iPhone Other storage: What is it and how do you clear it?

I’m sure this sounds familiar: You’re trying to download and install the latest iOS release, or take some photos, or download that cool app your friend told you about, and your iPhone says the storage is full.

You’ve already deleted every app you don’t think you need, and there’s still not enough space. So you look at your iPhone storage in Settings page and, sure enough, your iPhone’s storage is full. Worst of all, a huge chunk of it is just listed as Other. What’s that supposed to mean? How do you get rid of it?

The Other storage section is mysterious and confusing, and there’s no one answer that works for everyone, but hopefully this guide will help you deal with this problem.

How to view your iPhone storage

To see how much storage all your apps and data are taking up on your iPhone’s storage, open the Settings app, select General, then iPhone Storage. Up top you’ll see a bar graph showing your total iPhone storage and which types of data are filling it up. Beneath that you’ll find a list of applications on your phone and how much room they take up, both for the app itself and its stored data.

iphone storage IDG

You’ll find your iPhone storage details a few layers deep in the Settings app.

It may take several seconds for your iPhone to show the graph, as it takes time to scan and analyze its storage. Even after the chart first appears, you’ll want to wait several seconds more for it to stabilize, as the app list and storage sizes can change while your phone completes its analysis.

What is Other storage, anyway?

Your iPhone Storage menu will divide that bar up top into familiar categories like Apps, Media, Photos, and Mail, but also an Other category that is sometimes very large. It’s common for Other to be in the 5-10GB range, but if it’s way over 10GB, it has probably grown out of control. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of the app list to see how much space “System” and “Other” are taking up.

The Other category is big and varied, because it’s a real catch-all category. It’s comprised of system files, caches, Siri voices (if you’ve downloaded other voices), logs, updates, and so much more. One of the biggest culprits for Other growing out of hand is streaming lots of music and video. When you download video or music from the iTunes store, TV app, or Music app, it’s indexed as Media. But streams have caches used to ensure smooth playback, and those are categorized as Other.

Safari’s caches can start to grow pretty large, too. And if you send tons of texts with images or video, the caches for that can start to fill up a lot of space.