How to Fix It When iPhone Storage is Almost Full

Do you keep seeing this annoying “storage almost full” message on your iPhone?

It doesn’t matter whether you use the latest iPhone or an old one, this notification could pop up on your device screen any day especially when you take lots of photos or videos.

In this article, I’m going to show you several ways to get rid of the annoying pop-up message.

But First, Why Does The Message Show Up?

You probably know the reason. Yes, it pops up when your iPhone is running out of space. If you try to take a photo, it says “Cannot Take Photo” because there is not enough available storage.

Likewise, you can’t download any app either…what a bummer!

Wait, is that really true?

You have the impression that your iPhone should have some free space because you didn’t save much stuff.

What to do?

Check iPhone Storage Usage

Here’s how:

On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage.

Under the Storage tab, you can see how much space is used and how much is available.

Even further, you can get a detailed overview of what’s taking up the most space. Just tap the “Manage Storage” option, and here you go:

Note: you may notice the iCloud Storage option underneath Storage, don’t get confused as iCloud storage is totally different from your iPhone storage. The iPhone storage almost full warning has nothing to do with iCloud. iCloud is a premium cloud storage service offered by Apple.

What to do next?

Due to the complexities of the issue (many iPhone users reported that the Apple iOS system shows the wrong warning even if there is some free storage space), I’m here to separate the solutions into two scenarios. Go with the one that fits your situation.

Scenario 1: iPhone Keeps Saying Storage Almost Full But It’s Not

If you have checked Storage Management and it clearly shows that you have a decent amount of space available, but the message still appears.

Try the steps below:

Step 1: Restart your iPhone. Hold the power button (on top of your phone) for several seconds, tap “slide to power off.” Then press the button again to turn it on.

Now use your iPhone for some time, and see if the message would show up. If it doesn’t, great. Otherwise, try the next step.

Step 2: Check if your iPhone is running with the latest iOS version. You can do so by going to Settings > General > Software Update. If there is a newer version, tap “Download and Install” to update your iPhone.

Why could this help? I don’t know, honestly — I tried once and it just worked. Some fellow iPhone fans say this is a bug; I’m not quite sure since Apple hasn’t officially said so.

Is the storage almost full message still appearing? If so, you’ll probably need to free up more storage space. Continue reading for more tips.

Scenario 2: iPhone Does Not Have Enough Space (9 Tips to Free Up More)

First things first — in case anything goes wrong, back up your iPhone data before proceeding. This can be easily done by using iTunes on PC or Finder on Mac, check out this Apple support article for more.

If you delete something and change your mind, you may restore the files by using iPhone data recovery software.

1. Transfer Your Photos And Videos

If you’re like me who uses the iPhone camera almost daily, chances are that most of the storage space is eaten by pictures you take.

As camera technology improves, the quality of images and videos increases but the files become much larger and higher-resolution, thus your iPhone is being filled up more quickly than ever before.

What do you do? Transfer your photos and videos to the Cloud or your computer.

If you have a Mac, the easiest way is to connect your iPhone and sync all media items and delete the original ones from your phone (see the video below).

You can also upload them to an online storage service such as iCloud (recommended option), Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

If you are old-school, using an external drive to back up these media files is a great option too.

2. Clear The “Recently Deleted” Folder

Recently Deleted is like a trash bin to recycle media items (photos, videos) you remove. Different from traditional Mac Bin, the Recently Deleted folder only keeps items for up to 30 days before they are automatically removed by iOS — though not permanently, as you can retrieve them by using a recovery tool. See this article for more.

When you decide to delete photos to free up space, be sure to clean Recently Deleted as well.

How to find Recently Deleted? Open the Photos app, at the bottom tap “Albums”, scroll down, and locate that folder with a trash icon. Tap on it, select all items, and hit “Delete All” in the left corner. That’s it. Now the space those files took should be released.

3. Remove Unused Apps and Their Associated Data

This is pretty straightforward and obvious. There are bound to be apps that you installed and only used once or twice, delete them.

The benefit of deleting those apps is that you could free up a few gigabytes (GBs) with very little effort. Plus, your home screen becomes less crowded.

How to find those heavy apps? Go to Storage Management again (remember how? Settings > General > Storage > Manage Storage), here you can see a list of apps with accurate info about how much space they’ve taken. Thanks to Apple, it sorts those apps based on file size.

So you save time locating the “culprits”. Removing a third-party app is also quite easy. Just tap and hold on to its icon from your iPhone Home screen, and wait for it (and other app icons) to jiggle.

Then tap on the X in the left corner to delete the apps you no longer need. This will also get rid of the documents and data associated with them.

4. Clear Safari (Or Other Browsers) Cache and History

If you are used to surfing the Internet via Safari or Chrome on your iPhone (because you have an unlimited data plan…lucky for you), beware that your phone may be storing caches, web history, and other data that you do not need. And they might occupy some precious space.

Fortunately, cleaning them is as easy as making a few taps.

For example, to clear Safari browsing data, simply go to Settings, and scroll down to locate Safari, below the “PRIVACY & SECURITY” tab you’ll find an option called “Clear History and Website Data” in blue color. Tap it, and confirm in the new window.

Note: the clearing will remove history, cookies, and other browsing data. Only perform this operation if you are sure what you are doing.

5. Delete Messages (With Caution)

Messages on your iPhone can take up a lot more space than you thought. By default, the iPhone stores all your received and sent messages forever unless you delete them manually. However, you may no longer need these old messages once they get read. Deleting them could save you a lot of space.

Deleting messages might sound like a long process, but it’s actually not.

You can kill them quickly by letting your iPhone purge any messages that have been on the device for longer than a given period, i.e. 30 days or 1 year. The whole process takes less than a minute.

You do this by going to Settings, scrolling down, and finding Messages, under MESSAGE HISTORY > Keep Messages (by default, it shows “Forever”). Now select the period you prefer. For example, if I select “30 Days”, it says:

“This will permanently delete all text messages and message attachments from your device that are older than 30 days.”

If this removes some messages that you want to look back on, see this article for how to recover deleted iPhone text messages.

6. Clear All Voicemails

Voicemails could also be taking up much storage space, especially if you are a business person who receives tons of calls every day. You may think when you delete a voicemail message, it is gone, and the storage space it took releases automatically.

Similar to the Recently Deleted folder trick, voicemails aren’t really deleted. Instead, they are moved from a queue — surprising, right? Here’s how to really delete voicemails for the sake of releasing space.

On your iPhone, tap the Phone icon, then Voicemail in the right corner. Tap Edit, select all voicemails you’ve read, and hit Delete. Now pay attention to the “Deleted Messages” at the bottom, tap on it, and select “Clear All”.

7. Turn Off My Photo Stream

The tip applies to those of you who have signed in to iCloud on your iPhone. My Photo Stream is a feature that automatically uploads new photos and syncs them across all of your iCloud devices when connected to Wi-Fi.

While the feature is great for photo backup and access purposes, it can be a space-consuming machine.

My advice is that if you have implemented a solid backup plan, go ahead and tuff off Photo Stream. Yes, this will delete photo streams on your iPhone, but you’ve got copies elsewhere (like your iPad, Mac, etc.).

Here’s how to do it: go to Settings > iCloud > Photos, see My Photo Stream? If the button shows green, that means it’s enabled. To disable it, just tap on it and choose “Delete” to confirm.

8. Manage Apple Mail App

I was a heavy user of the Apple Mail app, on both macOS and iOS. Realizing that the Mail app can take up gigabytes of storage space, I deleted many email accounts from my iPhone.

To check how much space your iPhone’s Mail app is using, open the Settings app and go to General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage, scroll down in the list, and locate the Mail app.

Here you see how much space is taken by “Mail and Attachments.”

How to manage the Apple Mail app and free up some storage? You have two options, the first yet time-consuming one is manually reviewing and deleting emails you don’t need anymore, especially emails with attachments.

I don’t encourage you to do this because if you use IMAP for your email (which you probably do), any emails you delete from your iPhone will be deleted from the server as well.

A better solution is to remove accounts and re-add them later (if you want). This will discard all those offline copies of emails and help regain additional free space.

To do this, go to Settings > Mail > Accounts, tap the name of your email account, and hit “Delete Account” to remove the account from your iPhone.

Depending on your preference, you may add them back in the same place.

9. Flushing Out iTunes Cache

Cleaning the iTunes cache can also help you release otherwise untouchable storage space. Every time you download a song or movie, the file is stored in a cache that iTunes manages except the fact that iTunes doesn’t manage that cache. Therefore, things fill up with no way of removing them.

Fortunately, cleaning the cache is as easy as signing out of iTunes and signing in again. How to do this on your iPhone? Simply go to Settings > iTunes & App Store, tap your Apple ID, and tap “Sign Out”.

Now go back to the same place and sign in again. That’s it.

Final Words

Do you find this troubleshooting guide helpful? I hope you have resolved the iPhone storage almost full warning, which can be annoying and you can’t take new photos or download apps.

As I said, these days iPhone storage space is precious as it can be filled up much faster than before. If you still use a 16GB iPhone, you could fill up the disk space in days or weeks.

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  • Alejandro Contreras

    Yes!!! Thank you!!! Signing out and in again from iTunes on my iPhone 5C did it, I gained 5 GB of free space, now iTunes and Storage show the same available space. I guess it was all cached music.

  • Nancy Wilson

    7/19/20 – Your final comment about the 16 G resting in peace makes sense to me now, as my storage has magically kept running out the more I delete – really wishing I’d opted for the 32, it was only 4 yrs ago! Thanks……super easy step by step instructions

  • Ahmed Ashraf

    Hi Jessica
    I got an old iPhone which I bought the day it was available for sales when I was in Singapore. Yes it’s an iPhone 6S Plus, with 128GB storage and additional 50GB subscription on my iCloud. I had nearly 8K pictures and several long videos. And some conversations with my partners since the phone was bought. Recently during the Covid-19 pandemic, I started getting the notification and what I did was quite different. And fortunately it was successfully concluded. When I received the notification, I merely had less than 2GB’s left in the storage.
    I backed up the entire iPhone data into a PC via iTunes and did a full reset of the iPhone. And then recovered everything back into the iPhone. Now I’ve got exactly the same iPhone with all the data but without the notification. And the storage available in iPhone is 110GB+

  • Gilfred

    Thanks Ms. Jessica,

    I discovered Apple iPhone has a serious bug!

    Whenever I delete recordings in app Voice Memo, the iPhone
    Storage (under Settings) showing the ‘System’ storage size
    increases drastically. If the deleted recording is in Gigabyte size
    then the ‘System’ storage size also increases in Gigabyte size.

    So my iPhone storage decreased drastically because of
    ‘System’ storage increases proportionately to fill up my iPhone


    I’ll try some of these.

  • Connie

    Hello. I have done all the tips to reduce storage. Here is what I am encountering— Notes app on iPhone are all on iCloud but taking up about 7 GB, and then the System is about 7GB as well. When I Offload the Notes app, the System increases to 14+GB so I am in the same situation with iPhone storage being full. So tired of this back and forth, I deleted the Notes app, and the system is still 14+GB. It may be important to note that on my iPad the Notes app only takes up 2.77 MB. I have previously on 2 occasions done a complete star at over as if it was a new phone. Any suggestions.

  • Florence Markey

    tried all of the tricks but to no avail . iphone storage shows 12.4 of 16GB used but still says iPhone storage full?

  • joe

    Hi Jessica,
    I guess it is an old article but it helped me to fix that annoying message (my mail just continued to explode and all I’ve tried to do by deleting mails did not help).
    Thx a lot,

  • Decano

    My solution was to toss the iPhone in the recycle bin and switch to an Android. MUCH BETTER!

  • Carrie

    Great, Jessica! Really clear instructions that I was able to follow the first time, thanks to your images!

  • Rich

    Hi, u mentioned using iCloud as preferred option for storing photos. How do we do this pls?

  • Karen McGrath

    Thanks for these awesome, easy to follow tips Jessica!

    • Avatar photo

      Hi Karen, thanks for your feedback. Glad you found the article helpful.