Since higher-capacity iPhone models add to the price tag of a phone that’s already expensive, lots of people opt for the version with the least amount of storage to save money.
But what happens after a couple of years? You’re still using the same device, but now you’re hitting its storage limits. And even if you have space to spare, you should still keep your storage organized. It will help you find everything quickly when you need it.
Bottom line: You need to learn how to manage the storage on your iPhone.
How to Check Your iPhone Storage
Before you start making any changes, it’s prudent to know exactly where you stand—how much memory have you used, and how much do you have left?
You can easily check the status of your iPhone storage. To get started, open the Settings app and navigate to General > iPhone Storage.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see a colorful bar with a category-by-category breakdown of what’s using up your storage space.
For example, in the image above, you can see that photos are responsible for the majority of used space on my device. The only other significant category is apps.
What you see in the bar should help to guide your next steps.
How to Manage Storage for Apps on iPhone
In iOS 11, you can control your storage for individual apps in a more granular way than ever before. Of course, the nuclear option of deleting the app is still available, but now you also have the option to offload apps.
Offloading an app will delete the app from your phone, but it will retain the app’s documents and data. This makes it quickly available if you ever decide to re-download the app in the future.
For apps that store data in the cloud—like Gmail and OneDrive—it might not make much difference. However, if you use a lot of local apps like games and productivity software, it’s a great way to reactively manage your storage without losing your data long-term.
To offload apps on a case-by-case basis, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. Next, scroll down to the list of apps and tap on the one you want to offload. Once the information screen opens, tap on Offload App.
Alternatively, if you want your iPhone to automatically offload apps when you get close to the storage ceiling, navigate to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and select Enable next to Offload Unused Apps.
How to Manage Photo and Video Storage on iPhone
We’ve already covered lots of the Photo app’s hidden tricks. However, when it comes to managing your photos’ storage on the iPhone, there are a few options left to discuss.
To see what’s available, navigate to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and tap on the Photos app.
You’ll see three options:
- iCloud Photo Library
- “Recently Deleted” Album
- Review Personal Videos
For each of the three entries, your phone will tell you how much space you can save.
The first option—iCloud Photo Library—will automatically save all your photos into the cloud and remove them from your device. However, you can only back up to iCloud, which is way behind its competitors when it comes to free space. For a better approach, check out the fantastic Google Photos app.
The second option will remove all old photos from your Recently Deleted album. This will save you a lot of space if you find yourself often deleting tons of memes and other clutter.
Lastly, you can review your videos. You iPhone will scan for video files and tell you which are taking up the most space. You can then delete them at your leisure.
Note: The longest videos aren’t always the largest file; it depends on what quality settings you used while recording.
How to Manage Contacts Storage on iPhone
Lastly, you can check out your contacts list.
Individually, each contact takes up a minuscule amount of space. However, if you’ve been in the Apple ecosystem for many years, your list of contacts could be huge. You probably have lots of old friends whose details are out of date, former colleagues from previous jobs who you will never contact again, and all manner of tradesmen and services you don’t need anymore.
It’s worth going through and deleting all the junk. Not only will it save you space, but you’ll also end up with a more refined, streamlined, and useful contacts list.
First, turn off contact syncing for any accounts you don’t need. That will instantly save some space. You can prevent contacts from syncing by going to Settings > Accounts & Passwords, tapping on the correct account, and sliding the toggle next to Contacts into the Off position. You iPhone will delete them without any further input from you.
To delete a contact that’s saved locally or synced via iCloud, use the following instructions:
- Open the Contacts app.
- Tap on the contact that you want to remove.
- Select Edit in the upper right-hand corner.
- Scroll down and tap on Delete Contact.
Use a Third-Party App to Manage Storage on iPhone
You can also use third-party apps to manage the storage on your iPhone. Here are three of our favorites:
iExplorer lets you move content from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod onto a PC or Mac using drag and drop. It’s a great way to manage storage across lots of different file formats without needing to fiddle with each one on a format-by-format basis.
Not only does it work with music, photos, and videos, but it also lets you manage the storage used by content such as voicemails, contacts, calendar events, reminders, notes, and more.
Download: iExplorer ($40)
iMazing sells itself as a backup and restore app that’s better than Apple’s native backup tools, but you can also use it to manage your iPhone’s storage.
The app works with backups, photos, music, ebooks, messages, contacts, and apps. You can move your content onto a PC or Mac and delete it off your phone’s storage.
Download: iMazing ($55)
iFunbox is the only of three apps that’s free.
It connects to a PC or a Mac via USB and allows you to manage your apps, photos, music, ringtones, videos, voice memos, and other multimedia files.
iFunbox also includes a tool that lets you use your iPhone as external storage; you can use it to carry important documents and other data that doesn’t naturally fit under an existing app’s umbrella.
Lastly, iFunBox will let users who’ve jailbroken their device browse the root filesystem.
Download: iFunBox (Free)
More Ways to Manage Your iPhone
The methods we’ve explained will help you manage your iPhone’s storage more effectively.
If you’re looking for even more tips, make sure you check out our tips on how to save space on your iOS devices.