5 Ways to Get More Storage on Your Smartphone

African American woman sending a text message on her smartphone

Just when you find the app that will keep the kids occupied during unexpected rush hour, or you’re perfectly posed for a post-haircut selfie, the dreaded message appears on your phone: “storage full.” Some simple preventive maintenance can ward off any ensuing tantrums (yes, yours).

Here are five tips to keep your phone primed for more photos, videos, apps, and files.

Schedule an Appointment
Even if you have to pencil it in on your calendar, check your storage settings regularly to avoid overcrowding. For Androids, open the Settings screen and tap Storage. For iPhones, go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage. This displays what apps and other files are taking up the most space.

Get a Storage Unit
Think of your phone like a garage or attic. External hard drives and cloud-based options are like storage units for electronic data. Because the bulk of phone space is hogged by photos and videos, moving them to websites like Google Photos, Amazon Prime Photos, Shutterfly, Flickr, or Dropbox gives other apps and files elbow room.

If your Android phone has a microSD card slot, you can get more storage with a microSD card for music, videos, pictures, other media files, and, in some cases, apps.

Double Down on Deleting
Once you store your files somewhere else, delete them from your phone. To delete photos from an Android, open the Gallery or Photos app, then the album that contains the photos to remove. Tap and hold the photo until a trash icon appears in the upper-right portion of the screen, then tap the trash icon. Confirm by tapping OK (Gallery) or Move to Trash (Photos).

Unlike Android, when you tap on the trash icon on your iPhone, most photos and videos are sent to the Recently Deleted album, which isn’t cleared for 30 days. To delete them from there, go to Photos > Albums > Select > Delete All. Also check to make sure photos aren’t being saved twice. If you use HDR mode or Instagram a lot, your phone automatically saves two photos. To stop double-saving, open Settings, go to Photos & Camera, and uncheck Keep Normal Photo.

Photos also can get double-saved on Android phones. There’s an app for that; it’s Duplicate File Finder available from Google Play. After installing the app, open it and press the menu button on the top right of the app screen. Go to Menu > Settings and choose photos. (You can also scan for duplicate videos.) Return to the app’s main screen and press Scan. A list of duplicate photos will appear, and you can choose to delete them then and there.

Toss What You Don’t Need
Photos and videos aren’t the only phone guests who overstay their welcome. You can gain a lot of space by routinely clearing your browser cache, which stores unnecessary web history and data. For Chrome, open the Chrome app, tap the three-dot button on the top right, History, and then Clear Browsing Data. To clear Safari, go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.

It’s estimated that more than 6 billion texts are sent in the United States every day. Chances are, yours are taking up more than their fair share of room on your phone. Go beyond simply deleting them by automatically deleting them.

For Android, open the Text Messages app and tap on the Menu option in the top right corner. Choose Settings, then Delete Old Messages from the drop-down. Tap on the box in the top right corner to make it green. A prompt will appear: “Delete old messages when …” Choose Text Message Limit and set it as low as possible for seamless performance of your smartphone. Your phone will then delete all the older messages once this limit is reached.

On your iPhone, go to Messages > Message History > Keep Messages and choose 30 Days.

Manage Apps Like a Boss
One of the fastest ways to save space? Delete unused apps. (You can always download them again if you miss them.) You may be surprised to find some of the biggest storage-hogging apps are ones you haven’t used for months, perhaps years.

For Android, open the Settings app from your app drawer and choose Apps or Applications to open the application manager. Swipe to the Downloads tab. Find and tap the app that you want to delete and tap Uninstall. On your iPhone, you can delete them quickly — and reclaim tons of storage — by tapping on the arrow next to the app under the Manage Storage menu and Delete App.

This doesn’t mean you should feel guilty about those can’t-live-without apps that take up a lot of space. Whether it’s Google Maps, Instagram, or Words with Friends, the more you use an app, the more its cache increases. On your Android, you can clear all cached app data at once by going to Settings > Storage > Cached Data, then tap OK in the confirmation window. To fix this on iPhone, delete the app and download it again to free up quite a bit of space.