Just the other day my one-year-old son, Will, stood up and looked like he was ready to take his first step. Despite this being my 4th child these milestones NEVER get old. Like any good modern parent I grabbed my iPhone, ready to capture the moment if he decided to go. I flipped up the camera then saw this, “Cannot Take Photo, Not Enough Available Storage.” What!!! I don’t have time for this. I frantically went into my Camera Roll and deleted 10 pictures of my 4 year old’s thumb. I cleared up just enough space, but Will decided he wasn’t ready for the next big step and crawled off. Regardless, I sat there a little confused. It was a fairly new phone and I am pretty good about deleting the bad photos out of the Camera Roll. I needed to figure out what was sucking up all my storage.
There are a couple of typical items that chew up most of your iPhone data. We are going to look at the most common and find out how to fix the problem. I am sure it is no surprise to you that media (photos & video) are typically the main culprit of storage hogging. But you may be surprised to see where they can hide out!
Just like going into the doctor, the first step is to look at all the health of the phone. Go to Settings > General > Usage. Wait for this area to load, it can take a minute, especially if you are having space issues. Once every thing has loaded you can see exactly how much space photos or apps are chewing up. Here is the one that can surprise people, Messages. This may not be the case for you, but many people are losing a ton of space to their Messages usage. We’ll cover more about this in the Message section. We are going to look at the three most common issues: Photos, Messages, and Apps.
You are probably fairly familiar with your photos app. There is a Camera Roll, Photo Stream, and any additional albums. The first step is keeping your Camera Roll as clean as possible. I know I harp on this issue, but your photos are your own personal museum, be sure to be the curator of it. This means DELETE. Get rid of the photos that aren’t any good. Just go ahead and delete those on your phone. If you have your iCloud/Photostream linked up with your iPhoto on your computer you should receive all your photos into a photo stream event automatically. While I would say this works 90% of the time I am not convinced. The best way to ensure you keep everything you want is to plug your phone into your computer. In addition, your videos are NOT transferred over via the Photo Stream. You want to make sure those are brought over as well.
Go ahead and plug your iPhone into your computer (for this post, I will assume you are using a Mac). Your iPhoto should pop up and identify which photos are not already in your library. It should also recognize duplicates and skip them. Once you do this you will be prompted with the question whether to keep or delete the photos on your device. Now that they are on your computer you want to delete them off your device to clear up space.
Now inevitably whenever I go through this process I look down at my Camera Roll and there are still some random number of photos/videos that didn’t seem to get pulled over in the transfer and also didn’t get deleted. Time to bring out Image Capture. Image Capture is one of those great hidden Mac Applications. In fact, a lot of the time I like it even better than iPhoto.
Go to Finder > Applications > Image Capture, with your device plugged in you will see your photos and videos listed out. You have the option to import to a place, including the iPhoto library, or you can delete. This is the best way to deal with stubborn photos that won’t get off your phone.
Here is where things get sticky. I think this is one of Apple’s dirtiest little secrets. Your iMessages chew up tons of space. Especially if you are someone who tends to receive a lot of photos and video. Even if you save them to your own Camera Roll they are still saved in the iMessage cache. Now there does seem to be a little confusion about this, but it appears that deleting the message immediately might save you because it never gets committed to the iMessage backup where it lives FOREVER. Well almost forever.
I hate to say it, but there really isn’t a clear-cut solution. There are high hopes that the iOS 8 release in the fall will bring one. Until then there is this work around http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZyUCRU89YI. It is not great, but if you are desperate it will solve your problem and open up some space for you.
Last but not least is your Apps. The size of the application and the data that application saves can start to really build up. In General > Settings > Usage, look and see which apps use the most space. If it is an app that you don’t even use, get rid of it. If is an app that you do use, and it takes up a lot of space, you may want to consider deleting it and re-installing to get rid of all the data it is holding onto. Be careful with this decision, that data may be important.
Does anyone else have any other tips to open up iPhone storage?