How to find out what's using all the space on your iOS device

Strapped for storage? Before you start randomly deleting stuff, find out which apps are consuming the most space.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

In an ideal world, Apple would have designed its iPhones, iPods, and iPads with memory-expansion slots. But in this world, you're stuck with whatever fixed amount of storage you purchased.

So what happens when you go to download a movie or install a big game like Madden NFL 25 and your iDevice tells you don't have enough space available?

You're out of luck, that's what. Your only real option is to free up additional space by deleting apps and data. Ah, but how can you determine which apps and data are using the most space? If you're just guessing at it, you could end up deleting a bunch of stuff that consumes very little, and therefore doesn't solve your problem.

The solution lies a few steps inside iOS Settings, which can show you exactly what's using your storage -- from most to least. Here's how to get there:

Looks like somebody needs to cut back on the podcasts!
Looks like somebody needs to cut back on the podcasts! Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

  1. Tap the Settings icon.
  2. Tap General, then Usage.
  3. You'll immediately see how much storage is available and how much is used. After a few seconds of calculations, you'll see a list of installed apps and how much space they're consuming.

Now you've got the information you need to make strategic deletions. If music is the culprit, consider removing a playlist or two. (Heck, subscribe to a streaming service like Rhapsody or Spotify and you can pretty much chuck your music library altogether.) If you have a lot of videos, delete the ones you no longer watch. And if there are space-hogging games you no longer play, well, you get the idea.

It's worth noting, too, that you can always offload media to a wireless media hub or hard drive (the Patriot Aero is a good choice, though I'm also partial to the Iogear MediaShair Hub), thereby freeing up more internal space for apps and such.

And don't forget utilities like PhoneClean, which promise to free up extra space with just a few clicks.