iPhone Storage Full? How to Clear Storage on iPhone

Is your iPhone storage full? You may experience a few minor inconveniences like being unable to update an app or download an attachment. On the other hand, your device could freeze up or throw errors; its battery will start to suffer and you may encounter random shutdowns.

💬 To help you free up space and keep your device optimized, we’ll show you different ways (there are 8) to clear your iPhone storage of photos, videos, documents, attachments, temp files, caches, and more. Read on!

Why Is My iPhone Storage Full?

Most iPhones have at least 64 GB of storage space installed. It sounds like a lot but it runs out quickly – there are a lot of potential data hogs on your device.

We’ll quickly review each data type so you know exactly where your precious space is going (and what data to nuke first).

  • 👤 Personal data – Photos, videos, documents, and other files the user saved to the device.
  • ✉️ Messages/attachments – Conversations, photos, videos, and other files received via email or messaging apps like Messages or WhatsApp.
  • 📄 Caches – Cache files and temporary data used by iOS and apps.
  • ⬇️ Downloaded files – Files downloaded from the internet (like a website or cloud storage service like Google Drive).
  • 🧰 Apps – Apps downloaded and installed from the App Store
  • ⚙️ System data – Files used by iOS for its operation.

To check your iPhone’s storage allocation:

Open the Settings app and tap General, then iPhone Storage. At the very top of the screen, review what data is taking up your device’s storage space (Apps, iOS, Mail, Photos, and System Data). Beneath that, you’ll find all the apps installed on your iPhone and how much space they are using up.

Use these indicators to decide what to clean up first.

Iphone Storage in General Settings

How to Free Up Space on iPhone

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, we’ll show you how to free up storage on your iPhone using 8 different methods.

Data is scattered around the device and there’s no way to delete everything at once without resetting your iPhone. Instead, we’ll show you how to clear your iPhone storage by cleaning up each data type one by one.

Method 1: Clear Your Browser Cache

Your iPhone’s web browser cache should be the first to go. Over time, it can take up loads of space due to storing high-resolution images and similar assets in order to cut loading time on certain pages.

This can be annoying because the cache may store such assets from pages that you will never visit again. Fortunately, cleaning it is easy and you don’t really need to worry about losing personal data.

⚠️ This step also deletes your browser cookies, which store login details and other information. After applying this method to your device, you will have to login to the websites again – so make sure your login info is saved or written down somewhere!

To clear your Safari browser history:

Open the Settings app. Then, scroll down a bit and tap Safari. Scroll down to the PRIVACY & SECURITY section and tap Clear History and Website Data.

Make sure to tap Clear History and Data to confirm the action!

Safari Clear History Website in Safari Settings

💡 Other browser apps may provide an option to clear cache within the app itself. For example, you can clear Google Chrome’s cache by opening the Google Chrome app > menu button > History menu page.

Method 2: Delete Your Apps Cache

Cleaning your app caches can help you reclaim even more storage space without deleting personal data. Social media and messenger app caches are especially notorious for taking up a lot of space; they usually involve lots of media files like photos and videos being downloaded or saved by users.

When it comes to clearing out those cluttered app caches on your iPhone, you’ve got two handy methods up your sleeve:

  • First, some apps come with a built-in cache-clearing tool (although not all of them do).
  • Second, you can opt for the classic delete-and-reinstall approach.

In our guide below, we’ll walk you through both methods for three popular apps: TikTok, WhatsApp, and Facebook. For more insights on how to clear caches in other apps, check out this tutorial: Clear Cache on iPhone.

Option A: Use In-App Settings

➡️ Deleting TikTok app cache:

Open the TikTok app and tap Profile in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Then, tap the menu icon (3 lines) in the top-right corner of the screen and tap Settings and privacy. Select Free up space.

Privacy clean-up in Profile Settings

Finally, tap the Clear cache button and close the app.

Clear Cache in Free-up Space

➡️ Deleting WhatsApp app cache:

Open the WhatsApp app and tap the Settings button in the bottom-right corner of the screen. Then, tap Storage and Data. Under the STORAGE section, tap Manage Storage. Under the CHATS section, tap on any conversation whose media files you want to delete.

Data Manager Storage in Storage Settings

Next, tap Select in the top-right corner of the screen. Then, tap the photos and videos you want to clear and tap the Trash icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

Tap Delete Item to delete the file.

Delete Selected item in Photos

➡️ Deleting Facebook app cache:

  1. Open the Facebook app and tap on the Menu button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  2. Then, tap the dropdown arrow beside Settings & privacy.
  3. Under the Preferences section, tap Browser.
  4. Under the Browsing Data beside Your browsing data, tap Clear.

Clear Browsing of Data in Privacy Settings


Option B: Delete and Reinstall the App

To delete an app on your iPhone:

On your iPhone’s home screen, tap and hold on the app you want to delete and tap Remove App. Then, tap Delete App to confirm the action.

Delete App in Chrome Remove App

☝️ Once you’ve deleted the app, you can easily reinstall it via the App Store > Account > Purchased menu.

Method 3: Clear Duplicate Photos & Videos

Another easy way to clear space on your iPhone is by deleting duplicate photos and videos. These media files can take up more space than you initially suspect… The iPhone’s camera tools like Live Photos and HDR mode take multiple photos at a time.

Fortunately, iOS makes it really easy to delete duplicates. They are all saved in the Duplicates album in the Photos app, where you can easily merge or delete them with a few taps.

To clear duplicate photos and videos on your iPhone:

Open the Photos app and tap Albums at the bottom of the screen. Then, scroll down to the Utilities section and tap Duplicates. Next, tap Merge beside the set of duplicates you want to clear. Finally, tap Merge Exact Copies to confirm the action.

Merge exact copies in Duplicates Album
Managing your iPhone’s photo clutter isn’t just about deleting duplicates—it’s also about optimizing your collection. If you’ve got a surplus of unnecessary similar photos, there’s a clever trick to remove them with minimal fuss. Some iPhone cleaner apps, powered by cutting-edge tech, can automatically declutter your gallery.

Method 4: Offload the Apps

If you have apps that you don’t use often or won’t need in the near future, consider offloading them. Offloading an app deletes the app itself but keeps the app data, which usually includes user preferences, login credentials, user-generated content, and other you-specific data.

💡 Offloaded apps keep their icons on your home screen. You can identify them by the download icon beside their name, which looks like a cloud with a downward-pointing arrow.

Offloading apps is a good option if you need to reclaim a lot of storage space quickly but still intend to use those apps in the future. In some cases, you may get a recommendation from iOS to offload your unused apps in the iPhone Storage menu (Settings app > General > iPhone Storage). This is what it looks like:

Enable Off-load in Unused Apps

But if the above prompt doesn’t appear for you, you can also offload unused apps manually:

Open the Settings app and tap General. Then, tap iPhone Storage. Tap on any app you want to offload.

Todoist in Iphone Storage under General Settings

Next, tap Offload App. Finally, tap Offload App again when prompted to confirm the action.

Offload App in Todoist

Method 5: Remove Unused Apps

If you have apps you don’t plan on using anymore, just delete them. Apps take up a lot of space and can even grow in size when they get updated. You may opt to offload them, but that method still leaves the shortcut on your home screen and stores app data and cache files.

💡 For step-by-step instructions on removing apps, see this section.

Method 6: Delete Message Attachments

If you receive photos, videos, documents, and other files via iMessage, they may still be stored as attachments in your Messages app – you can reclaim a lot of storage space by deleting them.

Fortunately, you can find and delete attachments through the Settings app. We’ll demonstrate its usage below.

To delete message attachments on your iPhone:

Open the Settings app and tap General. Tap iPhone Storage. Then, scroll down your list of apps and tap Messages.

Messages in iPhone Storage in General Settings.

Under the DOCUMENTS section, tap on the file type you want to purge first. For example, Videos. Tap Edit in the top-right corner of the screen. Select the files you want to erase and tap on the Trash icon.

delete messages attachments

Method 7: Utilize iCloud to Free Up Space on Your iPhone

  • Photos – Enable iCloud for Photos to upload all media files to iCloud. This is good for your storage for 2 reasons. (1) You can access them from multiple devices without downloading them. (2) You can enable the Optimize Storage setting, which only keeps lower-resolution versions of your media on your device and stores the originals in iCloud.
  • iCloud Drive – Many apps allow you to save data to your iCloud drive. The files won’t take up local storage space and are accessible from any device without having to download them.
  • iCloud Mail – Unlike some mail apps that store data locally, iCloud Mail stores all of its data (including attachments) on its servers.
  • Notes – While notes created with the Notes app don’t take up much space, you can also opt to store them in iCloud and save a few MB of local storage.
  • Messages – The Messages app can take up a lot of space due to attachments like photos and videos. Enabled iCloud for Messages to store them on iCloud’s servers instead of on your device.

Method 8: Delete Duplicate Contacts

Duplicate contacts are tiny files but they are still a waste of space. They can also be annoying when you need to quickly make a call and you have to check 5 entries with the same name. Fortunately, cleaning up duplicate contacts takes little effort.

To delete duplicate contacts on your iPhone:

Open the Phone app and tap Contacts at the bottom of the screen. iOS will notify you if it detects any duplicate contacts. If you see Duplicates Found on-screen, tap View Duplicates.

Next, tap on the duplicates you want to delete. Alternatively, you can tap Merge All to merge all duplicates iOS found before deleting them.

Merge all Contact in Contact Lists

Finally, tap Merge again to confirm the action.

Contact Merged in Merge

FAQ

When your iPhone storage is full, it could lead to performance issues and eventually errors. Here’s how to clear storage on your iPhone quickly:

  • Delete or offload unused apps
  • Enable iCloud for Photos and activate the Optimize Storage setting
  • Delete attachments from your messenger apps (including Messages)
  • Clear your browser cache
  • Delete app caches
  • Delete or merge duplicate photos and videos
  • Offload apps
  • Remove unused apps
  • Delete attachments from messenger apps (including the native Messages app)
  • Use iCloud for apps like Photos, Messages, iCloud Mail, etc.

To free up space on your iPhone without deleting any photos or videos, enable iCloud for Photos and activate the Optimize Storage setting. Your iPhone will then only keep smaller, low-resolution versions of your photos and videos in its local storage and upload the originals to iCloud.

Here’s how to clear up your iPhone storage without deleting stuff:

  • Merge duplicate photos and videos (Photos app > Albums > Duplicates)
  • Enable iCloud and turn on Optimize Storage
  • Merge duplicate contacts
  • Offload infrequently used apps (deletes the app but keeps your data)

Conclusion

A full iPhone storage is always detrimental to your device – not only does it prevent you from saving data but it can also cause lag, errors, and even random shutdowns.

iOS provides many ways to help you manage your storage like automatically finding duplicates and giving you the option to offload apps. However, the best way to avoid this problem in the future is to practice good digital hygiene and purge unnecessary data every few weeks.

And make sure to utilize iCloud for most (if not all) of the apps it supports – especially Photos and Messages!

Jeff Cochin is a distinguished expert in data management, recovery, and warehousing, with over a decade of hands-on experience. His expertise extends to data clouds, failovers, SaaS, and constructing digital marketing strategies for high-growth startups. Notably, he holds comprehensive knowledge of Mac computers, Apple's ecosystem, and iPhone technology, making him a trusted authority in these domains. With nearly five years as a dedicated technical writer, Jeff has become a seasoned researcher and reviewer of new applications and services, particularly those within the Apple and Mac universe. His articles and tutorials, often covering nuances of Mac and iPhone use, have graced the pages of many publications, including Macgasm, OnMac, Applenapps, LAWeekly, and more. They have collectively reached a global audience of millions. Jeff spends a substantial portion of his professional life interfacing with AWS, Docker, Medium.com, freeCodeCamp, and SQL-related technologies, integrating these tools with his profound understanding of Mac systems and software. When he's not immersed in writing, troubleshooting, or scripting for Mac and iPhone environments, or staring at computer screens, Jeff embraces the thrill of outdoor adventures. An enthusiast of biking, kayaking, and hiking, he often seeks new trails to explore alongside his like-minded, outdoors-loving friends.
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