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How to clear ‘Other’ storage on an iPhone

If your iPhone is running low on storage, a great way to check on what you can delete to clear up a bit of space is to head to the Settings app. Here, you can check out your iPhone Storage screen under the General menu for a detailed breakdown of your device. However, you may be frustrated to see a portion of your iPhone’s storage is taken up by content merely labeled as "Other." (On devices with the iOS 15 update, it may also be called "System Data".) In this guide, we’ll review what that Other/System Data storage category might be comprised of, and how to clear it to free up additional space.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

15 minutes

What You Need

  • iPhone

Trying to make room on your iPhone? Be sure to also check out our guide on how to free up space on your iPhone.

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

How to view your iPhone storage

You can see a breakdown of your phone’s storage by following these steps:

Step 1: Under Settings > General > iPhone Storage, your phone will likely provide a few simple recommendations like offloading unused apps, and you can enable a setting that will automatically offload apps you’re not using.

Step 2: You can also opt to automatically delete old text conversations that were sent or received longer than a year ago.

Step 3: If you scroll to the bottom, you’ll find Other storage.

Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

What is ‘Other’ storage?

It can be frustrating to stare down the Other category in the iPhone Storage screen. While Apple labels space taken up by installed apps, system files, multimedia, and messages, the Other category presents a mystery. Put simply, the Other section is comprised of anything that Apple hasn’t sorted into one of its assigned categories. Common files categorized within the Other section include system files, application caches, and update files.

The types of ‘Other’ storage and how to clear them

It can be challenging to determine precisely what is categorized as Other storage. Here are some of the most common culprits that could be stealing your iPhone’s storage and detailed instructions on how to clear them.

Safari cache and website data

Safari is the default web browser on iOS devices. To load webpages with increased speed, it may store files on your device for later use. If left unchecked, Safari cache files and website data may grow out of control. Here’s how to clear Safari’s cache on your iPhone:

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll down and select Safari.

Step 3: Tap Clear History and Website Data.

Old iMessages and text messages

Despite having a dedicated Message category, old messages on your device can take up space under the Other category. If you don’t feel the need to keep your iMessages and text messages forever, you can set them to automatically delete after a set amount of time.

Step 1: Open the Settings app.

Step 2: Scroll and select Messages.

Step 3: Find and click on Keep Messages under Message History.

Step 4: Select whether to automatically delete messages after either 30 Days or 1 Year.

More options

As mentioned above, you may also find an option under Settings>General>iPhone storage where you can automatically delete messages and attachments sent more than a year ago. But going under messages allows you to specify the time period.

Mail app cache and files

Another application that stores a local cache on your device is the iOS Mail app. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to clear the cache and all associated files. Our recommendation for tackling this category is merely removing your email account from your iPhone and then re-adding it.

You can manage all current email accounts by opening the Settings app and navigating to the Passwords & Accounts section, then tapping the account and choosing to delete it. If you need further assistance after setting up your email again, check out our guide on adding your email account to an iPhone.

Streaming app cache files

Many streaming apps will use a cache to ensure your experience remains smooth, but this can begin to take up space on your device. Streaming apps include options such as Spotify, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max, and more.

You can offload these apps individually if you’re not using them a lot.

Step 1: Go to Settings> General > iPhone Storage and select the app.

Step 2: Select Offload on the individual app you want to offload.

Still having issues with ‘Other’ storage?

Suppose you’ve followed the above instructions and are still finding that the Other storage category is consuming your iPhone. Remember to close your browser windows when you’re not using them. Leaving dozens of windows open is somewhat common, but this can impact your phone’s performance.

If you really want to clear out your phone, you can try resetting your device and restoring it from a backup. Be sure to check out our guide on how to reset your iPhone if you decide to take this route. Remember to take caution when resetting and restoring your iPhone so as not to lose any photos or unrecoverable data.

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