Take back control of storage on your smartphone

Consumer Reports’ quick steps to free up space on Androids and iPhones

Consumer Investigator Lauren Verno shows us there are some simple tricks to free up space.

It’s an alert on your phone that comes right when you’re trying to snap a photo or take a video to capture a moment you can’t get back: “Storage on your phone is full.”

“I bought a phone with 256 GB of storage because I was constantly running into this issue where I max out my phone storage and couldn’t use the phone anymore,” said Marisa Malvetti who loves taking pictures of her kids.

Consumer Reports says there are some quick and easy steps to free up storage on your phone without sacrificing your data. It all starts with a little detective work.

“The first thing you need to do is look into your phone and see what’s actually taking up so much space,” said Consumer Reports Tech Editor Melanie Pinola

To check what’s taking up space on an Android phone, go to:

  • Settings – battery and device care – storage

To check what’s taking up space on an iPhone, go to:

  • Settings – General – iPhone storage

If your phone is photo-heavy, you can offload pictures and videos to cloud-based storage such as iCloud or Google Photos or move them to a computer or external hard drive.

If your phone is photo-heavy, you can offload pictures and videos to cloud-based storage such as iCloud or Google Photos or move them to a computer or external hard drive. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

You can also optimize your photos. That means full resolution pics are stored on the cloud while smaller versions remain on your phone.

If music is what you’re hoarding, Consumer Reports says to think about streaming instead. You don’t really need to download and store a lot of music on your phone. That goes for podcasts too.

For some people, the issue is memory-heavy apps.

“All of a sudden I’m running out of space, and it’s because I have these old apps I don’t even use anymore,” said Pinola.

In that case, you can delete old apps or offload them. Offloading gets rid of the apps but keeps the data related to them. So, you can always download them again and pick up where you left off.

This is important too: Don’t forget your text messages. All those shared photos, videos and gifs can take up a lot of space.

iPhone users:

  • Clear out big text attachments by tapping the Settings app – select General – select iPhone Storage – select Review Large Attachments – tap Edit and select attachments you want to delete and hit the trash icon

Android users:

  • Clear out big text attachments by tapping the Files app – tap Images or Videos – open the Messages folder – tap images you want to delete and hit the trash button

Consumer Reports’ 21 Hidden Smartphone Superpowers

Consumer Reports has put together a list of what it calls “21 Hidden Smartphone Superpowers.” Whether you have an Android or an iPhone, you can do everything from sending an emergency alert to family and loved ones to locking down your phone if it’s lost or stolen.

You don’t have to download additional apps to find these hidden gems. Consumer Reports says most are built into the latest operating systems from Android and Apple. To see the full list of 21 Hidden Smartphone Superpowers and how to use them, click here.