How to Manage Storage on an iPhone or iPad

Storage Full AlertWhen using an iPhone or iPad, most people typically install apps, take photos and videos, download music or books, surf the Internet, and check emails. Over time, this uses more and more storage space on the device as information is downloaded and saved.

Eventually, you may see an alert appear indicating your device memory is full. Some of the information on the device will need to be deleted or moved to your computer for storage.


Manage Storage

To check the amount of storage on your device, go to Settings-> General -> Storage & iCloud Usage. In the Storage section at the top of the window, you will see some information about the total storage used and available on your device. If the amount of available storage is down to a few megabytes (MB), your device storage is basically full.
Storage Menu


You can then tap Manage Storage to see a list of apps and how much storage they are using on your device.  Apps at the top of the list are using the most storage. This can be helpful to determine where to start looking for data to delete from the device.
Storage Details


Depending on how you use your device, you may have different apps in your list than shown above. You will need to work through the list to determine if you can delete some data from an app. You may find apps on your device that you no longer use and can be deleted.

  • If you take a lot of photos and videos, this will consume a considerable amount of storage. As a result, the Photos app will appear near the top of the list. You will need to delete some photos and videos to recover some storage space. You can transfer the photos and videos to a computer before deleting them if you want to save them. This article from the Apple website provides details for transferring your photos from the iPhone to your computer.
  • Videos typically consume much more storage than photos. Deleting videos can be a quick way to recover large chunks of storage.
  • If the messages app is near the top of the list, it is likely you have a lot of photos or videos stored in the Messages app. Deleting old messages or the photos contained in messages will free up some storage space.
  • If you want to keep all your photos on your device, you can try enabling the iCloud Photo Library feature under Settings -> iCloud -> Photos. Enabling the iCloud Photo Library will store full resolution photos in iCloud and keep lower resolution “device-sized” photos on your device. This will reduce the amount of storage required for the photos on your device.
  • If you downloaded a movie to your device, this will also use a large amount of storage.


Restore the iPhone or iPad

After you finish deleting apps, photos, or whatever else from your iPhone, you can recover some additional storage by backing up and restoring your device. This will remove data left behind by apps you may have deleted as well as temporary files created by apps that are no longer needed. These articles from the Apple website explain how to backup and restore the iPhone and iPad.


External Storage Devices

You can not increase the internal storage of your iPhone or iPad. However, many companies provide options to expand storage using external storage devices. This article provides a summary of some of the options available.


Third-Party Apps

The Internet is full of apps for use on your computer that claim to recover storage space on your device. I have not used any of these apps and will not recommend one specific app over another. If you happen to use one of these apps, I would be very interested to hear your opinion of it. Please send me an email and let me know.