How to free up the "Other" space on your iPhone or iPad

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Philippe Gloaguen
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Apple has made changes to the way iOS handles the "Other" category on iPhones and iPads, but it's unclear how to free up that space. We will look at different ways to do this to gain storage capacity, getting rid of files that we do not need or that are old.

You probably won't know that iOS has a category called "Other" unless you're running out of space. When your iPhone or iPad tells you they don't have room to store an app or a photo or save a file, a good chunk of that memory is likely to be in the "Others" category.



We will look at ways to free up space so that you can save new files to your device

How to free up the space occupied by "Other" in iOS 13

  • Update to iOS or iPadOS 13.6.1 or later

Apple says there is a problem - they call it a "glitch" - with the storage in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. According to them, it is fixed by updating to version 13.6.1 or later.

Whatever the source of the problem is, if you are running out of space due to this, you should make a backup copy of the iPhone and update it. In fact, Apple says you shouldn't install new apps, download, or stream music until you've installed iOS or iPadOS 13.6.1 or later. 

What does the "Other" category mean in the iPhone or iPad memory

You know that if you've taken a photo, downloaded an app, or bought a song (we don't know if anyone does that yet), it will take up space on your device. You can also imagine that, to run an app, it needs a minimum of space to run.


What might surprise you is how much space is needed to make sure everything works as it should. "Others" includes anything other than multimedia files, apps, photos or documents. 


This means that if we could see in detail what's inside "Other" we would see alternate Siri voices, keychain data, fonts, dictionaries, user registers and more. The only way to quickly search for something on your device is if Spotlight has indexed all the content on your phone or tablet.

Probably the biggest customers in the «Other» category are your music, video and photo apps. Especially when streaming, it is temporarily stored on your iPhone or iPad in a cache. In theory that cache should be cleared automatically after the transmission is complete.

Much of that space called "Other" isn't cleared automatically because it's needed and can't be removed, but with things like characters and more Siri voices you can get rid of it.

How do you know how much space «Otra» takes up in iOS?

  1. Open Settings on your iOS device
  2. Select  General
  3. Tap iPhone Storage or iPad Storage

You will see a graph with colored bars representing the space occupied by each type of data. Even though when you see it on your device, the space it occupies is real, when you connect it to your Mac, you can see some variations.

  1. Connect your iOS device to Mac
  2. Open a Finder window
  3. Select your iOS device in the left column of the Finder window

This will open a window showing a lot of details about the iOS device, including the amount of storage used (it may take some time to calculate macOS).


In some cases, the system will offer a graph of the space, to readjust a few seconds later.


How to clear the "Other" memory

  1. Restart your iOS device
  2. Use the settings to clear Safari's cache

Restarting should allow the iOS device to clear some of its caches. If you have done this before, you will now.

We are talking about system caches, but different applications can have their own caches and some can be really important, for example that of Safari.

How to clear Safari cache on iPhone or iPad

  1. Go to Settings on the iOS device
  2. Get down  Safari
  3. Find "Clear history and website data"
  4. Touch to confirm

How to clear app caches

  1. Go to Settings, General, iPhone Storage
  2. Wait a few seconds
  3. Check the data usage of each app you have on your device

When you've waited a moment, the iPhone or iPad will offer you a couple of tips for saving space in general. you also have a list of apps below.

These are the applications that use the most space on your device, sorted from largest to smallest. Surely most are things you want to keep or can pass on to other devices.


For example, the Camera app might use many gigabytes of storage. You can reclaim space if you make a backup copy and delete that content. Also, if you enter each app, you can delete it (which will delete all associated files, make sure you've saved the content elsewhere!). Once you clear the app, the caches will also be cleared. You can download it again to have it available when you want to use it.


Delete WhatsApp WhatsApp files

Unless you've changed your settings or manually deleted conversations, your messaging apps can hold gigabytes of information, adding up every video, photo, and audio message that was sent.

In particular, WhatsApp, with its endless chains of jokes, absurd videos and clippings of radio and television programs, is a real garbage bag that does not stop swelling.

As soon as you go back in time, you will see groups of Christmases, birthdays, company dinners, etc. in which there is no more movement but which continue to host the photos, videos and messages that were needed in their time.

Even in groups of friends you actively use, save the photos you really want to keep in your camera roll and delete all pictures and videos.

Your phone will come to life with room to breathe… and cleaner air.

  1. Open WhatsApp and click on Settings (button in the lower right corner)
  2. Click Data and Storage
  3. Scroll the screen until you see "Storage usage"
  4. Gradually all your groups and people will appear sorted by the amount of space they take up on your phones (warning: it's scary to see).
  5. Select the group you want to lighten and at the bottom you will see a button that says "Manage".
  6. Tap the "Manage" button and select what you want to delete (text, photos, videos, etc.)

If you don't want to use such a traumatic approach, you can join each group and delete the content manually.

How to delete all the space occupied by "Other"

Unfortunately in the list of apps there is not one called "Other" where you can see what it is made of. If you still haven't been able to free up the space you need, it's possible that the only solution you have left is to make a complete copy of the device and delete it to start over.

  1. Open Settings on your iOS device
  2. Choose General and scroll down until you find "Reset"
  3. Tap "Reset" and choose "Delete all content and settings"
  4. Confirm this is what you want to do

This will erase your iPhone and restore it to the state it was in the day you bought it. This is the maximum free space your phone can have.

You now have the opportunity to re-select which applications you really need to have and which were the product of a specific situation.

Conclusion

Your best bet is to keep your phone maintenance activities up to date by deleting the pictures we have left, being strict with what we store in WhatsApp, and deleting applications that have fallen by the wayside.

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