How to Use Android's Storage Manager

Manage your files and free up space by dipping into your settings

What to Know

  • Go to Settings > Storage. Tap an app and clear its cache or data to fix problems with the app.
  • Tap Free Up Space. Tap Clean and select a category to find items you want to remove.
  • To automatically delete old photos and videos when space is low, tap Menu > Settings > Smart Storage.

This article explains how to clear up phone storage on your Android device using the built-in storage manager. This information applies to Android devices made by Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, and more.

How to Free up Space With the Storage Manager

When you free up space on your Android device, the phone has more space for new apps, photos, videos, and music, and often, faster performance. When a phone is close to full, it tends to get sluggish. Android refers to this feature as storage, but file management is what it does.

  1. Open your device Settings and tap Storage.

  2. This section displays how much room is available (X% used - X GB total). You'll see a list of everything on your phone, in categories including apps, music & audio, games, files, and system (files need to run your OS).

    Tap a category to view the apps associated with it. Choose an app and tap Clear Cache or Manage space to clear data (files, settings, and accounts). These actions can often fix problems with an app that's acting up.

    Storage, 54GB used, and Manage Space highlighted in Android Settings
  3. Go back to Storage settings and tap Free Up Space to display files organized by category: junk files, large files, unused apps, and downloaded files along with how many gigabytes each uses.

    Tap Clean to get rid of junk files, then scroll down and select a category to find items to remove.

    To delete unwanted apps, press and hold the app icon and tap Uninstall, or go to Settings > Apps > tap the app > Uninstall. You can't delete many pre-loaded apps without rooting the device.

    Free up space, Clean, and Select apps highlighted in Android Storage
  4. If you want to automatically delete old photos and videos when the phone is close to running out of space, turn on Smart Storage.

    Tap Menu (the three lines) > Settings > Smart Storage.

    Menu, Settings, and Smart Storage in Android Files

    Alternative Ways to Free Up Space on Your Android

    Another way to make space on an Android smartphone is to back up your pictures to Google Photos, which offers unlimited cloud storage and access to your images on any device. For other files, offload them to Dropbox, Google Drive, or another cloud service. You can also move apps to an SD card to save space.

    If you want to access Android system files, you can root your smartphone and install a third-party file manager. Rooting your smartphone is a straightforward process, and the risks are relatively small. The benefits include the ability to manage files on the smartphone, remove bloatware, and more.

    If you want to do a quick cleanup, as you would on a computer, the built-in tool does the trick.

    Always be sure to back up your data first, in case you accidentally delete something important.

    • How do I get more storage on my Android phone?

      Aside from freeing up space, you may be able to add a larger SD card, or you can purchase a Google One plan, which gives you 100GB-2TB of Google Drive storage.

    • How do I set my SD card as the default storage on my Android?

      To set the SD card as the default storage on Android, go to Settings > Storage > SD Card > Menu (three dots) > Storage settings. Then, select Format as internal > FORMAT SD CARD > Move content > Done. If you don't see the Format as internal option, your device doesn’t support using SD cards as internal storage.

    • What are some good Android file managers?

      The best Android file managers include File Commander, File Manager +, Cx File Explorer, Files by Google, Ghost Commander, and File Explorer Root Browser.

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