached data gets cleared.
  • You can also delete games that occupy a large size, some upwards of 1GB, if you’ve completed or don’t play them.

Tip: You can use a Mac app called PhoneExpander, which makes it very easy to delete unwanted apps. Check our review of PhoneExpander for more details.

Clear Music

  • To selectively delete songs you don’t listen to, you can open the Music app, go to any song list view and swipe from right to left on any song. A delete button should appear, which, when tapped, should remove the song from your device.


  • While you’re deleting your songs, you should also think of whether you can shift entirely to the cloud for your music. Apple has iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Radio built right into the iOS 7 Music app, and there are a number of other services like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio etc., that let you stream music.


  • You could also tell iTunes to sync lower bit rate versions of songs, which occupy less space than their higher quality counterparts. To enable this, connect your device to iTunes, scroll to the Options section of the Summary tab for the device, and you should see a “Convert higher bit rate songs to AAC” checkbox. Select the bit rate you like and check the box.

itunes sd videos

  • If you already switched to an online music streaming service, you could consider deleting your entire music collection from your iPhone or iPad, by going to Settings > General > Usage > Tapping on Music under the Storage section. Once you’re in the detail view, tap on the “Edit” button at the top right, and you’ll see a red delete circle appear next to All Music. Tap on the circle, and tap on the delete button that appears and all your music should be deleted.


  • If you listen to Podcasts, but have a lot of episodes belonging to shows that you no longer listen to, you can delete them by going to Settings > General > Usage > Podcasts and tapping the Edit button.


Delete Videos

  • Videos occupy a lot of space, and you can free up a significant amount of memory by deleting unwanted videos. To delete videos in the Videos app, swipe from right to left on any video. Or if you want to delete multiple videos at once, tap the Edit button on the top. If you use VLC or any other third party apps, you could use their respective editing modes to delete videos.

videos delete ios 7

  • If you use iTunes to sync your video purchases, you can tell it to always prefer standard definition videos, which occupy less space than HD videos. To enable this, connect your device to iTunes, scroll to the Options section of the Summary tab for the device, and you should see a “Prefer standard definition videos” checkbox.

itunes sd videos

Clear Photos and Videos

  • If you use the camera a lot, your Photos and Videos might end up consuming a lot of space, especially if you do not keep transferring them to your PC or Mac. To import your photos from your iPhone or iPad, you can use iPhoto on the Mac or Windows’ inbuilt Pictures and Video importer, and both these programs give you an option to delete photos from your iPhone once the import is done.

iphoto import from phone

  • If you’re not a fan of wired transfers, then you can use Dropbox or Google+’s automatic photo backups, with the only downside being that you’ll have to manually keep deleting the photos that have been successfully uploaded.

Tip: You can use a Mac app called PhoneExpander, which makes it very easy to delete photos and videos to free up storage space. Check our review of PhoneExpander for more details.

Clear Safari Cache, Offline Reading List

  • Safari’s cache and the offline reading list might end up occupying much more space than you expect. To delete the offline reading list, go to Settings > General > Usage > Safari and tap on the Edit button on the top right. A red delete button will slide in next to “Offline Reading List,” from where you can delete your items. Note that, even if you delete items from your offline list, they’ll still be there in your reading list.


  • Strangely, you can’t delete Safari’s cache from this menu itself. Instead, you’ll have to navigate to Settings > Safari > and tap on Clear Cookies and Data. If you, however, want to selectively delete data of certain websites you can go to Advanced > Website Data > Tap on Edit and delete whatever you don’t need.


  • You can also clear your history, but that won’t free up a significant amount of space.

clear history

  • You can similarly also delete cache from Chrome by tapping the Menu icon, going to Settings > Privacy > Clear Browsing Data.


Delete Messages

  • iMessages, especially ones with photo and video attachments, can eat up a lot of space without immediately coming to your notice. You can delete iMessage threads that you know include a lot of photos by opening the Messages app and swiping from right to left. You can also individually delete each message by long tapping on a chat bubble, tapping more and then deleting unwanted messages.


(Image via)

If you keep running out of space constantly, then you might want to think about buying an iPhone or iPad with a higher storage capacity or consider upgrading when you buy your next iPhone or iPad. You can follow this guide to decide which storage capacity iPhone should you buy.

If you have any other tips that you use to free up space, and we’ve missed them in the list, tell us in the comments below.