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July 16, 2016

How to free up storage space on Android

by John_A


How do I free up space on my Android phone?

There are a couple of super simple, straightforward ways to instantly give you more room for music, apps, photos, and more.

  • Check your storage usage
  • Uninstall old or unused apps
  • Check and delete your unnecessary downloads
  • Clean up your playlist
  • Remove large videos
  • Use cloud storage for photos
  • Investigate adoptable storage options or a microSD card

Check your storage usage

The best way to begin freeing up your storage space on Android is to know what exactly is taking up so much space in the first place. Take some time to do a little investigating before you make any hasty decisions.

Launch the Settings app from your home screen, the Notification Shade, or the app drawer.
Scroll down and tap Storage & USB.

Check the apps and processes listed to see how much storage is being used by each.


Uninstall old or unused apps

There’s a very real possibility that an excess of apps is guilty of taking up tons of storage. We’re all guilty of downloading the fun free stuff that seems like a good idea in the moment, but what happens when we get bored with them or just forget to use them as time goes on? They just sit there and waste space. Such a shame.

Launch the Settings app from your home screen, the Notification Shade, or the app drawer.
Tap Applications or Apps.
Tap the app you wish to uninstall.

Tap Uninstall to remove it.


Check and delete your unnecessary downloads

If everyone you know is in the habit of sending you files to download or if you’ve habitually selected “OK” every time an item wants to be downloaded, chances are you’ve got a boatload of files that you may have only briefly needed or used that can be canned. Keep in mind that not all phones have an app called Downloads; yours might be called My Files or something along those lines. But all phones have a dedicated app where all your downloads are stored.

Tap the app drawer.
Tap Downloads.
Tap the file to highlight it.

Tap the trash can to delete the downloaded file.


Clean up your playlist


Music lovers out there may be guilty of loading up their phones with full albums, which can take up more storage space than you might imagine. Of course, you want to take the soundtrack of your life with you everywhere you go, but you could afford to lose a couple of albums you don’t regularly listen to.

Alternatively, you can opt to use music streaming services; these are much lighter on storage than downloading albums or even singles. Google Play Music, for example, has numerous pre-selected playlists to suit every mood and activity, as well as artist-themed radio stations.

Remove large videos

You don’t have to be an amateur director to have a phone filled to the brim with videos; cute or amazing things happen all the time, and you just happen to be the person with a phone at the ready, recording all of the action. Lengthy videos do require a good amount of storage, though, and the more of them you keep, the more storage space you’re giving up.

You have a few options: you could transfer the videos to your computer if you really want to hang onto them. You could also upload them to YouTube if they’re not private or sensitive, and if they are, you can set up the privacy settings on YouTube so that only selected guests can view it. That way, you can get rid of the hard copy that’s living in your phone’s storage space.

Use cloud storage for photos

Similar to the problem of videos taking up space, your ever-growing photo collections will take up a good deal of storage. Many newer Android phones come with Google Photos ready to use. If you’re not yet using cloud-based storage for your photos, now would be a prime time to start. As long as you’re connected to the storage you choose, you’ll have access to all of your photos at the size and quality you prefer.

You can choose to set up a Dropbox account, or dive in and check out the perks of Google Photos. Both eliminate the need to store your photos locally, freeing up a good amount of space on your phone.

Use a microSD card, potentially with adoptable storage


Keep in mind that, firstly, not all Android phones support adoptable storage, and if it does you’ll need to use a microSD card that will run fast enough to keep up with your phone. Our in-depth look at adoptable storage explains the process in more detail. If your phone offers it, and you’re low on storage, you can consider using the adoptable storage option to expand the storage space available on your phone. When your phone “adopts” the space available on the microSD card it becomes part of the phone’s storage system, rather than just adding a separate pool of available storage.

If your phone doesn’t support adoptable storage, you can still transfer apps, games (sometimes), and other large content onto a microSD card and free up quite a bit more storage space without having that card become part of the phone’s storage system. Move files using a file management app or your computer, set the default storage area for your camera and music apps to the microSD card, and manually move apps to the card from your application settings

Make some room

These basics should help you get a handle on your storage issues. If you have a tip or a trick you’ve found helpful, let us know about it in the comments below.

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