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iPhone Other storage: What is it and how do you delete it?

Macworld | Aug 14, 2019

Got a bunch of “Other” filling up all your iPhone storage? Here’s what you can do about it.

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Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You’re trying to update your iPhone or download a big app and it says you don’t have enough storage space.

So you go to Settings and look at your storage and you see apps and photos and stuff, but also many gigabytes of OTHER.

Other? What’s that? Why is it taking up so much space? How do you get rid of it?

Today I’m going to shed a bit of light on this Other storage and maybe help you trim it down a bit.


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Start by taking a look at your iPhone storage. Open Settings and tap on General, then iPhone Storage.

It may take a few seconds for the bar chart at the top of the page to fill in, and it might adjust and update a few times as your phone scans through its storage to see what’s what.

This chart can give you some idea of how much space Other is taking up, but if you scroll all the way down past your list of apps, you can get an exact figure.


So what *is* this Other stuff anyway? It’s not your apps or *their* data, or your photos or music. It’s sort of a catch-all category for everything else. It’s certain kinds of system files, caches, Siri voices (if you’ve downloaded any), logs, updates, and other miscellaneous stuff.

Your iPhone is supposed to automatically manage the stuff in Other to keep your storage from becoming full, but it doesn’t always do a great job.

It’s pretty common for the Other category to be anywhere from 4 to 8 gigabytes. But if it’s way over 10 gigabytes, it’s grown out of control and we should try to do something about it. You can’t make Other go away, but you can probably shrink it a little.

First, let’s try clearing your Safari caches. Open Settings, tap on Safari, and scroll down to tap on Clear History and Website Data. If you have a lot of open Safari tabs, you might also want to close most of them.

We can also set Messages to save fewer old messages. Open Settings, then Messages, and scroll down to the Message History setting.

By default, it’s set to keep messages forever, but you may want to change it to 1 Year or even 30 Days, so you have a smaller messages data cache.

Finally, let’s go back to iPhone Storage in Settings and look at that apps list. The data for most apps is in the Apps category, but certain kinds of data, especially streaming audio and video, can end up in Other.

For example, if the Podcasts app is taking up a couple gigabytes of space, most of that is probably cached data. Deleting the app and then re-downloding it might reduce the size of that Other category.

Now, you might try all that and find that the Other category is still much bigger than it ought to be. Unfortunately, there’s no simple way to clean it out. This is when it’s time for the nuclear option: backing up and restoring your iPhone.

The best way to back up your iPhone and restore it without losing any important data is to use iTunes on your Mac or PC. If you’re running macOS Catalina or later, you’ll do all this in Finder.

Connect your iPhone to your computer with your lightning cable, launch iTunes or Finder, and select your phone.

In the Backups section you want to choose This Computer and check the Encrypt Local Backup box. Then click Back Up Now.

The backup will take a little while, but when it’s done, disconnect your iPhone, and open Settings. Go to General, then Reset, and select Erase All Content and Settings.

Your iPhone will restart and be in be ready for setup, just like its fresh out of the box. Plug it back into your computer and open iTunes or Finder, and follow the step-by-step instructions on screen to restore the backup you just made.

This is the longest and most annoying way to reduce the size of Other, but it’s also the most effective. So if you’re at wits end with too much Other data, give it a shot.

Dealing with this mystery Other category is really frustrating, especially if you have an older iPhone. But since newer iPhones come with more storage, it’s getting to be less of a problem. Hopefully, this will be the last time you have to deal with it.
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