iPhone Storage Almost Full? Here’s Why & How to Fix It (9 Tips Included)

Is this "Storage Almost Full" message appearing constantly on your iPhone? It doesn't matter whether you use the latest iPhone 7, 6, or classic iPhone 5. In this article, I'm going to show you how to get rid of the warning.

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?

You should check 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 services offered by Apple. You can learn more here.

What to do next?

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

Scenario #1: iPhone keeps saying storage almost full but it's not

If you have checked the 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 play your iPhone for some time, see if the message would show up. If it doesn't, great. Otherwise, try the next step.

Step 2: now check if your iPhone is running with 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, I highly encourage that you back up your iPhone data before proceeding. This can be easily done by using iTunes on your PC or Mac, check out this Apple support article for more info. Nevertheless, if you delete something and change your mind, you may restore the files by using an iPhone data recovery software.

1. Transfer your photos and videos

If you're like me who uses iPhone camera almost daily, chances are that most of the storage space is eaten by pictures you take. As camera technology improves, 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 store these media files is a great option too.

2. Clear the "Recently Deleted" folder

This tip applies to you if your iPhone is running iOS 8 or later (check which iOS version via Settings > General > Software Update). Many of us don't know that Apple has added a new feature called "Recently Deleted" since 2014. What does it do? It's like a Trashcan to recycle media items (photos, videos) you remove, to prevent accidental deletion.

Different from traditional Mac Trash, 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 how to recover deleted photos from iPhone for more. Anyway...the point is when you decide to delete photos to free up space, be sure to clean Recently Deleted as well. Yes, I know, it takes one more step, that's why The Telegraph called it an annoying feature.

How to find Recently Deleted? You 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, ditch them. The benefit of deleting those apps is that you could free up a few gigabytes (GBs) with every little effort. Plus, your home screen becomes less crowded.

How to find those heavy apps? Go to the Storage Management again (remember how? Settings > General > Storage > Manage Storage), Here you can see a list of apps with the 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 its icon from your iPhone Home screen, 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, 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, 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 much 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 long 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, scroll down and find 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, see this article how to recover iPhone messages for detailed instructions.

6. Clear all voicemails

Likewise, 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 storage space it took releases automatically.

It's not the case if your iPhone is with iOS 8 (or later). 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 on 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 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: 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, 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 head 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 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 any more, 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 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 iTunes cache can also help you release otherwise untouchable storage space. Every time you download a song or movie, the file 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 sign in again. How to do this on your iPhone? Simply launch 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

I hope you find this troubleshooting guide helpful in tackling the iPhone Storage Almost Full warning, which is annoying and you can't take new photos or download apps. Like I said, these days iPhone storage space is precious as it can be filled up much faster than before. If you use a classic 16GB iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 Plus, you could use up the space in days. Even with the latest iPhone 7, 32GB is not enough — see this CNET article that Jason Cipriani contributed where he said "may the 16GB iPhone rest in peace"...funny but true.

Influenced by the startup culture in the Silicon Valley, Jessica loves building things from zero to one and is keen on following news related to the Big Five tech giants and many SaaS startups.

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