We don’t have to tell you that the iPhone’s camera system is getting better year by year. Apple has always made mobile photography a priority, and the iPhone 13 line certainly offers features like ProRAW shooting, great macro mode, and portrait modes.
But improved photo quality comes at a price: iPhone storage is quickly filled with large media files that you might not want (or know existed!).
We all have photo libraries filled with locked selfies, screenshots we’ll never look at again, and occasional videos inside the pocket. And even if you’re meticulous about combing your photo roll for duds, there are some places where unwanted photos can hide in your library.
There is nothing worse than going on vacation and getting a notification that your iPhone storage is full. Scanning the Photos app may seem like a daunting task, but we have some tips and tricks to make it a painless experience.
How to find out how much storage your Photos app is using
The first thing you do to clear the Photos app is to see how much iPhone storage it takes up. In the Settings app, go to General, then iPhone Storage. If you take or save a lot of photos like us, your Photos app will consume a lot. We use 405.82 GB out of 512 GB!
Click on Photos and you’ll get a breakdown of how much storage the Recently Deleted album is using (more on that below), how much you can save by moving files to iCloud Photos, and the option to Review Personal Videos taking up precious space.
To see how much storage each individual file (photo, video, screenshot, etc.) is using on your iPhone, swipe up on an image (see third screenshot above). It will display all file metadata including size.
Use Cleanup to delete duplicates, screenshots and videos
While long videos and ProRAW photos certainly take up a lot of digital space, most of people’s storage problems come from not knowing how many duplicate photos, old screenshots, and occasional videos they have in their library.
We all have mobile shoots where 100 photos are taken and only three hit Instagram. If most of the photos aren’t good today, it’s not worth looking at them again tomorrow – so remove them from your phone. The same goes for quick screenshots of text messages (or occasional lock screen screenshots) and random videos inside your pocket. All these files may not make any sense, but they take up a lot of space on your device.
if Enter Rep. Ray Wong’s mother has a 4-hour video of the inside of her pocket, your iPhone might as well.
Going through your photo library will take picture by picture forever So we recommend speeding up the process with a useful app like Cleanup, at least to get started.
Cleanup is one of our favorite “cleaning” apps for iOS. Technically, there is a monthly fee for this app, but you can get everything you need to do during the three-day free trial if you play your cards right. Cleanup has several categories of media that will help you sort, each with its own folder on the home screen. Here are some tips for excluding each category:
- similar: This mode pulls out photos that look alike so you can choose your favorite photos and delete the rest. Cleanup will pick a few photos that look the same, pick a favorite, and ask you if you want to delete the rest. Simply scroll down through this list and get rid of the in-person session snapshots that didn’t make the final cut.
- Duplicate: This mode draws your attention to the mirror images on your phone. Maybe you had the same photos that many friends sent you or you accidentally saved multiple copies while using the editing app. You don’t need two of anything, so you can quickly scroll through this list and throw in the dupes.
- Videos: In this list, you can scroll through all the videos on your phone similar to Tinder to delete them easily. Simply tap on the video preview to get started – the video will play and you can swipe left to delete it or swipe right to keep it. Then it moves to the next stage.
- Snapshots: The swipe system isn’t enabled in this mode, but it’s still faster to delete screenshots here versus the Photos app on iPhone. Unless you think you have a lot of important screenshots, we recommend choosing everyone Take your screenshots to get started and then choose the ones you’d like to keep instead.
- else: With a swipe to delete or save options, this is the fastest way to search the rest of the photos on your phone. It will take some time, but it will be a lot less than all the tapping you have to do in the Photos app.
We’d definitely recommend going through your photo library manually at some point, but Cleanup speeds up the process and gets the obvious trash files out of the way.
Manage files that take up a lot of space
Aside from the files you don’t want, you should also consider deleting or moving the files that are taking up a lot of space. The easiest way to look at your library by genre is to tap the Albums tab in the Photos app and scroll to the Media Types heading toward the bottom of the list.
Here you will find quite a few folders that contain a specific type of media file. Here are the folders you should review:
- interval: Even the shortest and quietest videos take up too much space. Since these videos are usually taken just to test and play the feature, you should check your library and delete everything you don’t need to keep.
- Slovakia Mo: This is another video file that takes up a lot more space than you might expect. If you’re walking around and catching everything under the sun in slow motion, you might want to clean up this folder.
- Cinema Mode: Again, this type of video file can take up a lot of space. Unless you’re a filmmaker or content maker, there’s really no good reason to save every video you shoot with this mode.
- Explosion: Have you ever taken a sequential photo on purpose? We are sure that you did this by accident without even realizing it. These files look like a single image but can secretly consist of more than a hundred individual images that take up your storage space separately.
- Live Photos: Live photos are great, but those precious little videos they take with a still photo? Yes, they do take up storage space because they are separate .mov video files. Turn off Live Photos to save storage space and delete all the photos you don’t need.
- panorama: Oh my gosh, the panorama is amazing. Isn’t it cool? How big are the huge files? Since panoramic photos are multiple photos grouped together, the resolution can exceed 60 megapixels and the file size flows accordingly.
- raw: Maybe you like RAW shooting and get more range in the editing process. Or you accidentally turned on RAW shooting and turned it off at all. Either way, RAW files are much larger than JPEG files. We’ve seen 44MB RAW files compared to the 2.5-4.5MB for their JPEG equivalents.
Delete photos manually
Instead of browsing through your photos one by one (this may take a while even if you use Cleanup’s Other set), you can bulk delete photos in your photo library directly.
- While looking at your entire library in the Photos app, tap the Select button in the top-right corner of the screen.
- You can now scroll through your entire library and click on photos and videos to select them. If you’re trying to select multiple pictures in a row, you can drag your finger across them instead of tapping each picture individually.
- When you have selected all the photos you no longer need, tap the trash can icon in the lower right corner, then tap the delete option on the pop-up to confirm that you want to send them to trash.
Empty the Recently Deleted folder
Since users sometimes regret deleting media files, Apple does not get rid of deleted files right away. When you delete a photo, it actually goes to a separate “Recently Deleted” folder where you can still view and restore it. Anything you delete stays here for up to 30 days. We try to empty our storage space as quickly as possible, so let’s skip the waiting period and clear these files.
- In the Photos app, tap the Albums tab at the bottom of the screen.
- Scroll to the bottom of this list and click “Recently Deleted” under the “Utilities” heading.
- Press the “Select” button in the upper-right corner of the screen.
- Tap Delete All in the lower left corner of the screen.
- Confirm that you want to permanently delete all these files in the popup.