Manage iPhone Storage: Complete Guide To iOS 13

A persistent problem for iPhone and iPad users is data management. Whether it’s managing free space on your device or controlling how much iCloud storage

you’re using, , this article can help you. If you would like to know how to use the Files app to manage files

stored locally and in the cloud, read

this article


Control Device Storage

Storage Almost Full. There aren’t many iOS notifications more dreaded, because the onscreen instructions are unhelpful and it usually means you have to

delete something. When that happens, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage (or iPad Storage). There you see three things:

  1. How much space you have, how much is left, and a chart showing what’s taking up that space
  2. A list of recommendations for what you can do to quickly free up space. Here are some common recommendations:
    • Offload apps: Offloading an app, as opposed to deleting it, removes the app from your device, but retains its data, so when you download it again from
      the App Store you won’t be missing anything. To enable or disable it at any time, flip the Offload Unused App switch in Settings > iTunes & App Store.
    • Enable iCloud Photos and optimize storage: In Settings > Photos, turn on iCloud Photos to upload your photos in iCloud and then turn on Optimize iPhone
      Storage to store only small previews on the device itself, with the full-size images being stored in iCloud. Of course, this is a tradeoff since it takes
      up iCloud storage instead of device storage, but it’s much easier to upgrade iCloud storage.
      Tip: You can also free up space by simply deleting unwanted photos and videos.
    • Delete old Messages: You can tell iOS to delete old Messages after 30 days or one year in Settings > Messages > Keep Messages.
    • Enable Messages in iCloud: If you enable Messages in Settings > Your Name , that turns on Messages in iCloud, which stores your messages in iCloud instead
      of your device. That frees up local storage, but counts against your iCloud storage quota.
  3. A list of installed apps, along with how much space they’re taking up on your device. Tap on an app to see a screen showing how much space the app is
    taking up, as well as how much data the app is storing. You’re sometimes presented with the option to selectively delete data from the app instead of the
    entire thing. To delete an app, tap Delete App on the app’s screen. You can also offload an app from this screen, as discussed just above.

Manage iCloud Storage

Your iCloud account includes 5 GB of free disk space—located on Apple’s servers—for storing device backups, app data, iCloud Drive files, iCloud Photo

Library photos, email, and more. You can purchase up to 2 TB of total space—see the Apple article

iCloud storage plans and pricing

. You can also share that space with members of your Family Sharing circle in Settings > Your Name > Family Sharing > iCloud Storage. See

How to set up and use Family Sharing


To manage iCloud settings after signing in, go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud. A chart at the top of the screen shows how much of your iCloud storage

space has been used, and what’s using it.

There are a few different ways to reduce your iCloud storage usage, but the easiest way to do so is to go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage.

Each app and/or service offers different management options. However, they usually boil down to disabling that service and deleting all the related data.

Here are some specific, effective methods of pruning iCloud data:

  • If an abandoned device (like a replaced iPhone) has a backup taking up space, tap that device listing in Settings > Your Name and tap Remove from Account.
  • If an app is hogging iCloud space, open the Files app, go to your iCloud Drive, tap the app’s folder, identify the large file, touch and hold it, and
    then tap Delete from the popover. See
    Use the Files App
  • Clean out your iCloud mailbox in Mail.
  • Delete unwanted photos and videos from iCloud Photo Library.
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