1. Computer Skills

How to Manage Storage Effectively on an iOS Device

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Read Time: 6 min

One of the few big drawbacks of using an iPhone or iPad is that physical storage capacity can't be increased, and it’s all too easy to find yourself out of space.

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to manage storage on an iOS device, and also provide you with some tips and tricks to save space.

Free Up Space 

Tap Settings > General, and then select either iPad Storage or iPhone Storage, depending on the device you’re using. 

You'll see a colour coded breakdown of the categories that are taking up the most space on the device: Apps, Photos, Mail, Media, Book and Other

Underneath, there is an option to Offload Unused Apps which, if enabled, automatically offloads unused apps to free up space, though it saves any files and settings for later use.

Offloaded app icons appear greyed out on the home screen, and can be reinstalled instantly with a simple tap.

iPad StorageiPad StorageiPad Storage
Offload Unused Apps will automatically offload unused apps to free up space

You'll also see a long list of every app that’s currently downloaded on the iPhone or iPad, together with the amount of space being used by each. Tap an app to view a more detailed breakdown and, if you wish, press either Offload App to delete the app but keep the files and settings, or Delete App to delete it completely.

Problem Areas

Once you’ve discarded the apps you no longer use, it's useful to check other storage problem areas.

Photos and Videos

Tap Photos, then scroll through the camera roll and delete any unwanted photos or videos. 

Photos keeps deleted files for up to 40 days once they have been eliminated from the camera roll, so press Albums > Recently Deleted and delete every photo and video in that folder to free up space now, rather than in month or so.

Next, tap Settings > Your Name > Photos, and then flip the iCloud Photo Library switch to On to automatically upload and store your entire library in iCloud so that it can be easily accessed across all devices. 

Enabling iCloud Photo Library also gives you the option to optimise the iPhone or iPad storage by storing high-resolution photos and videos to iCloud, and lower-resolution versions to your device. Press Optimise iPhone/iPad Storage to enable, or Download and Keep Originals if you’d rather keep high-resolution originals.

While you’re at it, check the TV app—previously called Videos—for any television shows or films you’ve forgotten to delete after watching.

Delete PhotoDelete PhotoDelete Photo
Photos keeps deleted files for up to 40 days

Music and Podcasts

If you have an Apple Music subscription, tap Settings > Music, and then flip the iCloud Music Library switch to On

Like iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Music Library automatically uploads and stores the entire music library in iCloud so that it can be easily accessed across all devices. 

Select Keep Music to add the music on your device to your iCloud Music Library, or Delete and Replace to replace the music on the device with the music in the library.

Press Optimise Storage to automatically remove music on your device that you haven’t listened to in a while. Select the minimum storage amount you want to reserve for the music, or tap None to delete as much music as is necessary to free up space.

If you’re not subscribed to Apple Music, don’t worry, you can still free up space manually—it’ll just take a little longer. 

Tap Music, then scroll through the music collection and delete any unwanted albums or songs by pressing and holding the album or song and tapping Remove.

Delete songs from MusicDelete songs from MusicDelete songs from Music
Scroll through your music collection and delete any unwanted albums or songs

Once you’ve condensed the music collection, move on to podcasts.

Tap Podcasts or your chosen podcast app, and then scroll through the podcasts, deleting the ones you’ve already listened to or have no intention of listening to.

Instead of downloading podcasts to your device, wait until you have an internet connection and choose to stream them instead. If, for whatever reason, you need to download a podcast, set your podcast app to delete played episodes automatically.

Instant Messaging 

Although it may not seem like it, instant messages can take up a surprisingly large amount of space, especially if you frequently send photos and videos to your contacts.

Tap Messages, press Edit, highlight the conversations you’d like to delete and then tap Remove. Afterwards, press Settings > Messages, and then scroll down to Keep Messages. Select 30 Days to automatically delete conversations after 30 days have passed.

Messages settingsMessages settingsMessages settings
Select 30 Days to automatically delete conversations after 30 days have passed

Web Browser

Safari and other web browsers store web pages you’ve visited in a cache to speed up loading times. Tap Settings > Safari > Advanced, and then press Remove All Website Data to clear Safari’s cache.

If you’d like, you can also clear the history and cookies, too, by returning to Settings > Safari and pressing Clear History and Website Data. Be warned, however, that clearing cookies will log you out of all the websites you’re currently logged in to.

Save Space

Instead of adding or downloading music to Apple’s default Music app, stream it for free with Spotify.

Spotify is available cross-platform, and the app also offers an advertisement-free service for £9.99 a month that can save music for offline use. Of course, saving music for offline use will take up space on your device, however, each song can be deleted and re-downloaded as and when needed, if necessary. 

Apple’s own Apple Music is almost identical to Spotify, but requires a paid subscription to use, however, you will then have access to iCloud Music Library.

Same goes with television shows and films. Rather than downloading them to an iPhone or iPad, choose to stream instead. Netflix is the most popular option for streaming video, however, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video are good, too.

Remember, though, you'll likely incur additional costs from your cellular provider if you stream data and are not connected to Wi-Fi.

Stream music for free with Spotify


iCloud is Apple’s online storage service that stores photos, videos and documents to save space on an iPhone or iPad. It can also be used to wirelessly back up your device.

Each Apple ID comes complete with five gigabytes of free storage, however, if you find yourself rapidly approaching the limit, you can upgrade the iCloud storage for a small monthly charge.

Currently, it costs just £0.79 per month for 50 gigabytes of additional space, £2.49 for 200 gigabytes, or £6.99 for 2 terabytes. With the 50-gigabyte and two-terabyte plans, you're able to share your allowance with other family members.

You can find out how much space you have left by tapping Settings > Your Name > iCloud. You'll also see which apps are using iCloud and you may enable or disable them as you see fit.


In this tutorial, I've shown you how to manage storage on an iOS device and I've given you some tips and tricks to save space.

Thanks to the proliferation of iCloud and the ability to stream rather than download, it’s perfectly possible to get by nowadays with relatively little physical storage space on the device.

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