Re­cover stor­age space on an iOS de­vice

Find some space by tam­ing bloated apps, culling pod­casts, trim­ming at­tach­ments, and more. Ben Pat­ter­son shows how

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Sure, 16GB of stor­age sounded like plenty when you first bought your iPhone, but you prob­a­bly re­gret­ted your de­ci­sion to go with Ap­ple’s cheap­est op­tion when those pesky “low stor­age” warnings started pop­ping up.

In­deed, you’d be sur­prised by how quickly your iPhone or iPad can chew through stor­age,

par­tic­u­larly the tiny 16GB model. Even worse, your iOS de­vice may refuse to in­stall up­dates or snap any more pho­tos if your hand­set’s stor­age is burst­ing at the seams.

One rem­edy for a jam-packed iPhone or iPad is to, say, sim­ply delete all your songs (which you can al­ways re-sync via iTunes or re­down­load from the iTunes Store) or trash large swaths or pho­tos and videos. But there are also eas­ier, more pain­less ways to find a few gigs of breath­ing room.

1. Delete and re­in­stall your so­cial apps

One of the eas­i­est ways to clear out the stor­age on an iPhone or iPad is by look­ing for space-hog­ging iOS apps – you can do so by tap­ping Set­tings > Gen­eral > Stor­age & iCloud Us­age, then tap Man­age Stor­age un­der the Stor­age head­ing.

When you do, you may be sur­prised to find Face­book, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram, and other so­cial apps among your big­gest stor­age hogs. The rea­son: While your so­cial apps them­selves aren’t all that large, they tend to get bloated with cached im­ages and videos as your browse your var­i­ous feeds. The Face­book app, for ex­am­ple, can swell from about 50MB or so to close to 500MB. If you’re a so­cial maven, your so­cial apps may be hog­ging sev­eral gigs of your pre­cious iPhone stor­age.

Un­for­tu­nately, there’s no way to purge a file’s ‘Doc­u­ments & data’ cache from the main iOS set­tings, and while some so­cial apps may have op­tions for clean­ing out their junk files, most don’t.

So, here’s the plan: just delete ‘em and re­in­stall them. When you log back into Face­book, In­sta­gram, and the like from your iPhone, you’ll find that their

re­spec­tive iOS apps have shrunk dra­mat­i­cally, free­ing up (hope­fully) tons of stor­age in the process. Your so­cial apps will, of course, even­tu­ally grow in size again, so may need to re­peat the process the next time you run low on stor­age.

2. Trim text mes­sage at­tach­ments, and set iMes­sages to auto-delete

Text mes­sages are tiny in terms of stor­age, but the same can’t be said of the pho­tos and videos that are of­ten at­tached to them.

If you’re not pay­ing at­ten­tion, it’s easy for the data cache of iOS’s Mes­sages app to grow to hun­dreds of megabytes in size, with most of the junk be­ing im­age and video at­tach­ments

To see the at­tach­ments from a par­tic­u­larly long Mes­sages thread, just open the app, tap a thread, tap De­tails, then scroll down to the At­tach­ments sec­tion. Next, tap and hold an at­tach­ment, tap More, then start tap­ping any pho­tos, videos, or other at­tach­ments you’d like to delete. (Nope, there’s no Se­lect All but­ton, nor is there a way to se­lect a bunch of at­tach­ments at once.) Once you’re done se­lect­ing, tap Save Im­age (or Save At­tach­ment) or tap the Trash but­ton to delete.

To quickly trash a bunch of mes­sage at­tach­ments while at the same time keep­ing Mes­sages data from get­ting out of con­trol, you can set the Mes­sages app to auto-delete mes­sages as it goes.

Tap Set­tings > Mes­sages > Keep Mes­sages, then pick a set­ting: For­ever (the de­fault), one year, or 30 days. Just make sure to save any must-keep at­tach­ments be­fore chang­ing the Keep Mes­sages set­ting, be­cause once you do, any mes­sages that fall out­side the new ‘keep’ win­dow will in­stantly be deleted.

3. Keep an eye on pod­casts

If you got caught up in the Se­rial hype but haven’t checked your pod­cast app in a few months, watch out – you might have dozens of au­to­mat­i­cally queued episodes sit­ting on your iOS de­vice.

You can, of course, quickly free up space by delet­ing all those stor­age-hog­ging pod­cast episodes – af­ter all, you can al­ways just re­down­load them – but a smarter move is to set your favourite pod­cast app to keep only a few un­played episodes at a time. For the iOS Pod­cast app, tap Set­tings > Pod­casts > Limit Episodes, then

pick an op­tion – any­thing from a month to just the most re­cent episode.

4. Toss out old dig­i­tal mag­a­zines

Just as old pod­cast episodes can start to pile up, so can is­sues from your dig­i­tal mag­a­zine sub­scrip­tions, to the tune of hun­dreds of megabytes or more.

If you see any mag­a­zine apps in the iOS Man­age Stor­age screen that are tak­ing up more than their fair share of stor­age, just open the cul­prits and clear out those old is­sues, which, as with pod­casts, you’ll be able to down­load again.

Also, see if your mag­a­zine apps have an op­tion for delet­ing old is­sues au­to­mat­i­cally. In the New Yorker app, for ex­am­ple, you can tap the Li­brary tab,

tap the Set­tings but­ton, tap the Pref­er­ences tab, then en­able the Auto Re­move set­ting.

5. Turn iCloud Photo Li­brary off and then on again

iCloud Photo Li­brary sure sounds like a great idea on pa­per: All of your pho­tos and videos, all stored on iCloud, and avail­able on all your iOS de­vices.

But even though iOS is sup­posed to “op­ti­mize” your photo stor­age with iCloud Photo Li­brary turned on, the cache of pic­tures and videos on your de­vice may still swell to sev­eral gigs, eas­ily fill­ing a huge chunk of your pre­cious stor­age. And no, you can’t sim­ply delete pho­tos and clips from the Cam­era Roll, be­cause do­ing so will delete them from your iCloud Photo Li­brary, too.

If you’re us­ing iCloud Photo Li­brary and you’re con­tin­u­ally run­ning low on iPhone or iPad stor­age, try this: turn iCloud Li­brary off and then on again. Do­ing so seems to give iOS a much-needed kick in the pants when it comes to op­ti­mis­ing your photo stor­age.

First, though, you’ll want to make sure all those snap­shots and videos in iCloud Photo Li­brary are backed up some­where. (Yes, they should al­ready be safe up in iCloud stor­age, but bet­ter safe than sorry.)

If you have a Mac, launch the Pho­tos app, click Pho­tos > Pref­er­ences, make sure iCloud Photo Li­brary is checked, then se­lect the “Down­load Orig­i­nals to this Mac” set­ting.

For Win­dows, you’ll need to log in to iCloud. com from a web browser, click the Pho­tos icon, browser to the All Pho­tos folder, and then... well, you’ll need to se­lect all your snap­shots and click

Down­load, mean­ing each pic­ture will down­load to your hard drive one file at a time. Ab­surd, I know, but that’s the deal.

Back on your iPhone or iPad, tap Set­tings > Pho­tos & Cam­era, then switch off the iCloud Photo Li­brary set­ting. A pop-up will ask if you want to down­load all the photo orig­i­nals in iCloud to your iPhone; go ahead and tap Re­move Orig­i­nals—a safe op­tion, given that you just backed up your orig­i­nals to your Mac or PC. Within a few min­utes, most of the snap­shots in the Pho­tos app should be gone, although a few strag­glers will prob­a­bly re­main.

Once your iOS de­vice is done un­sync­ing it­self from iCloud Photo Li­brary, turn it back on again. You’ll have to wait while your iPhone or iPad up­loads any re­main­ing im­ages in the Pho­tos app up to iCloud, af­ter which all your Photo Li­brary im­ages will reap­pear – and with any luck, your iOS photo col­lec­tion will take up a lot less room.

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