Decluttering doesn’t just apply to your house — it can also apply to your phone. Freeing up space on your phone means you can make space for the new, whether it’s a new app, a new photo, or filming a new video. It also might help your phone run better and just overall improve your phone’s performance and speed. Now you might be wondering: how can I free up space on my phone? Here are a few ways to free up space quickly and efficiently, and make your phone feel brand-new.

5 quick ways to free up space: delete large photos & videos, delete unused apps, clear your cache, clear out saved media files, and delete message attachments

5 quick ways to free up space

  1. Delete large photos and videos
    Photos and videos are important files, but you don’t have to keep them on your phone indefinitely. Backup your photos and videos using Apple iCloud, Google Photos, Dropbox or some other kind of server to free space for new memories. Once they’ve been backed up, you can delete the old files from your phone. 
  2. Delete unused apps
    Deleting apps you don’t use helps your phone run faster, frees up storage, and makes room for the apps you actually need. Having too many apps can also negatively affect battery life, so make sure to periodically delete the ones you don’t need. You can see how often you use an app by looking under Settings > Battery on an iPhone or in the settings section on most Android phones.
  3. Clear your cache
    If you keep getting notifications that you’re running low on storage, your phone cache may be the culprit. See below for how to clear your cache.
    • How to clear app cache on iPhone
      • If you have an iPhone, you can clear your app cache by going to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. To clear out the app data, tap the app from the Storage screen and then tap Offload. Once the phone is done deleting everything, select Reinstall. 
    • How to clear app cache on Android
      • To clear the app cache on Android, pull down the notification shade, tap the cog, then select Storage. This will show you a list of all the apps on the phone and how much data they take up. To clear out app data, tap the app name and then tap Clear Cache.
      • You can also clear out your downloads folder if you use an Android. Open the Downloads app (also called Files on some devices), tap and hold the file name, and click on the trash icon to delete the file.
  4. Clear out saved media files
    Maybe you downloaded a bunch of episodes of your favorite show to watch on the go or a bunch of podcasts for your morning commute. After you’re done watching, listening or reading these files, clear them out using their individual apps to free up space.
  5. Delete message attachments
    Vacation photos from a friend, a meme from your kid or an important screenshot from your boss: all of these things take up storage space in your messaging apps. To free up space on an iPhone, go to your individual conversations, tap your contact’s icon, then scroll down and delete any attachments you don’t need. For an Android, find Files > Images or Videos and then scroll down to your Messages folder to erase unwanted attachments.
How to free up space on an iPhone: check for software updates, disable background refresh, turn off location services, restart iPhone, delete unnecessary apps, remove unnecessary documents

How to free up space on iPhone

  • Check for software updates
    Keeping your iPhone updated improves its performance, fixes bugs and just overall optimizes your device. If a new iOS version is available, make sure you download it. You can find the latest updates under Settings > General > Software Update.
  • Disable background app refresh
    Ever notice that Google Maps sends your ETA before you start driving? That’s because Google Maps, and most other apps, use background app refresh. Background app refresh allows apps to remain idle in the background in order to send alerts and periodically update. However, leaving these apps idle can drain your battery and use up tons of data, which is why it’s a good idea to disable it. Here’s how:
    • Open Settings and select General
    • Tap Background App Refresh 
    • Now you should see a list of every app
    • To disable refreshing for select apps, slide the switches to Off
  • Turn off unnecessary location services
    Many apps are constantly accessing your location and draining data — maybe even without your knowledge. This can absolutely drain your battery. Disable unnecessary location services by going to Settings > Privacy & Security. From there, you can disable all location services or change the settings for an individual app. 
  • Restart your iPhone
    While it won’t free up space, restarting your phone can help with any performance issues you might be experiencing.
  • Delete unnecessary apps
    That parking app you had to use once, that airline app you only downloaded for a single flight — all of us have plenty of unnecessary apps on our phone. Take the time to delete ones you’ll no longer need to free up space for the apps you actually use. You can do this easily by tapping Settings > General > iPhone Storage and selecting “Offload Unused Apps”. 
  • Remove unnecessary attachments 
    Similar to apps, a lot of us have a ton of large, unnecessary attachments from emails clogging up our phone. Tap Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Review Large Attachments to delete these unneeded attachments.
How to free up space on Android: use Android's free up space tool, install an SD card, turn on auto archive, and clear your cache.

How to free up space on Android

  • Use Android’s “Free Up Space” tool
    If you want to free up space on your Android device, you’re in luck — they come with a tool to do just that. Go to your phone’s settings, select Storage and then you’ll see a bunch of information on how much space is in use, as well as file categories. Tap the button that says “Free up space” and you’ll be taken to the Files app, which gives suggestions on things you can delete, including junk files, unused media, duplicate files and more.
  • Install an SD card
    A lot of Android phones have a microSD card. Installing an SD card gives you plenty more space for apps, photos and more.
  • Turn on Auto Archive
    Androids have a feature called Auto Archive that can be turned on in the Play Store. Just tap your profile picture and then select settings. From there, you can enable Auto Archive, which will archive any apps you rarely use.
  • Clear your cache
    As we mentioned earlier, to clear your cache, pull down the notification shade, tap the cog and select Storage. This will show you a list of all the apps on your phone and how much data they take up. Tap the app you want to clear the cache for, then tap Storage > Clear Cache. 

You’re ready to free up space on your phone

Now that we’ve answered the question of “how can I free up space on my phone,” you’re ready to start decluttering your device. Start clearing up space for new apps, new data — and all those new memories.