How can I quickly free up space on my phone?

Anyone with a smartphone will be very familiar with seeing the dreaded “storage almost full” message flash up on the screen. For those who have ignored these warning signs long enough, it may even read “storage full”. Running out of memory can be quite annoying and disruptive, particularly if it happens just before you need to do something which requires storage space.

For most Apple or Android users, this message will first appear when you are very close to reaching your storage limit, usually about 500MB before. It often shows after you’ve tried to download a new app, that album you’ve been looking forward to or while shooting a video. If the file size is larger than what’s remaining, the prompt will appear and indicate that you need to make room.

The good news is that you don’t have to put up with it. There are simple steps you can take to help stretch your phone’s internal memory and make use of every megabyte you have.

Transfer photos and videos out of internal storage

We’re all guilty of taking photos and recording videos, and then forgetting to delete them. Over time, these files can accumulate and take up a lot of storage.

By offloading these files to a cloud-based system, it can make a huge difference. If you’re using an iPhone, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos and tap the iCloud Photo Library toggle to turn the service on. Once you’ve enabled iCloud Photo Library, your photos and videos will automatically upload to iCloud so you’re free to delete any locally stored files. Apple provides a certain amount of storage for free, with more available for a small fee.

Android users can set up Google Photos to automatically back up files by launching the app and going to Settings > Back Up & Sync. Google lets you back up unlimited photos and videos for free, up to 16MP and 1080p HD. You can then access them from any phone, tablet, or computer on photos.google.com.

Beyond iCloud and Google Photos, there are various apps you can use to upload your photos and videos to an online account, including Dropbox and Flickr. Alternatively, you could always go through your albums and delete what you do not need.

Get rid of those unwanted apps

Another habit that we all get into is downloading apps for a specific purpose (or amid a gaming fad – who remembers Flappy Bird?) and then forgetting to delete them. These apps take up a surprisingly large amount of space and if left without updates, can cause your phone to slow down.

To see how much space each app occupies, iOS users can go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. On an Android smartphone, open Settings > Storage > Apps.

By deleting a handful of apps, you could potentially free up as much as 500MB with little or no effort.

Remove unnecessary downloads

Unlike a few years ago, our phones now contain lots of downloaded content. From podcasts to Netflix episodes, to music, eBooks and documents. Much like unwanted apps, these are often downloaded and forgotten about. If you no longer need or use them, delete them and free up space for new content.

Delete old text message threads

When you send and receive text messages, your phone automatically stores them for safe keeping. If these texts contain images or videos, they can take up a considerable amount of space.

Fortunately, you do not need to go back and manually delete all your old text messages. Both Apple and Android phones allow you to auto-delete old messages.

To enable this feature in iOS, go to Settings > Messages and scroll down until you see Message History. Then, tap Keep Messages and change Forever to 30 Days or 1 Year. Immediately after, you’ll be prompted to delete older messages.

For other devices – like Samsung phones – you simply need to head to Settings and make sure “delete old messages” is toggled on.

By following these tips, you will be surprised at how much storage you can save and in turn, how little you begin to see those pop-ups again.