Best way to free up ~1GB memory on my iPhone
September 26, 2017 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I have a 16GB iPhone 6 that's almost full. That's nothing new, but until recently, when it got this full, I've used a trick to free up memory, and now that trick doesn't work. I have a few ideas, but I'm not sure which to do, and how. Can I make the trick work again? Or is there an efficient way to identify and remove unwanted videos from Messages? And maybe to move wanted ones off the phone (but preferably not to iCloud)?

The trick I used to do is the one described here -- starting to download a video too big to fit, then cancelling when it says there's not enough room. It's worked a charm, gaining back up to a gig or so of space when needed. But the most recent time I tried it, I got charged for the video even though it couldn't fit, as the August update to that article notes. (I was able to get a refund.) Is there a way to make this trick work again?

If not, I see that my biggest memory hog is Messages, using >2GB. I do have them set to Keep Forever, and I'd like it to stay that way, but I bet there are lots of videos in there that I could delete, and even more so if I can store them elsewhere first. But, I'd rather not move them to iCloud, since the free amount there would get full pretty soon too (and I don't want to pay). Is there a good way to do this?

I've already moved my photos to google photos, and the other things I could easily part with aren't using much memory.
posted by daisyace to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you go to Settings -> General -> iPhone Storage -> Messages -> Review Large Attachments, you should be able to see the files taking up the most room. By tapping into each file, you get the typical iOS share sheet by tapping the button at the bottom, which would allow you to email it, send it to Dropbox, whatever. Then you can delete it. Might be a little tedious if you have eleventy-million files, but it should work.
posted by veggieboy at 6:54 AM on September 26, 2017 [6 favorites]

You've probably done it already, but most of the bundled apps are safe to delete if you never use them (iMovie, Garageband, etc.)
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:04 AM on September 26, 2017

Response by poster: veggieboy, I have 10.3.3, and don't see that... and can't update until I free up space. I have Settings -> General -> Storage and iCloud Usage -> Manage Storage -> Messages, but then no Review Large Attachments. And I have Settings -> Messages, but again no Review Large Attachments.
posted by daisyace at 7:17 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

, since the free amount there would get full pretty soon too (and I don't want to pay).

I understand this, but it's also $12 a year which is not really a stretch for most people. Certainly worth your peace of mind?

In any case 16GB is going to be tighter and tighter. I'd recommend backing up to iTunes then doing a full restore as new, then restoring from the backup. This will clear any lingering "junk data" like your mentioned trick would, and it will also remove old synced data that you're not using anymore.

Be aware that with 16GB, you're only getting about half of that after OS space, and some apps easily eat a quarter of a gig at this point. You're going to see diminishing returns here.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 7:26 AM on September 26, 2017

If you use the facebook and messenger apps, uninstall and delete them and use Friendly instead. That'll give you about a half gig.
posted by phunniemee at 7:37 AM on September 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have the same phone and had no space, and did erase all content and settings from general->reset, then backed up from icloud last weekend, and freed up 4GB of space.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:40 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can manually find the videos in your Messages app. Find the person you exchange videos with the most and go through your entire conversation history. iCloud gives you 5 free GB, so you wouldn't fill it up even if you put all of your videos in there today. Better, put them in Google Photos or Flickr.
posted by soelo at 8:29 AM on September 26, 2017

If you have the Pandora app, make sure it's not set to store anything for offline listening. Also if you've opened documents via the Dropbox app, delete and reinstall it to clear those out of memory.
posted by lakeroon at 9:12 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I remember my dismay when that trick didn't work anymore. But here's a new one! Instead of trying to rent movies, try to download a (free) large app such as Hearthstone. Hit "Retry" when it fails to download a few times to maximize effectiveness. Sometimes it'll even clear up enough space to actually start downloading it, but of course then you can cancel/delete it. (Or keep it, if you're into Warcraft card games? I'm not sure what the app really is, but I fake-download it like once a month.)
posted by eyeball at 9:28 AM on September 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm looking at this on the newest iOS so this may not help if you're cleaning up in order to upgrade, but the past version of the screen is also useful:
Settings > General > iPhone Storage

The apps will be listed in order of space used and, on the Apple ones, will give you the option to manage some file usage right on that screen. Third-party apps will likely require you to go into them to clear caches and remove files, but you'll get an indicator of what's using space. Deleting apps and reinstalling is the worst case scenario for clearing cache.

The newest iOS, if you have it, lets you offload unused apps and auto-delete old conversations from the device. If it's really a matter of your core media use (Music, Photos, Videos) taking up all the space, then it's going to be a matter of diminishing returns to keep bumping caches. All the file download trick is doing is going through the same list and enforcing the app rules to clear caches. Misbehaving apps might not surface the ability to clear those files in the Settings dialog or in-app.
posted by mikeh at 9:36 AM on September 26, 2017

Can you convert music to a lower bitrate?
posted by mermaidcafe at 2:08 PM on September 26, 2017

Thanks eyeball! I just freed up almost a gig of room in my phone!
posted by Valancy Rachel at 6:37 PM on September 26, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks all! I started with eyeball's trick, to great effect, and I may circle back to some of the others, as I've learned that installing the iOS update requires more than 2GB free (gulp).
posted by daisyace at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2017

Best answer: If you use iTunes on a computer that you trust, you don't need space on your phone to upgrade to iOS 11.0.1 as long as you have free space on the computer.
posted by soelo at 8:35 AM on September 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

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