iPhone or iPad Ran Out of Storage Space? Here’s How to Make Space Available Quickly

Jun 2, 2012 - 16 Comments

Cannot Download iOS app message, no storage space available

You’ve been downloading tons of apps, books, music, and movies galore, and when you go to download the latest great app you find yourself unable to, confronted with a “Cannot Download – There is not enough available storage” message. What are you supposed to do when your iPhone, iPad, or iPod runs out of disk space?

The simplest and fastest answer is to free up some storage capacity by focusing on apps you no longer use, we’ll show you the fastest way to do this so you can quickly get back to downloading the new apps or content you want.

  1. From the iOS home screen tap on “Settings”, then tap “General” followed by “Usage”, this shows us how much space is available and what’s eating it all up
  2. The Usage list is sorted by total size, starting from the top look through the list for apps you no longer use
  3. Find large apps to delete and free up space

  4. When you find an app that is large that gets infrequent use, tap on it and then tap the big red “Delete App” button, then confirm the deletion at the alert dialog
  5. Delete unused apps to free up space on iOS devices

  6. Repeat this with any other apps you don’t use often until you have sufficient space available

This is by far the quickest way to quickly free up storage in iOS, because virtually everyone has a handful of apps that they no longer use. When you’re satisfied with adequate capacity being made available again, go back to the App Store or iTunes and you’re free to download again.

What if I want to use the deleted app again? Is it gone forever?
Thanks to iCloud, App Store, and iTunes policies, Apple allows you to re-download owned content and apps as many times as you want to your authorized devices. This means you can delete an app that doesn’t get use now, but download it again at any time for free in the future if you find yourself needing that app again. Whether it’s a few weeks or years later, Apple doesn’t care, once you own the app it is yours, and they’ll store it for you. This generous policy applies to things bought from the Mac App Store as well.

Removing apps isn’t enough, I’m always running out of space
If you find yourself frequently running out of storage space on iOS devices, consider following some general tips to free up storage space to further minimize storage usage on iPhones, iPads, and iPods. Things like regularly downloading pictures, streaming music, deleting movies after you’ve finished watching them, all can make a giant difference.

Shouldn’t I just upgrade to an iOS device with a larger capacity?
This is a matter of choice and opinion, but what we’ve figured out is that you’ll almost always fill up any size device you get regardless of it’s disk capacity, whether it’s 16GB or 64GB. If you find yourself constantly needing disk space, it’s worth considering the upgrade to a larger size at the next release of a product, but generally speaking we always recommend getting the cheaper models, particularly in regards to iPads.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

16 Comments

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  1. Howard Brazee says:

    Usually, deleting apps won’t do the job – they don’t want to delete until the synchronizing completes, which won’t complete until the apps are deleted.

    So I turn off synchronization of movies or songs or something else, freeing up space – then delete the apps and synchronize – then I turn on the music synchronization

  2. Eom flux says:

    Delete movies too. Those are big data hogs.

  3. Jamie says:

    Thanks – great hint!

  4. Peter says:

    With the advent of retina iPad apps, “always” recommending the 16GB version doesn’t seem quite right, anymore.

    Many people will be fine with 16GB. But most?

  5. Dah•veed says:

    Whether it’s a few weeks or years later, Apple doesn’t care, once you own the app it is yours, and they’ll store it for you. This generous policy applies to things bought from the Mac App Store as well.

    AFAIK, this is not Apple’s policy. It flies in the face of Apple’s published redownload terms;

    Previous purchases may be unavailable if they have been refunded or are no longer on the iTunes Store.
    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2519

  6. Tomswifter says:

    Another place to look is within any magazine app. I have The New Yorker app and have been reading issues for many, many months. Until this article I didn’t realize that all the issues which I’ve read have remained on the iPad and was taking space.

    Went thru the app and “archived” all these back issues. I gained 2GB easily without pain. I don’t know if other magazines do the same, but worth a check.

    • DMA67 says:

      I subscribe to Business Week. And every week there is a new issue. What happens if I archive the issues? Where does an “archived” issue “live”? On my HD or… ? How do I delete old issues? Can I ever access the old issues again if I need to?

  7. Fayde says:

    Is there a way to do this on iOS devices that are running iOS 4 (I have 4.2.1)? I am having problems with my phone and cannot update to iOS 5. I need to find out which apps are taking up the most space and remove them (I literally have hundreds), but have not been able to find a 3rd party program that can help with this.

    Any thoughts?

  8. John Denton says:

    Can I transfer locally stored files to the iCloud to free up space? Doesn’t seem possible but I am out of space due to a TV series that I have yet to watch so would make sense to move it to iCloud?

  9. Linux4ever says:

    This is a simple fix. Well for some it will be. Just set up your Mac or Windows NAS to share all your Music, Tv, Movies, Pictures, etc. and keep your media off the Iphones and Ipads. Download an app like FileBrowser to access it and boom Bob’s your uncle, no more space issues. With that app you can also download stuff to the devices and copy paste to the Mac or Windows. What about when you’re not at home? Set up the VPN on the Mac or Windows and there ya go! Don’t want to set up a Nas? Ise Itunes Home Sharing Instead.

    • Casey says:

      Hi…thanks Linux4ever for the info. Could u walk me threw the steps of setting up to transfer music, photos etc. to windows and how to then retrieve it again back to my iphone temp. To view/listen wth this app or itunes method u speak of? Not really a computer wizz but i manage with a little instruction. Not sure of of what some of these abreviations are u used :/

      • Linux4ever says:

        Sure Casey. You download the app FileBrowser from the App Store. It’s about 4 or 5 bucks but worth every cent IMO. After that you log onto your windows based computer (I’m assuming). There’s lots of ways to do this. First is with home sharing. On your iPhone go into Settings, Music, and put in your username and pass. After that download the free app “remote”. Next step is to open iTunes go to settings, you’ll see home sharing. Sign in. Okay so now all your music on your computer is in that remote app, or under iPhone, music, more, shared library. Also makes your iPhone a remote control for iTunes. Volume, etc. Okay the FileBrowser app. On your windows PC, you have to create a Network Share. A simple google search will walk you through that, it’s not hard. Once the share is set, just click “scan” in FileBrowser, it’ll locate it. Do the username and password etc in settings, and that’s it you should be able to copy paste from windows pc, from photo stream, or camera role to the pc or vice versa. Or just stream the music from the pc to the device. No downloading. Okay the VPN, or virtual private network is a neat trick. It makes your computer network available via username, password, and ipaddress. Vpn is buried in iOS until you use it once, then it’s on the main menu. Google where to find it in settings. And google PPTP VPN setup for windows. It’s very easy to set up. Lastly you will need to port forward the VPN through the wireless router. If you need more help just reply ill help you out.

  10. Linux4ever says:

    VPN makes your network share accessible to the Internet and thus your cellphone via 3G. make sure the VPN username and password are tough. Port 1723 needs to be forwarded on the wireless router for the VPN to work but that should be with the VPN tutorial. It all Sounds daunting but it’s really not.

  11. Stephen says:

    I’m trying to download an app thats 1.36gb, and I have 2.7gb free space. But I cannot download the app because I don’t have enough space? I got plenty of space! Please help!

    • Stephen, you have to have enough space for the compressed download + the uncompressed app. Since uncompressed is anywhere from 1.5-10 times the compressed size, you need a minimum of 2.5x the size of the download, and you don’t have it. Once the app is installed, the download is erased, so you gain back that part of it, but remember that the installed size is always going to be much more than the download size. (I really wish App Store would show the installed size.)

  12. Kathy says:

    I have this error on my iPad2 but cannot get the error message to go away so that I can delete items. Any idea on how I can get the message off my screen? Thank you!!

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