The 7 things to delete first when your iPhone storage is full
There are two things your iPhone will run out of quickly: battery life and storage.
Getting more power is easy — just get a battery case or a portable battery pack or turn on Low Poer Mode. Getting more storage isn’t. What do you remove first?
1. Stamp out useless images
Removing photos from your iPhone is one of the simplest things to do to free up storage. And you can make sure you don’t permanently lose anything by either downloading photos manually to your computer or backing them up to the cloud. Google Photos is a great free service that lets you back up all your iPhone photos at full resolution and videos at up to 1080p resolution.
If you need help with Google Photos, you can read our How to get all of your photos into Google Photos story to get started.
But if you don’t want to keep many photos on your phone, you can still clean house. Start by getting rid of the images you probably don’t need, like screenshots, selfies and bursted photos.
In iOS 9, screenshots, selfies and bursts are automatically saved to folders with those names (Photos > Albums > Selfies/Screenshots/Bursts). Get in there and clean ’em out.
If you’re an Apple Watch user, you may have also noticed a ton of accidental screenshots saved to your iPhone. Delete all those silly Apple Watch screenshots as well.
And while you’re deleting duplicates, you can also go ahead and delete any copies of your Instagrams. By default, Instagram saves all of your final photos and videos after you’ve posted them (Photos > Albums > Instagram). If you want to disable saving original copies to your iPhone, hit the Options icon (gear) within the Instagram app, then scroll down and toggle off “Save Original Photos.”
2. Delete ‘Recently Deleted’
Also, take note: Starting in iOS 8, deleting photos and videos doesn’t actually delete them for 30 days. Deleted photos and videos get moved to the “Recently Deleted” folder. Apple did this to let you recover media you might have accidentally deleted.
It’s a great idea, but technically, they’re still using up storage on your iPhone until they expire.
To really remove them once and for all, go to (Photos > Albums > Recently Deleted) and select all the files you want gone for good and then tap “Delete” in the lower right corner.
3. Remove old iMovie projects
iMovie (and many other video editing apps) are essential to editing videos (like these stunning timelapses). Much like desktop video editing programs, these apps create “video projects” whenever you edit a new video.
After you’ve finished editing videos, it’s best to delete these projects so they’re not hogging up space after you’re done with them. Video projects — especially ones with lots of different clips, audio tracks, transition effects and text — can add up.
4. Banish 4K video
If you’ve got an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus, you can record 4K video, which has 4x the resolution of standard 1080p full HD resolution. That’s an insane number of pixels.
4K video recording isn’t turned on by default, but if you’re recording in such high resolution, know that the files are going to be larger than normal.
Bigger file sizes means less storage on your iPhone. Like photos, it’s a good idea to transfer 4K videos to a computer or delete them altogether once you’ve shared them online.
It’ll be hard to part with such crispy footage, but it’s not like you’ll be able to appreciate all that extra clarity anyway on your iPhone’s screen; a larger 4K display is a requirement to fully enjoy 4K footage.
5. Dump your music files
I never thought it would happen, but it has: People are choosing streaming music services like Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal over buying music.
With streaming music services, your music is stored in the cloud and generally only accessible when you’re connected to the internet. You can choose to download some music for offline listening, but most people don’t bother anymore.
If you can’t remember the last time you listened to your music downloads, it might be a good time to look at the music files stored on your iPhone and delete them. At least most of them.
6. Manage your email apps
Many of us have tried using different email apps. Many email apps sync and download your entire inbox so you’ve got them for offline access.
You definitely don’t need a dozen email apps. Narrow down which email apps you actually use and remove the rest. Even better: consolidate multiple email accounts into one email app.
7. Use this strange iTunes movie rental trick
Software is weird. In March, Redditor eavesdroppingyou discovered a trick that somehow frees up storage space.
The trick requires your iPhone to have less than 1GB of of space left. You then rent a movie from iTunes that exceeds the amount of storage… and poof… it somehow frees up more storage.