They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but when it comes to junk files on iPhone, there’s nothing attractive or enticing about them. They take up both storage and system space that you may need for more important items. Let’s look at what these files consist of and walk through several methods to clean junk files on iPhone.

Identifying Junk Files on Your iPhone

What exactly are junk files on iPhone? The items listed below are normally considered “junk.” Take a look at each item and its description to decide if it’s something you can remove.

App cache Apps like social networks and media streaming services store temporary files to load quicker and retrieve items faster.
Messages and attachments Old text messages and large message attachments you don’t need can needlessly consume space.
Photos and videos Duplicate or similar photos and videos along with those you no longer need take up space.
Downloaded files Files you’ve downloaded and either already used or saved elsewhere can often be safely removed.
Browser cache Similar to app cache, web browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox store caches for the websites you visit.
Unused apps Apps from Apple or third parties that you don’t need or have stopped using take up unnecessary space.
Duplicate Contacts While they don’t take up a significant amount of space individually, duplicate contacts can become annoying.

To check your storage settings and see what consumes the most space, open the Settings app, choose General, and select iPhone Storage.

View the graph at the top for a summary of used and available storage, the list of apps sorted by size, and the exact amount of System Data usage at the bottom. System Data includes items like caches, logs, and other resources.

iPhone Storage and System Data

Methods to Clean Junk Files Manually

Once you take a peek at your device storage, it’s time to clear the junk from your iPhone. If you’re ready to make room for the items you really need, here are several methods for de-junking your device.

Method 1: Restart Your iPhone

When you restart your iPhone, this removes the temporary files, or caches, that consume system storage. While the system data refills as caches are created and resources are needed, and your system normally takes care of temporary files itself, you can manually free up a bit of space temporarily.

Restart your iPhone using the steps below depending on your device model: 

  • iPhone X, 11, and later: Press and hold the side button (right) and either volume button (left).
  • iPhone 6, 7, 8, or SE (2nd or 3rd generation): Press and hold the side button (right).
  • iPhone 5 and earlier or SE (1st generation): Press and hold the top button.

When you see the restart screen, drag the power-off slider. Your iPhone should turn off after a few seconds.

Slider to power off iPhone

To turn your device back on, press and hold the side or top button until you see the Apple logo. 

Method 2: Clear App Cache

To clear the cache junk on iPhone without restarting your device, you can manually remove those temporary files created by apps. You’ll find that caches are normally used by web browsers, social media networks, media streaming services, and cloud-based tools.

To begin, Apple provides you with a way to clear the cache for Safari; just follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Settings app and select Safari.
  2. Tap Clear History and Website Data.
  3. Choose All History and All Profiles to clear all cache.
  4. Select Clear History.Clear History and Website Data in the Safari settings

For apps like Facebook, TikTok, Chrome, Firefox, YouTube, or others that use temporary files, you’ll need to check each app’s settings for a cache-clearing option. 

As an example, here are the steps to clear cache in the Google Chrome app:

  1. Open the Chrome app and tap the three dots on the bottom right.
  2. Select Clear Browsing Data.Clear Browsing Data in Chrome
  3. Optionally, choose a Time Range at the top of the subsequent screen.
  4. Choose Cached Images and Files along with any other data you’d like to remove. 
  5. Tap Clear Browsing Data at the bottom and again in the pop-up window to confirm.Clear Cached Images and Files in Chrome

Method 3: Delete Large Message Attachments

Large attachments your friends and family share with you via Messages take up space. You can easily remove these photos, videos, and files after you save those you want to keep.

Follow these steps to remove large message attachments:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap General.
  2. Choose iPhone Storage.
  3. Below Recommendations, select the option for Review Large Attachments. If you don’t see this option, select Messages in the list and you should see it there.
  4. You can then review all large message attachments and have the option to select each one for a detailed view.
  5. Delete the attachments by doing one of the following:
    • For individual attachments, slide one from right to left and tap Delete
    • For several attachments, select Edit on the top right, pick the attachments, and tap the delete (trash can) icon.Remove Large Attachments on iPhone

Method 4: Manage Your Photo Albums

One of the simplest ways to declutter your device of junk is by deleting duplicate photos. For instance, you may snap three or four photos of the same scene to make sure you get the perfect shot. Considering holding onto the best and deleting the rest using the Duplicates feature in Photos.

With this feature, you can review the sets of duplicate photos and then merge them to keep the highest quality pictures. The others are then moved to the Recently Deleted album in Photos.

  1. Open the Photos app and go to the Albums tab.
  2. Scroll down to the Utilities area and tap Duplicates. Note that you’ll see the total number of duplicates on the right.
  3. Review the sets of duplicates for those you want to merge. If necessary, you can select a photo in the set to see a larger view first.Duplicates album in Photos
  4. Choose Merge on the right to combine a set of duplicate pictures. 
  5. Tap Merge X Exact Copies or Merge X Items to confirm.Merge duplicates and confirm

Although this is the simplest method, there are more ways to remove duplicate photos on iPhone you can check out.

Method 5: Clear Your Downloads Folder

Once you download media or files and then work with them or save them, you may be able to get rid of the original downloads. You can review the items in your Downloads folder for those you can safely delete from your iPhone.

  1. Open the Files app and go to the Browse tab.
  2. Select iCloud Drive or On My iPhone depending on where you normally save your downloads. You can also delete downloads from both locations.
  3. Choose the Downloads folder.Downloads folder in Files
  4. Tap the three dots on the top right and pick Select. Remember, you can open any item for a closer look before you delete it.
  5. Mark each download you want to remove or use Select All on the top left for all files.
  6. Select the Delete icon (trash can) at the bottom to remove the selected items.Select and Delete in the Downloads folder

Method 6: Remove Unnecessary Apps

Have you ever downloaded a game you only played once or an app you decided you didn’t like? If so, it’s time to get rid of these space hogs that can easily be considered junk if you don’t use them.

To delete an app, long-press its icon on your Home screen and then, do one of the following:

  • Choose Remove App and then Delete App
  • Keep pressing the icon to enter jiggle mode. Select the minus sign on the top left corner of the icon and tap Delete App. Continue this process to remove additional apps and select Done when you finish. 

Confirm the removal by tapping Delete.

Remove App and Delete App on iPhone

Method 7: Delete Duplicate Contacts

To effectively clean junk files on your iPhone, one simple yet often overlooked method is to delete duplicate contacts. Although these duplicates don’t consume much storage space, they can clutter your contact list and cause confusion. Here’s how you can easily remove them:

  1. Open the Phone app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap “Contacts” at the bottom center of the screen.
  3. After a brief moment, your iPhone will identify the number of duplicate contacts you have.
  4. Tap “View Duplicates” to see the list of duplicate entries.
  5. You can then either tap “Merge All” to merge all duplicates at once or select specific contacts to merge individually.
  6. Finally, hit “Merge,” and you’re done. By following these steps, you can streamline your contacts and make your iPhone a bit more organized.

delete duplicate contacts iPhone

Use Software to Delete Junk Files on Your iPhone

If you find that your iPhone’s cleaning capabilities aren’t enough, you can use a third-party iPhone junk cleaner. Apps like those listed below can assist with photos, videos, caches, and more. For example, you can delete duplicate pictures using the built-in Photos feature on iOS, but the feature doesn’t help remove similar photos. 

These iPhone storage cleaners are three of the best on the App Store. They are each easy to use, offer a robust feature set, and provide options you won’t find on iOS as you’ll see in the feature lists. What I particularly like about each of them is their intuitive interface and navigation.

Cleaner Kit – Clean Up Storage

CleanerKit - Clean Up Storage

Formerly named Smart Cleaner, Cleaner Kit helps you remove similar photos and videos, duplicate or unnamed contacts, outdated calendar events, and more.

Notable Features:

  • Remove similar photos along with Live Photos, photo bursts, and screenshots
  • Compress large video files
  • Perform an iPhone speed test
  • Hide files in a private space

Cleaner Kit is available for free on iPhone with paid subscriptions starting at $4.99.

Cleanup: Phone Storage Cleaner

Cleanup - Phone Storage Cleaner

Another great iPhone junk cleaner is Cleanup: Phone Storage Cleaner. With it, you can remove duplicate and similar photos and videos, screenshots, and emails.

Notable Features:

  • Review similar photos to see the best quality images to keep
  • Add Home screen widgets to keep an eye on your storage and battery
  • Remove Gmail emails by category
  • Compress large video files

Cleanup is available for free on iPhone with paid subscriptions starting at $3.49.

Phone Cleaner: Clean Storage+

Phone Cleaner - Clean Storage Plus

Phone Cleaner: Clean Storage+ is another app to help you declutter your device. You can manage media, contacts, and cache with one handy tool and take advantage of the one-tap Clean feature for quick cleanup.

Notable Features:

  • Clear app and Safari cache
  • Remove duplicate and similar photos, videos, and contacts
  • Erase contacts with missing details
  • Back up contacts

Phone Cleaner is available for free on iPhone and iPad with paid subscriptions starting at $3.99.


Each of these methods helps you remove junk files on iPhone. From clearing caches and downloaded files to deleting duplicate photos and large attachments, all you need is a few minutes of your time. You’ll then regain storage space for new items like games, apps, videos, and pictures and keep your device running smoothly. Don’t let junk take over your iPhone — clean it up!

For more, look at these ways to get more storage on iPhone if a thorough cleaning doesn’t free up enough space.


Sandy Writtenhouse

Sandy Writtenhouse is an accomplished freelance writer with a dedication spanning over ten years to crafting comprehensive tutorials, informative guides, and software lists. Her expertise graces the digital pages of renow...

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Approved by
Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.