Even if you recently bought one of the best iPhones, your iCloud storage can quickly fill up before you know it. The free 5GB that comes with your Apple ID, or even one of the larger sizes that you can pay a monthly fee for, will soon be packed with images, videos, and other files.
While you can buy more iCloud space or use one of the best cloud storage alternative solutions, a good first step is to simply optimize your existing iCloud storage by deleting unwanted files. In this guide, we will offer five easy tips to free up space in iCloud.
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1. Find out what is taking up space
Before you start deleting files from iCloud, it’s a good idea to find out which types of files take up the most space. From your device’s Settings app, go to iCloud and select Manage Storage.
At the top of the screen, you’ll see a bar graph of what types of files are filling up your available iCloud space. For most Apple users, backups, photos, and messages can take up half of your storage space or more. Scroll down to find a detailed list of installed apps and the amount of iCloud storage each uses.
Now you have a good idea of which changes to your iCloud storage will free up the most space.
Your device backups are often to blame for a full iCloud storage space. It is quite possible that you have set your old iPhone to upload backups to the cloud automatically and then never deleted those files. Years later, they’re still sitting there taking up valuable storage space when there’s almost no chance you’ll ever need to access that backup in the future.
To get rid of these files, open iCloud from the Settings app (iOS) or the System Preferences app (MacOS). Then click or tap Manage backups to see all the backups that are currently saved to your iCloud account. Delete the ones you no longer need and you’ll instantly free up storage space.
While you’re here, it’s a good idea to check which individual apps are backing up to your iCloud account. Some of these, like your Photos app, may be important to copy to the cloud. But you don’t need to save data of each app on your device. To disable backups for an app, simply tap the status bar to change it from green to grey.
2. Get rid of old messages
Individual text messages and iChat threads can only be a few kilobytes each. But if you’ve been an iPhone user for many years, you could have more than a gigabyte of old messages stored in your iCloud account. The sum of all those messages could be even higher if you send a lot of emojis or photos.
To save space, go to the Messages app on your device. From here, you can delete individual messages or entire conversations. Keep in mind that when you delete messages on one device, they’re deleted from all of your Apple devices.
Alternatively, you can choose to only delete attachments, which tend to take up a disproportionate amount of storage space. From a conversation, tap the contact’s name and then the info button. Select View all photos, and then select all the photos you want to delete.
3. Remove email attachments
As with messages, attachments in emails can take up a lot of space, especially if your iCloud account stores emails several years old. Fortunately, you don’t need to indiscriminately delete all your emails from storage. iCloud Mail includes an easy way to view emails with attachments sorted by size.
Open iCloud Mail and select View, then Sort by Attachments. Now, you can delete all emails that have attachments in just a few clicks. If you don’t want to delete that many emails, choose a specific limit like 15 MB and delete all emails with attachments larger than that size.
4. Manage your photo library
Your photo library most likely takes up most of the space within your iCloud account. After all, Apple device cameras have incredibly high resolutions, and more and more people are shooting video clips as well as photos. It’s easy to end up with hundreds of gigabytes of media files in the cloud if you’re not careful about managing your library.
Unfortunately, there’s no automatic way to find bad photos in your iCloud Library. It’s up to you to search through your albums and delete the photos you don’t want. If you have videos stored in the cloud, it’s a good idea to review them and trim only to the clips you really want to keep for posterity.
You’ll notice that your available iCloud storage space doesn’t change right away as you delete photos. This is because when you delete them, instead of permanently deleting them, the photos and videos are sent to the Recently Deleted album. To add space back to your cloud account, navigate to the Recently Deleted album and delete all files from it.
In the future, there are a few things you can do to prevent your photo storage from overflowing. For example, it’s a good idea to select photos as soon as you take them. If it takes five camera taps to get the perfect selfie, delete the four photos you don’t need right away. Likewise, trim videos only to the parts you want to keep, and remove outtakes.
You can also move older albums offline if you don’t need to access them across on-demand devices. Moving data to an external hard drive will free up storage space in iCloud and can save you money on your cloud storage subscription in the long run.
5. Limpiar iCloud Drive
iCloud Drive is where Apple stores copies of all your other types of files, like documents, PDFs, and app files. Over time, your Drive storage space can become cluttered, as can your messages, mail, and photo libraries.
Cleaning iCloud Drive is easiest from a computer, but it can also be done on an iPhone or iPad. On a Mac, just go to the iCloud Drive folder in Finder. You can then sort the files by size, type, or creation date and delete anything you no longer need.
With files from all parts of the Apple ecosystem leaking into iCloud, it’s easy to see how your storage space can quickly fill up. Spending a few minutes cleaning out your storage every now and then can free up space, help you stay on top of clutter, and keep you from having to pay for more storage. With these five tips, you can easily tackle the most common causes of a full iCloud account.
Now that you know how to free up space in iCloud, check out some essential tips and tricks for your iPhone. You may also find our guide on how to get full-screen caller ID in iOS 15 helpful, as well as how to set up an Apple ID recovery key to make your iPhone more secure.