Is your phone storage full again? Here are 5 easy ways to free up lots of space

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Young couple taking selfie picture with smartphone while hiking in the woods
Don't stop what you're doing to make space for more photos! Follow these 5 tips. (Photo: Getty)

Picture this: You’ve managed to gather the entire family in one place, and it’s finally photo time! But as soon as everyone says, “cheese!,” that dreaded “phone storage full” notification pops up on your screen. Ugh! A smartphone that’s run out of space is the ultimate party pooper.

When your phone storage is full, it basically means your device is clogged with large files — videos, photos, apps and the like. The culprit could also be memory-hogging junk files…yes, on your smartphone. Many junk files are harmless, but a software like McAfee Multi Access can help automate the process of preventing the malicious ones from creeping in.

McAfee Multi Access is a smart and powerful software package that, when installed in your iPhone or Android device, alerts you to dangerous downloads and risky websites. In fact, one subscription protects five devices — that includes PCs, Macs and tablets, too. And it’s just $4.99 a month after a 30-day free trial.

Try McAfee Multi Access for 30 days free*

Consider this software your first line of defense against files that can compromise your storage — and your safety. McAfee Multi Access even uses color-coded icons to warn you when internet search results have the potential to install malicious code, phish for identity-compromising information or send spam. It removes cookies that track you online, too, which not only protects your privacy but can free up storage space (more on that below).

With your safety secured, you can rest assured knowing that “phone storage full” can probably be remedied by following this simple checklist for clearing space:

Man with black skin watching media on smart phone in a bar
Taking these five steps will save you the headache of having to make space on your device while on the go. (Photo: Getty)

1. Delete large pictures and videos: It may seem like you can snap limitless shots with your smartphone, but those photos and videos take up a ton of space. Before you delete them, back them up to the cloud (here are all the cloud services you have to choose from, and how to use them). Make sure your phone is backing up automatically, too.

Then go into your phone’s Settings to manage your storage (in iPhone, it’s under General; in Android, it’s under Battery and Device Care). Here, you’ll find an inventory of all your pics and videos in size order. Deleting the largest files first will free up the most storage fast — just double- and triple-check that your media is backed up! You can always redownload anything from the cloud back onto your mobile device. Some cloud storage apps even have built-in options for automatically freeing up storage on your phone.

Try McAfee Multi Access for 30 days free*

2. Offload and delete apps: After your photos and videos, it’s your apps that are probably hogging up the most space. You should see these listed in the “manage storage” section of your phone settings, also in size order. You have a few options when it comes to apps you don’t (or barely) use.

One option is to offload the apps — this is the lower-commitment option, as it deletes the app’s code but not its data. That means the app icon will remain on your screen, and you can re-download it any time with all your info intact. This option is great for apps you hardly use but don’t want to part with.

The other option is to delete apps. In this case, the app, its code and all your data are wiped from the phone. If you want a deleted app back, you’ll have to start from scratch. Deleting frees up the total size of the app, whereas offloading frees up the amount of storage listed next to it (it’s specific to each app). Some phones even contain an auto-offload feature that automatically offloads apps you don’t use that often.

On Paulista Avenue, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Yes, you should clear your phone's cache and cookies, too. (Photo: Getty)

3. Clear your cache: You may be familiar with clearing the cache on your PC or Mac computer, but did you know cache-clearing is a smartphone thing, too? This little trick can be a secret weapon for avoiding “phone storage full” notifications — and it can speed up your phone’s performance.

Cached data is mainly used to help your apps perform better, but it’s notorious for hogging up storage space. Clearing your cache gets rid of unnecessary data that’s just lingering. And then there are cookies, which store user preferences, log-in info, browsing history and other elements of your online behavior. Clearing out your cookies helps free up space on your phone, too.

Note that clearing your cache requires going into the settings of each app individually. Similarly, you have to go into each separate browser’s settings to clear out cookies.

All cleared out? Now’s the perfect time to install McAfee Multi-Access to remove those cookies automatically and prevent anything suspicious from clogging up your storage in the future.

Try McAfee Multi Access for 30 days free*

4. Clear out saved media files: Whenever you download and save music, podcasts and videos to your favorite streaming apps, you’re also using phone storage. Similar to clearing your cookies and your cache, it’s smart to take inventory of the media you have stored in the libraries of these apps. Deleting albums you don’t listen to or episodes you’ll never watch again can restore precious storage space to your phone.

5. Delete message attachments: Here’s a sneaky one. You know that video of your granddaughter’s dance recital or the tons of vacation photos your son texted you? Or even the cat memes you get from your best friend? You guessed it: they’re all stealing storage space simply by sitting in your messaging apps.

To delete message attachments in an iPhone, go into each iMessage conversation individually, tap on the contact’s icon, scroll down and have a gander at all the attachments in that conversation you can select and delete. To banish attachments in Android, navigate to Files, Images or Videos, then scroll to your Messages folder to see, select and erase.

Don’t forget to empty your Trash! And, of course, keep your phone protected with McAfee Multi Access.

Try McAfee Multi Access for 30 days free*