I’m sure this sounds familiar to you: you’re trying to install the latest iOS release, upgrade to a new iPhone, or just download that cool app everyone is talking about, and your iPhone says its storage is full .
You’ve already uninstalled every app you don’t think you need, and there’s still not enough space. So you open Settings, tap General, then iPhone Storage and sure enough, your iPhone is full. Worst of all, much of it is simply listed as ‘Other’. What is that supposed to mean? How do you get rid of it? The Other Storage section is mysterious and confusing, and there isn’t one answer that works for everyone, but hopefully this guide will help you solve this problem.
Latest iPhone Release: iPhone SE (2022), iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max (2021)
Latest iOS Release: iOS 15.6 (July 2022)
Latest iOS beta: iOS 16 (July 2022)
How to view your iPhone storage
To see how much storage space all your apps and data are taking up on your iPhone’s storage space, open the Settings app, select General, then select iPhone Storage. At the top, you’ll see a bar graph showing your total iPhone storage and what types of data it’s filling up. Below that, you’ll find a list of applications on your phone and how much space they take up, both for the app itself and for the stored data.
You’ll find the details of your iPhone storage a few layers deep in the Settings app.
It may take a few seconds for your iPhone to display the graph because it takes time to scan and analyze the storage. Even after the graph first appears, you still need to wait a few seconds for it to stabilize, as the app list and storage sizes may change as your phone completes the analysis.
What exactly is other storage?
Your iPhone storage menu divides that bar at the top into well-known categories like Apps, Media, Photos, and Mail, as well as an Other category that is sometimes very large. It’s common for Other to be in the 5-20 GB range, but if it’s much more than 20 GB, it’s probably gotten out of hand. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of the app list where you’ll see “iOS” and “System Data”. Tap “System Data” to see how much “Other System Data” takes up.
The Other category is large and varied because it is a truly all-encompassing category. It consists of system caches, logs, Siri voices (if you’ve downloaded other voices), updates, and much more. One of the biggest culprits for Other getting out of hand is streaming a lot of music and video. When you download video or music from iTunes Store, TV app, or Music app, it will be indexed as Media. But streams have caches used to ensure smooth playback, which are categorized as Other. We discuss How to Remove Other Storage on Mac in a separate article.
Safari’s caches can also get quite large. And if you are sending masses of texts with images or video, the caches can take up a lot of space for them. Your iPhone is supposed to manage these caches to keep your storage space from filling up completely, but it doesn’t always do a good job.
How to reduce the size of other data
You can’t remove Other completely, but you can sometimes reduce the size.
Let’s try clearing your Safari caches first. Open Settings > Safari and choose Clear history and website data. If you have many Safari tabs open on your iPhone, you may want to close most of them as well.
Clearing your Safari data can reduce the size of Other.
You can also edit Messages to save fewer old messages. Open Settings, then Messages and scroll down to the Message History setting. By default, Keep Messages is set to Forever, but you may want to change this to 1 year or even 30 days to reduce the data that the Messages app caches.
If you are a heavy texter, your Messages app can fill your storage space with a lot of data.
Finally, go back to iPhone storage and check out the list of apps. Most apps store data categorized as Apps, but some keep caches categorized as Other. For example, if the Podcasts app takes up a few gigabytes of space, it’s probably mostly cached data. Deleting and re-downloading the app may cause a dent in the Other category.
The Nuclear Option: Backup and Reset with iTunes
You can go through your iPhone and try to delete any small cache that might increase the size of Other Storage, but if you really want to make it as small as possible, you’ll need to back up your phone and reset it. This may take a while.
The best way to do this is to use iTunes on your Mac or PC.
Connect your iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes. On a Mac with macOS Catalina or later, use Finder instead, but the process is the same. You may be asked to allow access on your iPhone and you will need to enter your passcode, which you need to do.
Select your iPhone by clicking the little phone icon in the top left corner and choosing My Computer under Backups. It’s a good idea to check Encrypt Local Backup, so your account passwords and health data will also be backed up. Just choose a password you won’t forget. Click the button to back up now.
Create an encrypted backup to make the recovery process as painless as possible.
When the backup is complete, disconnect your iPhone and go to Settings > General > Reset and choose Erase All Content and Settings. This will return your iPhone to a ready-to-use state. When it reboots and is in the initial setup process, reconnect it to your computer with iTunes open and follow the onscreen instructions to restore your device.
This is the longest and most complicated way to shrink Other storage, but it’s also the best; there is just no way to get it smaller than it will be after a fresh reset and restore.