How to create more space for an iPhone or iPad upgrade.
A major iOS software update typically requires a couple of gigabytes of storage space. If you don’t have space on your iPhone or iPad to install an update, follow these steps to free up some quickly.
Delete photos and videos
If your iPhone or iPad is cluttered with photos and videos, it’s unlikely it’s worth keeping them all. For every Instagram-worthy shot, you probably have 5-10 that you can do without. Once you delete those photos, you will quickly reclaim storage space.
Open the Photos app, navigate to the “Recents” album, then tap “Select”.
Scroll through all your photos and select the ones you can delete. When they are all selected, tap the Delete button in the bottom right corner.
In the next pop-up, tap on “Delete Photos” (this also removes the photos from your iCloud account).
But iOS and iPadOS won’t delete the photos right away. Go to the “Albums” tab and select the “Recently Deleted” album. Here, tap on “Select” and then tap on “Delete All” to get rid of all your deleted photos.
Turn on iCloud Photos or use Google Photos
If you don’t want to delete your photos, you can use iCloud Photos instead. It uploads all your photos to iCloud, and when you’re running low on storage space, it automatically deletes your oldest photos and videos from your device.
The problem is that the free tier of iCloud only gives you 5 GB of storage space. To load more than that, you need to upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $0.99 per month for 50GB.
To enable iCloud Photos, open the Settings app, go to the “Photos” section, and turn on the “iCloud Photos” option. From the following options, select “Optimize iPhone/iPad storage”.
If you don’t want to pay for cloud storage and don’t mind backing up photos in a compressed resolution, try the app. You can upload all the photos in your Camera Roll to your Google account. Once uploaded, you can delete all the photos on your iPhone or iPad with just one tap using Google Photos.
Remove similar and duplicate photos with Gemini Photos
Finding it difficult to select which photos to keep and which to delete? you can help. The app analyzes your gallery and presents you with groups of similar or duplicate photos.
It also selects the most attractive image from a group of related photos. You can keep the best shot or select a couple of images from the group and quickly get rid of the rest.
Gemini Photos has a feed-style user interface, similar to apps like Instagram. You can scroll through the collections of photos, add a few to the delete pile, and when you’re happy with your bucket, delete all the photos you’ve moved there. Just remember to go to the “Recently Deleted” album in the Photos app to get rid of the pictures forever.
offers a three-day free trial, and a subscription costs $2.99 per month or $11.99 per year.
Delete unused apps
After photos and videos, apps and games are next on the list. Even a simple social networking app can take up 500MB of storage space, and an interactive game can take up more than 1GB.
If you delete a couple of apps and games that you no longer use, you can free up a substantial amount of storage space.
Open the Settings app, go to “General” and select “iPhone Storage” or “iPad Storage”. You will see the available storage space at the top of the screen.
Below the graph, you’ll see a list of the apps that use the most space and how much space each uses. Review this list and remove unused apps.
If you have a couple of games that are taking up a lot of space, you can delete them for a while. Tap on an app from the list and then tap “Remove app” to remove it from your phone or tablet.
Alternatively, you can also tap on “Download App” to remove the app, but not its data. Once the iOS update is complete, you can re-download the app from the App Store at any time.
Clear Safari stash
If you do a lot of browsing on your iPhone or iPad, the website cache can fill up quite quickly. To clear it, open the Settings app and go to the “Safari” section. Scroll down and then tap on “Clear history and website data”.
In the pop-up window, tap on “Clear history and data” to confirm.
Clear unused app data
If you don’t have a lot of apps installed, app data might be to blame. Application data can be accumulated in a number of ways. It could be music you download from Spotify, podcasts from the Podcasts app, audiobooks on Audible, or movies and TV shows from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
If this is the case, you will see the app listed in the top section of the iPhone or iPad storage page. Touch the app to see how much storage space it’s using.
To delete the app data, open the respective app, find the Downloads section and then delete the app data from there. In the Audible app, you can navigate to your library and swipe left on an audiobook to reveal the “Remove from device” button.
Clear an app’s cache
Unlike Android, iOS does not have a system-level function to clear an app’s cache. You have to go to the app and find the feature in settings if the app supports it. You can find this option in third-party browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. Most popular apps like Spotify and Slack support clearing the cache.
For example, in the Slack app, you’ll find the “Reset cache” option under Settings > Advanced.
Delete old messages and attachments
iOS and iPadOS never delete data from the Messages app. All the messages, photos, and videos you’ve received over the years are still on your iPhone or iPad whether you want them to or not.
Open the Messages app and go to a conversation where you received a lot of media. Touch and hold a photo until you see the options menu. From here, tap on “More”.
Now, go to the message view and select all the attachments (photos, videos or animations) that you want to delete. Then, tap on the Delete button in the bottom left corner.
On the next pop-up, tap on “Delete Messages” to confirm.
delete downloaded music
If you use Apple Music and have Automatic Downloads enabled, your entire Apple Music library is synced to your iPhone or iPad. Until the iOS or iPadOS update is complete, you may want to delete your downloaded music (you can download it again later).
Open the Settings app, go to the “Music” section, and then tap on “Downloaded Music”.
From here, swipe left on “All Songs” to reveal the “Delete” button. Touch to delete all downloaded songs instantly.
You can also browse and delete individual albums or artists in the same way.
In the future, if you don’t want your Apple Music library to exceed a certain threshold, say 4GB, you can turn on the Optimize Storage feature (it’s under the Downloaded Music option).
Use iTunes to update
If you’ve tried all of the steps above, but you still can’t recover enough storage space to update to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS, you can use iTunes. Open iTunes on your computer and connect your iPhone or iPad.
Click the “Devices” button on the toolbar to start the sync process (if you haven’t already done so). Once the device is synced, click on “Check for update”.
iTunes downloads the update file to your computer and installs it on your iPhone or iPad, even if you’re low on storage space.