Clear space on an An­droid de­vice

Zap cached app files, clear the Down­loads folder, take charge of mu­sic down­loads, and more. BEN PAT­TER­SON re­ports

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Few things in life are as an­noy­ing as find­ing that your An­droid hand­set re­fuses to in­stall any more app up­dates be­cause it’s run out of stor­age. Un­like many of life’s lit­tle an­noy­ances, though, this one’s easy to fix.

You can quickly clear out hun­dreds of megabytes or even a gig or two by sweep­ing up stale down­loads,

root­ing out off­line maps and doc­u­ments, clear­ing caches, and wip­ing un­needed mu­sic and video files. There’s even an easy way to find and nix space­hog­ging apps that you no longer use.

1. Clear out all cached app data

If you dig into the Apps stor­age set­ting screen and tap on an in­di­vid­ual app, you’ll no­tice that each app has its own stash of ‘cached’ data – any­where from a few kilo­bytes to hun­dreds of megabytes, or even more. These caches of data are es­sen­tially just junk files, and they can be safely deleted to free up stor­age space. Tap the Clear Cache but­ton to take out the trash.

If poking through each and ev­ery app look­ing for cached data to clear sounds like a chore, there’s an easy way to clear all cached app data in one fell swoop. Tap Set­tings > Stor­age > Cached data, then tap OK in the con­fir­ma­tion win­dow.

2. Clean up the Down­loads folder

Just like on a PC or a Mac, your An­droid de­vice has a Down­loads folder, and it’s a favourite hide­out for mis­cel­la­neous junk files down­loaded from the web or by your var­i­ous An­droid apps.

Open the app drawer and tap Down­loads to see what’s lurk­ing in the Down­loads folder. Tap the three-line menu in the top cor­ner of the screen and sort the list of down­loads by size, then take a look at what’s hog­ging the most stor­age space. If you see any­thing you don’t need, tap and hold the file to se­lect it, then tap the Trash but­ton.

3. Dump pho­tos that are al­ready backed up

One of the best fea­tures of Google’s new Pho­tos app is its abil­ity to back up your en­tire photo li­brary to your on­line Google ac­count. Once your snap­shots are safely backed up, Pho­tos can zap any lo­cally stored im­ages to free up more stor­age space.

Open the Pho­tos app, tap the three-line menu but­ton in the top left cor­ner of the screen, then tap Free up de­vice stor­age. The Pho­tos app will let you know how many pic­tures it can delete from lo­cal stor­age; tap OK to pull the trig­ger.

Note: If you’re us­ing the ‘High qual­ity’ set­ting for un­lim­ited but lower-res­o­lu­tion cloud stor­age of your backed up pho­tos, keep in mind that the ‘Free up de­vice stor­age’ fea­ture will delete your full-res­o­lu­tion orig­i­nals. Make sure you’ve stored them else­where be­fore you tap the OK but­ton.

4. Man­age down­loaded mu­sic and pod­casts

Google’s Play Mu­sic app gives you two op­tions when it comes to stor­ing tunes on your de­vice: You can man­u­ally pick which pur­chased or up­loaded Google Play songs and al­bums get down­loaded, or you can let the app make those de­ci­sions for you. Ei­ther way, mu­sic lovers may end up with a sig­nif­i­cant amount of their de­vice stor­age gob­bled up by their favourite artists.

Same goes with pod­casts, with Play Mu­sic’s de­fault set­ting geared to auto-down­load the three most re­cent episodes of each sub­scrip­tions. If you sub­scribe to more than a few pod­casts, those episodes – and the space re­quired to store them on your hand­set – can add up quickly.

To check ex­actly how many megabytes or even gi­ga­bytes of stor­age Play Mu­sic has re­served for

tunes and pod­casts, tap the three-line menu but­ton in the top left cor­ner of the screen, then tap Set­tings > Man­age down­loads. To wipe a song down­load or a pod­cast from lo­cal stor­age, tap the or­ange down­loaded but­ton to the right of its name.

Bonus tip: You can use the same method to man­age your down­loads in the Play Movies & TV app.

5. Erase off­line ar­eas in Google Maps

Down­load­ing a map in the lat­est ver­sion of the Google Maps app is a great way to nav­i­gate when your de­vice is off­line, es­pe­cially now that both search­ing and driv­ing di­rec­tions are sup­ported.

But those search­able off­line ‘ar­eas’ come at a cost: stor­age space, and po­ten­tially lots of it. In­deed, a sin­gle off­line map can con­sume more than a gi­ga­byte of stor­age de­pend­ing on the size of the area.

You can check how much space your off­line maps have staked out by tap­ping the three-line menu but­ton in the top left cor­ner of the main Google Maps in­ter­face, then tap Off­line. The stor­age used by each off­line map is dis­played be­low its name. Tap the map and tap Delete to re­claim its stor­age space.

6. Un­load your least-used apps

I love the fact that I can down­load and in­stall An­droid apps to my de­vices re­motely from a desk­top Web browser. The down­side? My An­droid hand­sets tend to be over­stuffed with too many apps, many of them used only once (or even never).

The so­lu­tion, of course, is to delete some of those apps – ideally, the ones you use the least.

To do so, open the Play Store app, tap the three­line menu but­ton in the top right cor­ner of the screen, tap My apps & games, then tap the In­stalled tab. Next, tap the Sort but­ton near the top-right cor­ner of the screen, then pick an op­tion, such as Size or – bet­ter yet – Last Used. If you sort your apps ac­cord­ing to Last Used, scroll to the very bot­tom of the list to see which apps you use the least. See a sel­dom-used app you could do with­out? Tap it, then tap Unin­stall.

There are also sev­eral apps that can track your app us­age and tell you which apps you’re us­ing the least. Among them: App Us­age, App Tracker, and Qual­i­tyTime.

Google Pho­tos will quickly delete any pic­tures on your de­vice that have al­ready been backed up to your Google ac­count

Down­loaded tunes and pod­casts in the Play Mu­sic app can gob­ble up an im­pres­sive amount of stor­age

Just tap one of your off­line maps in the Google Maps app to up­date it or – if you’re run­ning low on stor­age space – delete it

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