New WhatsApp update frees up valuable space on your phone – here's how to try it

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WhatsApp's developers are preparing a new set of tools that will give you much more control over how the app uses valuable storage on your phone.

We've known this feature was coming since August, when the sleuths at WABetaInfo discovered a menu tucked away in the app's install files showing a slew of new options to help you manage downloaded media. 

Currently, WhatsApp's data and storage options (available through the settings menu) are a little awkward to use. You can see how much space is being used on your phone, and by individual chats, but for each conversation you only have the option to delete all downloaded files, or leave them all alone.

The new menu will automatically highlight the biggest downloaded files (usually long videos), allowing you to free up a sizeable chunk of storage while deleting as few files as possible. You can also choose to purge forwarded files (allowing you to keep pictures actually taken by your friends and family), and sort shared files by age and size.

How to test it

Now the WABetaInfo experts have discovered that this new control panel is rolling out for beta testing, and should be widely available very soon.

If you're interested in being the first to try the new media management tools, you'll need to join WhatsApp's beta program. 

Unfortunately the program for Apple devices is currently full, though it's worth keeping an eye on the Testflight page to see if a space opens up.

To join the beta program for Android, visit the WhatsApp Beta page on Google Play and enter your details. If you already have the public version of WhatsApp installed, it will be updated to the beta version automatically within a few hours.

The new option is rolling out now for beta users, but it's a gradual process and activation seems to be taking place server-side, so don't be frustrated if you can't see it just yet.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)