Running out of room on your iPhone can severely restrict what you can do with it - no space for photos and videos, no space for new apps, and the apps you do have are misbehaving because they don't have anywhere to save new stuff.
The good news is that it's not too difficult to free up some extra room on your iPhone, if you know the right tricks, and we're about to share them with you. We'd recommend you tackle the problem as early as possible too, rather than waiting until you're almost out of storage space before doing anything about it.
1. Check where the space is going
No matter what iPhone model you've got, you will have had gigabytes of room on your handset when you first got it, so check where all that space has gone by opening the Settings app and tapping on 'General' and then 'Storage & iCloud Usage'.
Tap on the 'Manage Storage' link, and as well as getting a breakdown of how much space you've got left to work with, you can also see which apps and files are taking up most of the room. Photos and videos may well be near the top of the pile, especially if you're keen on shooting 4K movies.
2. Delete iTunes music and video
If you've synced movies, TV shows and music from iTunes to your iPhone, then you can delete it from this same Manage Storage screen - tap on 'Videos' or 'Music' and iOS shows you the files stored locally, together with the room they're taking up.
Tap on the 'Edit' button and you can delete any of the files you've stored using the red buttons, which can very quickly give you a lot more room to work with.
Don't be shy about removing a lot of locally synced music and movies, unless you're about to head off on a long plane flight, because you can always redownload them from iTunes again when you need to.
3. Remove apps you're not using any more
Most of the app entries on the Manage Storage screen don't give you that same level of control when it comes to deleting files, but you can delete entire apps by selecting them and then choosing Delete App on the next screen (unless they're apps that come as part of iOS).
Again, don't be afraid to clear out as many apps as you can, because Apple will remember which ones you've downloaded and paid for in the past, and you can reinstall them again at any time.
Of course you can also delete apps from the home screen with a long press on any app icon, then a tap on the cross next to the app you want to uninstall.
4. Delete other synced content
There could well be other synced content on your iPhone besides iTunes music, movies and TV shows - think Spotify, Google Play Music, Amazon Prime Video and so on. Even Netflix allows downloads these days.
You're going to have to dive into these apps yourself and find the relevant synced content because we can't give you instructions for every app out there. In the case of Prime Video, for example, tap the 'Downloads' button at the bottom of the interface, then tap on a movie or episode from the list and choose Delete.
You can probably clear up quite a lot of room by getting rid of old playlists, films and television shows you've downloaded to your iPhone but don't need any more.
5. Clear out photos and videos with iCloud
If you've had your iPhone for a while then the photos and videos you've amassed may well be taking up a substantial amount of space on your handset. If you can back these files up to the cloud you don't need to keep them on your iPhone.
One option is Apple's own iCloud, though you'll probably need to pay for more storage if you've got a lot of pictures and movies to upload.
Once iCloud Photo Library is set up, you can tap 'Photos & Camera' in Settings, then select Optimise iPhone Storage - this keeps low-res versions of your files locally, with the high-res copies saved in iCloud.
Of course you don't have to back up photos and videos if you don't want to keep them - have a browse through the Photos app to see how many terribly blurred or terribly boring shots you can safely erase.
6. Clear out photos and videos with other apps
You don't have to use Apple's iCloud service to move photos and videos off your phone - you can just plug the device into a Mac or Windows computer and copy the files off manually that way.
If you decide the cloud is the way to go, Dropbox is another option - it will sync all of your photos and videos up to the web and to your other connected computers, so you can get rid of the copies on your iPhone. As with iCloud though, you'll need to pay extra to store more than a couple of gigabytes.
Google Photos is one of the best tools for this job, because you can store an unlimited number of photos and videos in the cloud, provided you don't mind a bit of resizing, and the app comes with a Free up space option (on the main menu) that can clear out files that have already been backed up.
7. Find other files to delete
Apps, photos and videos will be the biggest offenders when it comes to taking up room on your iPhone but there are other areas to check too.
If you select 'Safari' from the Settings app, you can tap 'Clear History and Website Data' to remove all locally cached files from your phone.
What's more, if you tap 'Advanced' and then 'Website Data', you can remove these files on a site-by-site basis. If you've installed other browsers, they'll have similar options.
iOS doesn't give you much access to the file system but if there's any app that you rely on but think is taking up too much room, just uninstall and reinstall it - that should be enough to erase any unneeded temporary files that have built up.
8. Run a full reset on your iPhone
For the ultimate in iPhone clear-outs, you can reset your iPhone back to the state it came in from the factory, via the Reset page under 'General' in Settings. Tap 'Erase All Content and Settings' to get started.
Don't do this lightly though - you need to make sure everything is backed up somewhere else. Primarily that means your photos and videos, because all your apps and movies and music can be resynced through iTunes or iCloud, but think about saved games and bookmarks and so on.
Check out our guide on how to back up your iPhone and iPad for the best methods of keeping your data safe.
The advantage of going through this process is that it gives you back all the space you had when you first bought your iPhone - maybe you can be more careful with it this time around.
- Thinking about a new iPhone? Here's everything we know about the iPhone 8