So our device lets you know that it’s almost running out of room to store all those pictures, videos, texts, and what not on your device. And being a good digital citizen, you pay attention and diligently back-up your photos and videos to your computer or another solution then delete them off your device to make room.
But it doesn’t work–your device still shows that its storage is almost full! What gives?
If every time you download an app or take a photo, you are always engaging in a delicate balancing act, hoping that you don’t get the dreaded “Storage is almost full” message., read on for tips on how to finally clear out all that storage and get your device working again!
- 1 Quick tips
- 2 Look at your Photos App Recently Deleted Album
- 3 Turn on Optimize iPhone Storage
- 4 Are photos from reappearing on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Turn off iCloud Photo temporarily
- 5 Restart or force restart AFTER deleting your photos and videos
- 6 Tips for storing your photos and videos
- 6.1 Tip#1 – Connect and external drive to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod and copy your photos and videos to that external drive
- 6.2 Tip# 2 – Upload your Photos to your iCloud account and then you download them to a USB stick for safekeeping
- 6.3 Tip# 3 – Tap on Settings > General > Storage
- 6.4 Tip # 4 – Ever wonder about the “Other” on your status bar that shows how much space is available on your device?
- 7 Wrap Up
Follow these quick tips to regain storage on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod after deleting photos and videos
- Make sure you remove all the photos and videos from your Photos App Recently Deleted photo album
- Toggle on Optimize Photos for your device’s iCloud Photos setting
- Restart your device after deleting items to free up storage
- Update your device’s iOS or iPadOS to the latest version–use iTunes or Finder if you have a computer
- How to backup your iPhone or iPad photos to an external drive with iOS 13 and iPadOS
- How to transfer your photos from iCloud Photos to Google Photos
- The Definitive Guide to iCloud Photos
- Quickly Free Up iPhone and iPad Storage in iOS Settings
- Taking Photo But iPhone Says Storage is Full?
- Free Up iPhone Storage with iOS Tools, Recommendations, and iCloud
Look at your Photos App Recently Deleted Album
As much as you want to keep all those selfies accumulated over the years, you know its time to let some of it go.
You delete all the photos and videos that you do not need in the hopes of getting back some storage on your iPhone only to find that your memory has not moved an inch. Many people have found themselves in this situation, and it can be very frustrating!
When you remove photos and videos from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, they aren’t really deleted immediately!
Instead, Apple puts them into a 30-day hold, just in case you change your mind or accidentally deleted those items.
- So go to Photos > Albums > Recently Deleted
- Select all the photos and videos
- Choose Delete All and delete them from there to truly free up your device’s storage
Just remember that when you use iCloud Photo Library and delete a photo or video from one device, it deletes that photo/video from on your other devices too
iCloud is above all a syncing service, so it adds and removes all the photos and videos from each and every iDevice you sign in to with the same Apple ID. That’s why it’s so important to save those photos and videos somewhere else first before you delete them from ANY device.
Turn on Optimize iPhone Storage
Another option, especially for folks that purchase iCloud Storage plans, is to keep a smaller compressed version of photos on your device and store the full resolution versions on iCloud. Apple calls this optimizing storage and it’s easy to turn on.
- Open Settings > Photos
- Toggle on Optimize iPhone Storage
When your device gets low on space, iCloud replaces your full resolution photos with these smaller, device-sized versions. And when you edit a photo, it automatically downloads that full-resolution version from iCloud, so you work with the best!
Are photos from reappearing on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod? Turn off iCloud Photo temporarily
If all the photos and videos you deleted reappear, it’s likely an issue with iCloud Photos. So try toggling it off.
Before you turn iCloud Photos off, make sure you back up all these photos and videos to your computer, an external drive, or another backup option, like Google Photos, Dropbox, or your photo/video backup method of choice.
Only after backing up should you turn off iCloud Photos on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad
- Go to Settings > Apple ID Profile > iCloud > Photos
- Toggle off iCloud Photos (also called iCloud Photo Library) and Upload to My Photo Stream
- For folks using iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos
We suggest you wait a few days and turn iCloud Photos back on, if you want to continue syncing between devices signed in with the same Apple ID.
Confused about iCloud Photos?
Okay, you are not alone!
To learn all about how iCloud Photos works, check out our The Definitive Guide to iCloud Photos in 2019
Restart or force restart AFTER deleting your photos and videos
When you delete items, including photos and videos, from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, they often just marked for deletion by your iOS and iPadOS. The actual removal happens when you power down your device and power it back on–in other words, restarting!
That’s why we always recommend restarting your device after making significant changes to your storage.
To restart an iPhone, iPad, or iPod
- On an iPad with no Home Button and iPhones X or later: press and hold the Side/Top/Power button and either volume button until the slider appears.
- On an iPad or iPhone with a Home Button and iPod Touch: press and hold the Side/Top/Power button until the slider appears
- Drag the slider to turn the device off and after the device turns off, press and hold that Side/Top/Power button again until you see the Apple Logo.
- With iOS 11 and above, restart using Settings > General > Shut Down
And if a restart doesn’t do the trick, try a forced restart.
To force restart your device, follow the directions below for your device and model:
- On an iPhone 8 or above and iPad without a home button: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side/Top button until you see the Apple logo
- On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo
- On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad with a home button, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo
Once you see the logo, let go of the buttons and allow your iPhone to start regularly. You should now be able to see your free storage
Check your device’s storage
After restarting or force restarting, check your storage again.
- Go to Settings > General > Storage and look at the graph
- Another way to check out on the open space equation is to connect your iPhone to your computer and use Finder (macOS Catalina+) or iTunes (macOS Mojave and lower) and check the device’s storage status bar
- You should see that the space for photos would now be much less
Tips for storing your photos and videos
Tip#1 – Connect and external drive to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod and copy your photos and videos to that external drive
This requires iOS 13 and above or iPadOS so update your device to at least those operating systems if possible.
Tip# 2 – Upload your Photos to your iCloud account and then you download them to a USB stick for safekeeping
Tip# 3 – Tap on Settings > General > Storage
- Review the list of apps along with how much storage they use
- Sometimes all you need to do is delete the app and re-install it
- You can also just offload the app but preserve your data if needed
- This often saves a lot of space on your iPhone!
Tip # 4 – Ever wonder about the “Other” on your status bar that shows how much space is available on your device?
You can use some of the tips on this article to deal with this issue.
The truth is that Apple needs to stop selling iPhones with under 100GB of memory and make the higher storage iPhone cheaper. Those of us that have the iPhones with less memory (like those older 1GB phones) know precisely what I’m talking about!
We hope that you can finally reclaim some of the space on your iPhone! Please share this article with others that may be facing the space issue on their older iPhones.
When faced with this situation, our first impulse is to prioritize the “stuff” that we have on our iPhone and let go of stuff that we don’t need anymore.
You start looking through the apps and deleting the ones that you have not used in years or months.
If you are in this difficulty, we suggest that you take a look at our comprehensive guide to free up storage on your iPhone. If using iOS 11 and higher, take a look at these handy tools to trim your iPhone and iPad Storage fat!
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.