What is “Other” in iPhone storage and how to get rid of it

Most of your storage is being taken up by "Other"? Here's what you can do about it.

what is iPhone Other storage

If you’re running low on iPhone storage space, deleting “Other” in your iPhone storage can help.

Yes, that gray category on your iPhone storage bar usually is the culprit for your iPhone running low on storage problems.

Read on, and we’ll go over what “Other” actually means in your iPhone storage as well as how to delete it on your iPhone.

How to find the “Other” Storage

Let’s find out how you can locate the other storage on your iPhone.

  • Go to Settings, then tap General.
  • Tap on iPhone Storage.
  • A bar graph displays how your storage is split into various categories.
  • Other is usually on the far right of this bar graph.

The colorful graph showing the breakup of the phone’s storage usually has “Other” listed as a gray color bar. This storage breakup bar can change on a daily basis depending on many factors that are specific to your iPhone and the apps running on it.

What Does “Other” Mean in iPhone Storage?

“Other” is usually made up of some settings files or some files of iOS applications like Apple Maps or Siri. It can also contain some iOS updates that might get stuck after you have used them to update your iOS. However, the bulk of the files under “Other” contains cache files. Cache files are those files that help you run your applications faster.

Let’s take your Instagram app, for instance. Have you ever wondered how your Instagram app can load your feed almost instantaneously? The smooth upload of the feed partly happens because your Instagram app pre-fetches content in the background.

It predicts what you are going to view and stores the upcoming content in the feed, in its cache. So theoretically, the cache should be cleared up when you are done viewing the content. When this clean up doesn’t happen, it starts to accumulate in the “Other” category.

There are many ways by which you can get rid of “Other” from your iPhone storage. You can start by freeing up space taken up a few of the iOS applications first. Then, we can look at other methods as well.

How to Get Rid of Other on iPhone

  1. Clean up Safari’s Cache
  2. Delete Old Messages
  3. Follow Apple’s Recommendations
  4. Offload Unused Apps (Automatically)
  5. Offload Unused Apps (Manually)
  6. Delete Old Voice Notes
  7. Backup & Restore

1. Clean up Safari’s cache

Steps showing how to clear Safari History and Website Data
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Safari is the default browser used by most people on their iPhones. If you use Safari, chances are there might be some space that can be cleaned up.

  • Head over to your iPhone Settings.
  • Scroll down and select Safari.
  • Scroll down and tap Clear History and Website Data at the bottom of the page (on iOS 13 and earlier).
  • Tap Clear History and Data on the popup to Confirm

2. Clean up Old Messages

Though this process may not free up a lot of space, you must know how to clean up old messages. You can delete messages by swiping left one message at a time.

If you want to delete multiple messages, you can select multiple messages by tapping on the three dots at the top right corner of the screen. Tap Select Messages to select all the messages you want to delete. Then tap Delete at the bottom right corner of the screen.

Be careful, there’s no confirmation message, once you tap Delete, your messages will be deleted right away.

Steps showing how to delete iMessages in bulk
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

It’s a good idea to auto clean up old messages to avoid taking a toll on your iPhone storage. Do the following to delete all messages older than 30 Days or 1 Year.

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap Messages
  • Scroll down, under the Message History section, tap Keep Messages
  • You’ll have three options: 30 Days, 1 Year, or Forever. Select either 30 Days or 1 Year. All messages older than the selected period will be automatically discarded.

3. Follow Apple’s Recommendations

Apple keeps track of how space is utilized on the iPhone. The system automatically generates recommendations that, if followed, can clear up some of the space under the “Other” category. The recommendations are specific for every iPhone because it’s based on individual usage. You can find these recommendations by following the steps below.

Recomendations to clear iPhone storage
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor
  • Go to Settings, then General.
  • Tap on iPhone Storage.
  • Recommendations are located under the colorful bar displaying the current storage breakup.

Some of these recommendations may be:

  • Offload Unused Apps (Details in the following section).
  • Review Large Attachments: Explore this option to review photos, videos, and attachments in Messages taking up storage space.
  • Review Large Conversations: Like the above option, this allows you to clean up the Messages app.

4. Offload Unused Apps (Automatically)

Offload unused apps to clear Other iPhone storage
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Your iPhone keeps track of which apps you use most and which ones you visit sparingly. There are always some apps you just downloaded to check them out. You may have lost interest in them or have not used them in quite some time. iPhone has a recommendation list of all such apps. These are located under the Offload Unused Apps option.

You can find the Offload Unused Apps option at the following location.

  • Open the Settings app, then select iTunes & App Stores.
  • Locate Offload Unused Apps.
  • Flip the switch to the On position (it’s green when it’s On).

This feature automatically uninstalls all the apps which you’ve not used in a long time. Still, it keeps the data and documents related to these apps intact.

The app icon of an app uninstalled by the iPhone automatically is retained on your home screen. The app is not there, but tapping on the icon re-downloads the app from the App Store. Now, since you already had the associated data and documents related to the app. You get a fully functional app restored to its last stage with all your custom data before it was uninstalled.

The best part is this step will most likely clear the app’s cache, and delete the “Other” storage space.

5. Offload Unused Apps (Manually)

Offload an app to clear iPhone Other storage
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

You can also choose to offload apps manually. You can find which ones to pick from the following location (iOS 13), where all apps are listed, sorted from the ones taking most space to the least.

  • Open up the Settings app.
  • Select General, then tap iPhone Storage.
  • You’ll see all your apps sorted from the ones taking most space to the least.
  • Tap an app that you want to offload.
  • Inside the app-specific menu, Tap Offload App.

This step uninstalls the app but keeps its documents and data. You can review the iPhone Storage section to see whether the “Other” storage space was freed up.

6. Delete Old Voice Notes

Deleting voice memos to clear iPhone Other storage
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Voice notes are used to record audio around the phone, typically while creating an audio log or recording notes in meetings. These audio files, just like other files, also take up space. You can delete old or unwanted voice notes by following these steps.

  • Launch the Voice memos app
  • Tap Edit at the top right corner of the screen
  • Select the notes you want to delete.
  • Then tap Delete at the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Now go to the Recently Deleted folder at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Edit at the top right corner of the screen, tap Delete All, then tap Delete Forever to permanently delete your recordings.

7. Backup & Restore Your iPhone

Backing up iPhone via iCloud
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

One final method that can free up space from the “Other” category of iPhone Storage is to Reset your iPhone to the default settings. This significant step will erase all of your content on the phone, so make sure you back up your iPhone to the iCloud before you do this step.

  • Make sure your iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi internet connection.
  • Go to Settings, then tap on your Name at the top.
  • Select iCloud.
  • Turn all Switches to On for all categories you want to be uploaded and saved to the iCloud.
  • Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup, then switch the toggle next to it to On
  • Tap Backup Now to back up your iPhone. Allow the backup to finish.

Ensure Last Successful Backup displayed under the Backup Now has the most recent timestamp. Also, make sure you have enough space on your iCloud. If you don’t, then follow the instructions in this guide to free up iCloud storage space. Either way, you will need to have enough storage for the amount of backup you are attempting to store in the iCloud.

Now, Let’s Reset Your iPhone.

  • Go to Settings, tap General.
  • Then scroll down and tap Reset
  • Tap Erase All Contents and Settings
  • Select Erase Now to reset your iPhone.

The iPhone will restart and go through the regular setup procedure and reach Apps & Data screen. You’ll have the option to transfer apps and data. Choose Restore from iCloud Backup, and select your most recent backup.

Restore continues, and after a few reboots, you will return to the home screen. Apps will be downloading in the background. Once all apps are downloaded, check the same location as below to ensure you have reclaimed some space from the “Other” category

  • Go to Settings, then General.
  • Tap on iPhone Storage.
  • Review the now probably reduced “Other” storage category.

Wrap Up

It becomes quite a routine to keep going through these steps to salvage a few gigs of free space. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to go for a higher storage iPhone, especially if you think you would be a heavy app user or record a lot of high-quality videos.

That said, however, just like every other piece of tech, the iPhone too needs fine-tuning regularly to maintain optimum performance.

If you found this article helpful, then please share it with your friends so they can benefit from it too.

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