Never Say Buy (more Storage)

You’re on your iPhone trying to send a photo or download a new podcast and you get the dreaded surprise that the action cannot be taken as you’ve run out of storage. Oops. It just happened to me this week. It seems to always happen when you’re in the middle of something important. Have no fear, there’s a super quick fix to do a mini “Marie Kondo” on your smartphone storage that will get you fully functioning again in 3 minutes.

How to Check your Remaining and Used Storage

Go to Settings .

Scroll down to General and tap to open.

Now scroll down midway to iPhone Storage and tap. You’ll get an image like that below. The yellow arrow shows where you can see how much of your storage you’ve used and how much there is in total. The difference is how much you have left. So in the example below, I have (paid for) 64GB and used 58.6GB. You’ll start getting messages and having actions blocked a bit before it’s fully used. (I’d already freed up about 5GB of storage before taking this screenshot.)

How to Identify What’s Hogging Your Storage

Right under the grey numbers, you can see in a bar graph which types of things are taking up your storage. On the above, Apps (in red) are taking the lion’s share with over half. The phone’s operating system itself is second, but we don’t want to touch that. Photos, including videos, come third.

Toward the bottom of the screen, you’ll see in rank order (largest to smallest) the particular apps that are responsible for taking up your storage. In my case it was painfully clear to be Overcast, which I use to store and listen to my favorite podcasts. I have a lot of favorites! Time to see what’s what. If you tick on the program (Overcast in this case), you’ll get a break-down. See below.

So with the App itself taking up only 5.7MB while the data stored within it (the actual podcast recordings) taking up 18.63GB (equalivalent of 18,630MB vs 5.7 for the app itself), it’s clear that there is a lot of opportunity to pare down the content without needing to delete nor offload the app itself.

How to Reduce Amount of Storage Being Used

Exit Settings and go to your Homescreen to find the App that’s hogging your storage (Overcast in this case). Open it and go to individual content pieces. Of course if you want to delete an entire program, that will be even faster, but we’ll assume here you want to keep it.

Identify individual programs you no longer need to keep, such as those already listened to. Remember in the case of podcast/films/videos that sit on platforms like Overcast, YouTube, Netflix, you can go back and search for it from the source and bring it back (assuming they don’t stop supporting it). On each individual program you want to erase, simply swipe left and tap the bin icon, usually in red, as shown below.

Check the New Storage Reading

In the case of podcasts, programs and videos, it won’t take that many erased in order to start to see progress on the amount of storage freed up. Deleting individual still photos may take more unless they are very high resolution. To check your new storage figures, go back to Settings>General>iPhone Storage (as above). Hopefully you should see a lower 1st number ie amount of storage you’re using. With just 3 or 4 podcasts erased, you can see below, we’ve freed up 0.6GB. Even if we’d started at close to maximum capacity, that would be enough freed up to allow us to send a few pictures or download another podcast. So just taking us 3 minutes or less to solve the issue.

Best Practice

Naturally, it would be best to avoid the dreaded “Storage Full” message in the first place. It would be healthy practice, in the spirit of Marie Kondo recommendations, to stay on top of things by doing a little at a time. Perhaps once a week during a non-driving commute or waiting in a line, you could take 2 minutes to do the above. I’ll pledge to do the same.

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