You’re trying to download and install the latest version of iOS, take a few photos, or download the cool app your friend told you about, but your iPhone says the memory is full. The worst part is that a large part of it is categorized only as “other”. What is that supposed to mean? How do you get rid of it?
The “Other” memory is mysterious and confusing, and there is no answer that works for everyone, but hopefully this guide will help you solve this problem.
To see how much space all of your apps and data are using on your iPhone’s storage, open the Settings app, select “General” and then “iPhone Storage”. At the top of the screen, you’ll see a bar chart that shows your total iPhone storage space and what types of data it fills. Below you will find a list of the applications on your phone and how much space they take up, both for the app itself and for the saved data.
It may take a few seconds for your iPhone to display the graph because scanning and analyzing the memory takes some time. Even after the chart appears for the first time, you should wait a few seconds for it to stabilize, as the values and the app list may change while your smartphone is completing the analysis.
Your iPhone storage menu shows well-known categories such as apps, media, photos and mail, but also a “Other” category, which is sometimes quite large. It’s common for “miscellaneous” to span several gigabytes, but if it’s well over 10 GB, it’s out of control.
The “Other” category is large and diverse because it is a real collection category. It includes system files, caches, Siri voices (if you downloaded other voices), logs, updates, and more. One of the biggest causes of too big a miscellaneous category is the streaming of a lot of music and videos. When you download videos or music from the iTunes Store, a TV app, or a music app, they are indexed as media. However, streams have caches that are used for smooth playback, and they are categorized as other.
Safari’s caches can also get quite large. And if you send tons of texts with pictures or videos via message, that can also fill up a lot of space.
Your iPhone is supposed to manage these caches so that your memory doesn’t get completely full, but it doesn’t always do a good job.
You can’t get rid of “others” entirely, but you can usually make them smaller.
First, let’s try clearing your Safari caches. Open “Settings> Safari” and select “Clear history and website data”. If you have many Safari tabs open on your iPhone, you may want to close most of them.
You may also want to change the Messages app settings to save less old messages. Open Settings, then Messages, and scroll down to the Message History setting. By default, Keep Messages is set to Forever, but you can change the setting to 1 year or even 30 days to reduce the amount of data that the Messages app caches.
Finally, go back to iPhone storage and look at the list of apps. Most of the apps store data that is categorized as apps, but some keep caches that are categorized as “other”. If, say, the podcasts app takes up a few gigabytes of storage, it’s probably mostly cached data. Deleting the app and downloading it again could significantly reduce the “Other” category.
You can try clearing every single small cache on your iPhone, but if you really want to make it as small as possible, you’ll need to back up and reset your smartphone. This can take a while.
It is best to use the Finder on your Mac or iTunes on the PC.
Connect your iPhone to your computer and start the respective program. You may be asked to allow access to your iPhone and you will need to enter your password.
Select your iPhone by clicking the small phone icon in the top left corner of iTunes, or by selecting iPhone from the left bar in Finder. Under Backups, select “Backup on this computer / Mac.” It is recommended to activate the “Encrypt local backup” option so that your account passwords and health data are also backed up. Just choose a password you won’t forget. Click the “Apply” button.
When the backup is done, disconnect your iPhone and go to “Settings> General> Reset”. There, select “Delete all content and settings”. This will restore your iPhone to its original state. If it restarts and is in the initial setup process, reconnect it to your computer while iTunes or Finder is open, and then follow the on-screen instructions to restore your device.
This is the longest and most expensive way to reduce the amount of memory, but it’s also the best; there is simply no way to make it smaller than it will be after resetting and restoring.
This guide was translated by Macworld.com.