There’s nothing worse than trying to capture a photo or back up your iPhone and seeing a message that you don’t have enough storage. Unfortunately, something like this can happen at the most inopportune time. Before it happens to you, look at these ways to get more storage on iPhone that won’t cost you a dime.
Can You Get More Storage on iPhone Without Buying It?
Unlike other devices like digital cameras or portable gaming consoles, you cannot expand the storage space on your iPhone using a memory card.
When you start running low on storage, you should remove items that take up the most space to make room for new items. This usually includes unused apps, message attachments, browser and app cache, and downloaded files you no longer need. You may even move things to a different storage location like photos and videos.
Head to Settings, select General, and tap iPhone Storage. You can then see a color-coded view of what takes up the storage space on your device.
How to Increase Storage in iPhone for Free
Very few things are free nowadays. But when it comes to getting extra storage on your iPhone, there are things you can do that don’t cost anything except a little of your time.
Method 1: Clear Your Browser’s Cache
A great place to start when you need to get more storage space on iPhone is to clear your Safari browser cache. The cache holds onto items like images, fonts, and style sheets from sites you visit. As you can imagine, these items build up over time and take up space.
- To clear your Safari cache, open the Settings app and select Safari.
- Choose Clear History and Website Data.
- Confirm by tapping Clear History and Data.
Method 2: Delete Your Apps Cache
Similar to your web browser, apps that you install contain a cache. Some culprits are social media apps like TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram where you see many photos and videos.
The process for clearing an app’s cache depends on the app itself. Here, we’ll use Facebook as an example.
- Open Facebook and select the Menu icon in the lower right corner.
- Scroll down to expand Settings & Privacy and pick Settings.
- In the Preferences section, tap Browser.
- Below Browsing Data, tap Clear next to Your browsing data.
Other ways to clear the cache for an app on your iPhone are to uninstall and then reinstall the app or look to third-party tools. Try to review apps that take up the most space on your iPhone and clear those caches.
Method 3: Offload Infrequently Used Apps
Many times, we download apps, give them a try, and then never open them again. They get forgotten but continue to take up storage space. Using the Offload Unused Apps feature, you can regain some space on your iPhone.
When you enable this feature, apps you rarely use are automatically removed, but their documents and data remain on your device. This allows you to easily reinstall the app with a tap.
- Open the Settings app and select General.
- Tap iPhone Storage and you’ll see Offload Unused Apps below Recommendations. (Note that you may need to tap Show All next to Recommendations.) You’ll then see how much space you can save by using the feature.
- Select Enable to turn it on.
If you prefer to offload specific apps instead, this is another option.
- In Settings > General > iPhone Storage, select the app from the list.
- Tap Offload App and then confirm by tapping Offload App once more.
Continue this process for any additional apps you want to offload.
Method 4: Delete Unnecessary Apps
The Offload Unused Apps feature is handy if you think you may want to reinstall an app later. But, if you have apps that you never use nor do you plan to, why not get rid of them altogether? This is one of the best ways to increase storage space on iPhone.
- To delete an app, long-press its icon on your Home screen or in a folder and choose Remove App from the pop-up menu.
- Confirm by tapping Delete App.
If you want to remove several apps, you can also put the icons into edit (jiggle) mode to delete them.
- Long-press an app you want to remove and continue to hold until you see all of your icons jiggle.
- Tap the minus sign in the top left corner of the app icon and then choose Delete App.
- Confirm by tapping Delete once more.
- Continue to use the minus sign for each app you want to remove. When you finish, select Done on the top right to exit edit mode.
Keep in mind that you can always redownload or restore the app should you decide to use it again.
Method 5: Clean Out Your Downloads Folder
Another spot on your iPhone that tends to fill up with unnecessary items is the Downloads folder. You might download a file or image, use it for what you need, but never remove it from that folder. Or, you may have temporary files that accompany other downloaded items.
- To review and clear your Downloads folder(s), open the Files app.
- For downloads in iCloud Drive, tap iCloud Drive and for downloads on your device, tap On My iPhone.
- Open the Downloads folder to review the files.
- Select an item you want to remove or for all items in the folder, tap the three dots on the top right, pick Select, and then choose Select All.
- Tap the Delete icon (trash can).
Method 6: Organize Your Photos & Videos
Photos and videos are some of the biggest storage space hogs on iPhone. With a couple of tweaks, you can minimize the space they consume.
With iOS 16, Apple introduced the Merge Duplicates feature. This allows you to combine copies of photos or videos that are exactly or close to the same. For instance, instead of five photos of the same subject, you’ll have just one.
- Open the Photos app and select Albums.
- Scroll down below Utilities and tap Duplicates. You’ll see all duplicates next to each other along with their sizes and dates.
- To merge one set of duplicates, tap Merge on the right.
- For all duplicates, tap Select on the top right, Select All on the top left, and then Merge (X) at the bottom.
- When the prompt appears, choose Merge X Copies or Merge X Exact Copies to confirm.
The pictures that Photos removes appear in your Recently Deleted folder. So, if you make a mistake, you can head there to recover a deleted video or photo.
Another way to add more storage to iPhone by manipulating photos is to store them in iCloud and then optimize them. By saving and optimizing your images in iCloud Photos, you can still access your media, but the high-resolution images and videos are stored in iCloud instead of on your device.
- To use iCloud Photos, open the Settings app and select your username.
- Tap iCloud and pick Photos.
- Turn on the toggle for Sync this iPhone.
- Further below, select Optimize iPhone Storage to place a checkmark next to it.
Using iCloud and the optimization feature, you’ll regain some of that much needed space on your iPhone.
Method 7: Remove Large Message Attachments
One of the coolest things about the Messages app is that you can quickly and easily share photos, videos, and files with your friends and family. But here again is another item that takes up space on your iPhone. By removing large attachments from Messages, you can regain some storage.
- Open the Settings app and select General.
- Tap iPhone Storage and you’ll see Review Large Attachments below Recommendations. You can see the size of these attachments and how much space you’ll reclaim.
- Tap Review Large Attachments to see the items which display with their individual sizes along with the dates.
- To remove the attachments, select Edit at the top and then mark the circle to the left of each one.
- Tap the Delete icon on the top right.
Method 8: Delete All Unimportant Data in One Go
When you’re desperate to get more storage space on your iPhone, you can take an extreme action. This includes backing up the important items on your device to iCloud and resetting your iPhone.
If you are willing to go this route, you must be extremely careful so that you don’t miss any crucial items.
You can back up only your necessary items such as contacts, messages, and important files while leaving out things like apps, cache, and downloaded files.
Before you begin the process, make sure that you have enough storage space in your iCloud account for the iPhone backup.
- To create the backup, open the Settings app and select your username.
- Tap iCloud and use Show All in the Apps Using iCloud section to choose the items you want to back up. You can select and turn on things like iCloud Mail, Health, and Passwords and Keychain and use the toggles for items like apps, Game Center, and Siri.
- When you finish selecting the items you want to back up, tap the iCloud arrow on the top left.
- Back on the iCloud screen, select iCloud Backup.
- Then, choose Back Up Now.
Once you see that your backup is complete, you can reset your iPhone and restore it from that iCloud backup.
- Tap the arrow on the top left until you arrive at your main Settings screen and select General.
- Scroll down and pick Transfer or Reset iPhone and then tap Erase All Content and Settings.
- Review the statement and items on the Erase This Phone screen, tap Continue, and follow the subsequent prompts to complete the process.
When your device restarts, you can then restore your iPhone using the iCloud backup you performed which installs only your chosen items.
Method 9: Utilize Third-Party Tools
One final free way to get extra storage on the iPhone is by using a third-party tool. Each of the following apps is available at no charge with basic features for cleaning up your device. You can also check out their additional features available via in-app purchase.
- Boost Cleaner: Regain storage space from photos, contacts, and files. You can find and remove photos by date or location, Live Photos, and those related to certain locales. Then, merge similar contacts, delete duplicates, and get rid of contacts without details. For files, you can locate and eliminate large, unneeded items.
- Phone Cleaner: Clean up your device and recover space from photos, videos, and contacts. You can compress large photos and videos, convert media to smaller sizes, and remove pictures and videos you don’t need. You can also review contacts and then eliminate or merge the duplicates.
- Smart Cleaner: Similar to the above tools, you can declutter your device of photos and contacts as well as other items. The app chooses the best photos on your device so you can get rid of those that are blurry or where the subject’s eyes are closed. Additionally, you can merge duplicate contacts, clean up calendar events, and clear the caches for Safari and apps.
How to Add More Storage to iPhone
If you find that the methods suggested earlier aren’t helping you free up enough storage space on your iPhone, you might consider getting more storage through iCloud.
With iCloud, you can store photos and videos, back up your device, save your passwords and keychain, hold onto Messages, and much more. For this reason, Apple offers iCloud+ paid plans for additional storage so that you can keep your most important items.
When you first sign up for iCloud, you receive 5 GB of storage space. But, you can opt for plans with 50 GB, 200 GB, or a whopping 2 TB of storage.
- To upgrade your current plan, open Settings, select your username, and tap iCloud. You’ll see the amount of storage you’re using in the graph at the top.
- Tap Manage Account Storage beneath the graph.
- You’ll then see the amount of space for your current plan next to Change Storage Plan. Tap this option to review available upgrades.
- Select the plan you want to purchase, tap Buy, and follow the subsequent prompts. Alternatively, if you have an Apple One plan, you can tap Change Apple One Plan at the bottom.
With these free ways to increase storage on iPhone, you can pick which one to use or try a combination of two or three. Then, see how much space you regain. Just remember to keep track of the storage space available on your iPhone before it fills up and you’re in a mad dash to get more.