How to make the most of your iPhone storage without spending a dime

For many people, the iPhone has become a storage hub for everything from photo libraries to collections of music, books, games and more. But that also means it can be easy to run out of space. Even though Apple has increased the Default iPhone Storage from 64 GB to 128 GB with the iPhone 13that might not be enough for everyone.

The best way to save local storage is to invest in a cloud storage service like Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive, Box or Dropbox to offload some of your files. But you can also tweak some settings to make sure you’re using your iPhone’s storage capacity to the fullest. When iOS16 launches, your iPhone will also be able to detect duplicate photos, which should make it easier to manage and organize your picture library.

See below for more on how to free up storage space on your iPhone.

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First, see what takes up the most space on your iPhone

To maximize your iPhone storage, you need to know what occupies your device in the first place. Take a look at what’s eating up your storage space so you know where to start. Launch Settingsfaucet General and scroll to iPhone Storage. Choose this option to see a breakdown of file and media types that are taking up space on your iPhone. Apple may also make recommendations on how to free up space, such as reviewing videos stored on your device, as shown below.

Take a look at what’s eating up your iPhone’s storage in the settings menu.

Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Make sure your iPhone optimizes photo storage

Pictures are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to gobbling up space on your iPhone. But the iPhone Settings has an option that allows your device to locally save smaller photo files if your device is running out of space instead of the original versions. Instead, these full-resolution photos and videos are stored in iCloud, and you can download them as needed. To make sure this feature is enabled, start by opening the Settings application. Then scroll down to Pictures and make sure there is a blue tick next to Optimize iPhone Storage option.

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Make sure your iPhone is as efficient as possible when it comes to saving media files.

Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

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Save photos and videos to a cloud service instead of your device

The best way to free up space on your iPhone is to delete files that you don’t need to store on your device. But that doesn’t mean you should reduce the size of your photo library. Instead, try storing them in a third-party cloud storage service like Google Photos rather than on your device. It’s a quick way to free up lots of storage space without forcing you to part with old memories.

But before you delete anything, make sure the photos you want to save have been backed up or transferred to Google Photos. If your photos and videos are not backed up to another service like Google Photos, Dropbox, Box or OneDrive before being deleted, they will be permanently erased. This guide tells you how to copy your entire iCloud Photo Library to Google Photos, but just note that the the unlimited free storage option is no longer available.

You might be wondering why you need to use a separate cloud service if your photos are already stored in iCloud. This is because deleting your photos from your iPhone also erases them from iCloud. So you will want to use another service if you plan to delete images from your device.

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You can try saving photos to a cloud storage app like Google Photos.

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Delete apps you no longer use

Another great way to drain your iPhone is to get rid of apps you no longer use. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at apps you haven’t used in a while. Open your iPhone Settings menu, touch General and go to iPhone Storage. You’ll see a list of your apps with the space each app takes up and the last time you used it. Scroll down and try deleting apps that you haven’t used in a long time.

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Get rid of apps you haven’t used in a long time. You can see the last time you used a specific app in the iPhone settings menu.

Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Offload apps you don’t use all the time

If you don’t want completely delete an app, you can unload it instead. Offloading allows you to keep documents and data associated with this application so that you can reinstall it at any time and quickly pick up where you left off. Go back to the list mentioned above by opening Settingsby pressing General and choose iPhone Storage. Tap any app in the list and select Download the app. You can also set your iPhone do it automatically when opening Settingsby pressing the App store option and ensuring that Offload unused apps the switch is on.

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You can offload apps you don’t use very often instead of deleting them.

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Automatically delete old messages

It’s not only Pictures, videos, and apps that can take up your iPhone storage. Get rid of the old text messages can also be useful. You can set your iPhone to automatically delete your message story by opening Settingsby choosing posts and pressing the Save messages option under Message history. From there, select whether you want your iPhone to keep text messages for 30 days, a year, or forever.

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Stop saving text messages indefinitely by changing this setting on your iPhone.

Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Delete app videos and music

You probably have videos and music stored offline in several apps on your phone, and luckily there is an easy way to find these files and delete them. Launch SettingsChoose General and select iPhone Storage. Look for an app from which you downloaded offline content, such as Netflix. You’ll then see storage information about the app, such as its size and buttons to delete or offload it.

If you downloaded offline videos, you will also see a section for this content under the Delete Application button. Place your finger on a downloaded video and drag it to the left side of the screen to delete it.

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There is an easy way to delete videos and music files you saved in the app to free up space on your iPhone.

Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

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Clear your web browser cache

You can always try to clean your Web browser cache if you’re really looking for space, although deleting apps and media makes a much bigger difference. But it might give your iPhone a bit of a speed boost when browsing the web, so it’s worth a try if you’re low on storage and slow browser performance. But remember that this will log you out of websites you have logged into.

Open SettingsChoose Safari and press Clear history and website data.

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Clear your Safari cache to see a performance boost and save some space.

Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

If you use Google Chrome, tap the three dots at the bottom of the screen, choose Story and press Clear browsing data. You should see a checkmark next to three categories: Navigation history, Cookies, site data and Cached images and files. If you only want to delete browsing data for a certain period of time, tap the Time interval option near the top of the screen before hitting Clear browsing data basically.

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You can also easily clear your Google Chrome cache within the app.

Screenshot by Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Looking for more iPhone tips? Check out our guide to best new features coming in iOS 16. More, here’s how to delete your iphone’s cache.

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