Why is my iPhone not removing deleted items?
March 17, 2023 2:51 PM   Subscribe

I have an iPhone SE 2020 using 15.3.1. My phone has been giving me the "storage full" message for days. I've probably removed 20GB, but the number on my phone hasn't dropped. Restarting doesn't help. I was going to sync with my Macbook AIr, but since there's "no room" on the phone, I can't. The files I removed weren't one like "photos" that have their own trash. How can I fix this>
posted by mermaidcafe to Technology (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What do you see when you go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 2:53 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

Long ago on a much older phone, I fixed this by resetting to factory settings and restoring from a backup. Then the space all came back.

Obvs you’d need a recent backup for that to work.
posted by rd45 at 3:58 PM on March 17

What have you been removing off the phone? In my experience my old phone (not an iPhone) when it did that mostly was complaining about all the texts and possibly apps more than just photos.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:30 PM on March 17

Response by poster: What do you see when you go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage?

It still tells me the "full" size, like something that's a few MB from being full.

What have you been removing off the phone?

Took off all downloaded episodes of podcasts, photos in the photo library, and also photos in a camera app that took up a lot of space. I've reviewed large attachments and deleted most. Removed some large files from the "Files" folder.
posted by mermaidcafe at 6:26 PM on March 17

I know photos were only a small part of what was deleted, but within the current iOS for photos, when you delete images and videos from your photos album, they go into a secure 'recently deleted' folder at the base of the photos app page. So you'd then need to manually remove them from there too, much like your desktop recycle bin.

I would imagine there's something similar for apps and such too, maybe a restart may clear it.

I hope it goes well!
posted by many-things at 7:45 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yep, I do clear those files for photos
posted by mermaidcafe at 8:48 PM on March 17

Are you saying you deleted multiple podcasts, photos, and large attachments and the number hasn't changed?

When you go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage, what are the apps or items that are taking up the most space?
posted by Nickel at 11:11 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]

If you think an app has a lot of cached data or just files you don’t need, you could delete and then reinstall the app. This might be a way to force the data to be deleted if just deleting the data isn’t working.

You can also offload apps that you don’t use much.
posted by snofoam at 2:57 AM on March 18

Best answer: I don't know what caused it, but this happened to my iPhone (an older model) a few years ago. My storage just suddenly filled up, so I deleted stuff, and it immediately filled up again. I was on holiday at the time, so wasn't able to connect it to a computer for any extra insight or to offload photos.

I deleted the apps I'd installed the most recently, in case one of them was doing something it shouldn't, and signed up for iCloud storage to let the phone offload what it wanted to without losing anything completely. Between the two things, it sorted itself out enough to let me go back to using the phone normally.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:29 AM on March 18

Response by poster: I have removed apps and their data and that hasn’t helped.

At this point I don’t need to find more things to remove.

I’ve been stuck at 126.5 GB out of 128 GB for days.
posted by mermaidcafe at 7:14 AM on March 18

How can I fix this?

Even if you're out of the warranty period, you can call Apple's tech support for this since its their operating system that is acting weird. There's clearly something syncing in a weird way, probably part of the iCloud universe. If you're deleting stuff and that number isn't changing, that's Apple's issue. My best guess is that there's maybe a mostly-downloaded version of the operating system that is there waiting for install but something happened so it wasn't installed and now it can't install because there's not enough space.

Keep in mind that they will likely tell you to wipe/reinstall stuff on the phone, so instead of Syncing the phone you may want to back it all up (using the Finder) so you know you won't lose anything.

Also I'm not sure you 100% answered the question about what you see when you go to iPhone Storage. It should not just tell you how much space isbeing used but lower down on that screen it should tell you what is taking up that storage.

So go to this page, type "iphone storage" into the box, and then either chat with or call the tech support people. Weird OS issues are their problem after you've done basic troubleshooting.
posted by jessamyn at 11:49 AM on March 18

Response by poster: Thanks, Jessamyn! That bar shows that photos, files, and music take up most of the space. I don't have it with me to check exactly. I took off all the music and podcasts and a lot of bigger files and photos, so none if that is correct.

I had forgotten about the Finder. Thanks for that. It's backed up in icloud as well.
posted by mermaidcafe at 2:20 PM on March 18

Response by poster: Did a factory reset and that took care of it. Thanks all!
posted by mermaidcafe at 9:45 AM on March 19 [2 favorites]

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