It’s a New Year baby.
Let me guess, you have a new haircut, resolutions to maintain a new, fitter body, and heck, you probably even plan on buying some new clothes to round out the beginning of the year?
But let me ask you this seemingly silly question: have you ever considered making a New Year resolution for your smartphone?
How many daily hours do you apportion to your smartphone? According to a 2014 report from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (“KPCB”), the number of screen minutes devoted to smartphones is becoming globally ascendant. In fact, mobile data traffic is accelerating and everyone is becoming inextricably connected to their phones.
Given the amount of time we spend on our phones, doesn’t it make sense to make sure they are in tip-top condition?
We buy trendy cases to protect our phones from tumbling down the stairs but how often do we purge the crap apps and foolish photos that furtively steal space from our devices?
In this guide I’m going to make a New Year’s resolution for you and then show you how to instantly keep it. That’s right, we’re starting the year off in stride with tips for cleaning up space on your iPhone.
Let’s do this.
Before we get started there’s one word, one thing that you must unequivocally embrace if you want to clean up space…
Here it is… drum roll please…
Saving stuff to the cloud is the smart thing to do in 2015.
By saving to the cloud, I mean uploading your photos and videos to a central source such as Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox.
Using the cloud has the serendipitous effect of automatically backing up your files and instantly liberates your iPhone from the strictures of on-device storage.
That being said, let’s explore five of the best ways to free up space for your iPhone.
1. What’s sucking up my space?
First, we need to identify your most rapacious items. Photos and videos are the usual suspects and so in your court of law they should be guilty until proven innocent.
But hey, let’s see if we can exonerate them.
Tap your happy thumbs over to Settings. Flick down to General, choose Usage and hit up Manage Storage.
You’ll immediately see the sum of your storage at the top of the screen.
On a side note, that number will never equal the advertised capacity of your phone. This is partially because Apple coerces us to use apps that can’t be easily removed.
For example, when I brought my 64GB iPhone Plus, my available space was actually less than that advertised amount etched into the back of my phone.
I guess calling it a 55.4GB iPhone Plus doesn’t sound as sexy right?
Anyway, back to what I was talking about…
Manage Storage displays items with the largest appetites and in many (but not all) cases, it lets you delete those apps by simply tapping the app name from the list.
So the first step to cleaning up your iPhone is perusing the list here and deleting the apps you don’t need.
For example, I’ve got some stupid game called Asphault8 on my phone consuming almost 2GB of space. I’ve never use this game; therefore, I don’t want it.
Tapping the app will give you options to delete both the game and the data linked to it.
Finger slap Delete App and Bam! Space relinquished!
But what if you march through the list, terminating hungry apps and cleaning up your device but discover you are still running short on space?
In my example, you can see Photos & Camera is consuming an inordinate amount of space so let’s start here.
2. Fumbling your photos
My wife and I just had our first kid last November.
I remember lampooning all her friends on Facebook who posted mundane photos of their kids sleeping in a bassinet or dragging toys across the room but now… I’ve become the person I chided! I can’t help it. I take copious pictures of my son and since my Nikon D7000 is too bulky to carry around, I often rely on my iPhone to capture the moment.
Using my phone for photos is usually great but the problem is that my camera roll quickly fills often without my knowledge. Soon, I’m fumbling over which photos to delete or keep because I’m starving for space. The smart way to avert this problem is to use the backup functions endemic to iTunes and iCloud.
iProud of iCloud
Think of iCloud like 5GB of free storage that you can access anywhere you have an internet connection. You can use this for iCloud Backup so that all your videos, movies, music, apps, books, messages, settings, photos and shows are all backed up to one convenient data vault.
After backing your stuff up to iCloud you can start removing photos from your device, saving them to your computer or an external hard drive.
To get started, just tap over to Settings, flip down to iCloud and sign in with your Apple ID.
Once inside you can have iCloud backup all your photos with a simple swipe.
When you need to access them from the web, just sign-in to iCloud.com with your Apple ID and manage them that way.
You can also backup your iPhone to iTunes.
I’ve configured my iPhone to automatically backup to iTunes but if you select This computer from the Backups section in the right pane, you’ll backup everything stored on your iPhone to your computer.
After confirming that your photos and videos are actually backed up to iCloud (or to your local computer if using the This computer option in iTunes), you can then delete the photo frenzy from your phone. Just be extra circumspect here: you want to make sure you really backed it up before you make that irrevocable decision to delete.
Incidentally, if you ever deleted photos you needrf to recover, you can sometimes use PhotoRec on an Jailbroken iPhone to get your photos back. It’s an advanced process but it’s a demonstrable way to reclaim your photos in a pinch.
Maybe I’ll write an article about that one day.
3. Destroy The Others.
I’m making a slight allusion to the Alejandro Amenabar movie of the same name starting Nichole Kidman.
Man, I’m distracted too easily, back to your iPhone…
Have you ever connected your iPhone to iTunes and peered into the enigmatic Other category of your storage meter?
What exactly comprises “Other” and how do you delete the stuff in there? Is it even safe to delete the stuff in there?
So here’s the deal: the Other category comprises all your cache data from your web browsers, vestiges that Siri uses to do here thing and old voicemail messages.
The cache is basically all the stuff your browser accumulates as you surf the web. Think of it like the dirt accrued on your tires after a long trip.
Killing cached crap
That’s a rough description how it works but sometimes all that accrued cache will slow and crash your phone. It can also consume precious space which we need to clean.
To dump Safari’s cache, tap over to Settings and scroll down to Safari and tap Clear History and Website Data.
You should also check your bookmarks to make sure you don’t have stupid stuff in there vexing the browser.
To banish bad bookmarks, open the Safari app.
Touching the bookmark icon at the base of the screen (second from the right) enables you to swipe-delete the dross into oblivion.
The bad news is if you have copious bookmarks, you might find yourself ruing the day you added all those sites to your reading lists…
In Chrome it’s a little different.
Tap open the app, hit the hamburger icon between the location bar and the tabs icons in the upper right corner of the screen.
Now, go down to Settings, hit up Privacy and touch Clear all under the Clear Browsing Data section.
Giving Siri amnesia
To nuke your Siri questions history and other cache thingies, tap over to Settings. Click the General tab, jump down to Siri and swipe her off.
Then turn her on.
That’s what she said! hahaha okay back to serious stuff…
Abolishing stale voice messages
You should do the same thing for the voice messages that you no longer care about.
You can get a handle on your messages by tapping the Phone app and choosing the Voicemail icon at the far right of the screen. Now you can remove your old stuff by swipe-deleting them in the same way you removed your Safari bookmarks earlier.
4. Clear up your email
Make sure your Mail Days to Sync value has a limit or else you could paralyze your inbox and waist prodigious space on your device.
If it’s set to No Limit, change it to something more reasonable like 1 Month. I set mine to No Limit because I like searching my inbox history from the beginning of time.
The bad news is that this could become an issue if my iPhone gets famished for space in the future.
5. Make your phone file Chapter 11
Ultimately, when all else fails sometimes you just need turn over a new leaf; get a fresh start; welcome a new beginning.
Excuse my boring platitudes but I think it’s apt for what I’m introducing next:
Doing a full phone wipe and reset.
Any items purchased from the iTunes store should still be available by pressing Alt + s + c in iTunes. This niffty key combo forces iTunes to check for purchases to download so you can put them back on your pristine iPhone. Conversely, if you’re using iCloud then you don’t even have to worry about that because your apps will be available for download in the App Store.
So how do you reset your iPhone?
Buried deep inside the bowels of your iPhone is a metaphorical “red switch” that kills everything.
If you go to Settings and the General section you’ll find a benign option at the bottom called Reset.
Hit that and choose Erase All Contents and Settings.
Now you can restore what you need from your iTunes or iCloud backup and avoid mind numbing apps like Kim Kardashian Holywood.
The Bottom Line
It’s a new year and it’s time to make your old phone feel new again.
Cleaning up your phone is one of the finest ways to do that.
In this article I showed you five steps to new phone nirvana.
- Viewing your storage so you can remove useless apps
- Syncing photos and videos to iCloud so you can remove them from your device
- Cleaning out The Others category but zapping your browser cache, bookmarks, Siri messages and voicemails.
- Restricting the number of days to sync email
- Going ape and blasting the phone with the Reset command
I hope I’ve gotten your phone off to a clean start this year.
If you were able to clean up some space using any of the tips I shared, please let me know in the comments. I want to feel like I’m making a difference.