How to Clear iCloud Storage

What to do when that 5 GB of free storage disappears

iCloud homepage screenshot

Apple offers only 5 GB of free iCloud storage to back up photos, contacts, calendars, text messages, and more data. Given that 5 GB isn't much, this guide outlines the steps to free up space on iCloud. You can use a number of methods, including clearing backed up data directly and choosing not to back up certain apps.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running iOS 10.3 or later.

Clear iCloud Backups on iPhone or iPad

The most effective method to clear iCloud Storage is to delete your backups. Here's how you do it on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. Open Settings, tap your name, then tap iCloud.

    The iCloud item in iPhone settings
  2. Tap Manage Storage, then tap Backups.

    Manage Storage and Backups options in iCloud Storage
  3. The Info screen shows the devices for which iCloud is storing backups and how much space the backups take up. Tap a device to open a page with more information. Tap Delete Backup to remove the data from your iCloud account.

    Deleting a backup stops that device from backing up again to iCloud. Turn the feature on manually to automatically back up the device.

    Deleting a backup from iCloud
  4. After a moment, the backup is deleted.

Clearing backups is one way to clear iCloud space, and it's a quick method to save room. To delete and turn off backups for others app you use with iCloud, open Settings, tap your name, tap iCloud, then choose an app from the list.

Clear iCloud Storage on Mac

You can also clear iCloud storage on Mac using the System Preferences.

  1. Open System Preferences, then click iCloud.

    iCloud setting in Mac System Preferences
  2. Click Manage.

    Manage iCloud storage button on Mac
  3. Click Backups.

    Backups option in iCloud settings
  4. In the list of backups that are saved to iCloud, select a backup, then click Delete to remove it. Click Delete again to confirm.

    Deleting an iCloud backup on a Mac
  5. Repeat this process for any backed up data you want to delete by selecting a different heading on the Manage screen.

Manage Your Backup Options per Device

Another way to clear iCloud storage is to reduce the number of apps you back up and to not back up apps that aren't important to you.

  1. Open Settings, tap your name, then tap iCloud.

    The iCloud item in iPhone settings
  2. Tap Manage Storage, then select Backups.

    Manage Storage and Backups options in iCloud Storage
  3. Tap the name of the device.

  4. In the Choose Data to Back Up section, select Show All Apps, if it's available.

  5. Turn off the toggle switches for the apps you don't want to back up.

    Choosing data to back up on an iPhone
  6. Turn these switches back on whenever you want.

Manage Global Backup Options

If you back up multiple devices to iCloud, follow these steps to turn off app backups for all your devices without having to go into their pages in storage.

  1. Open Settings, tap your Apple ID, then tap iCloud.

    The iCloud item in iPhone settings
  2. In the Apps Using iCloud section, turn off the toggle switch of the app that you want to stop backing up. Then, confirm that you want to delete the existing backups.

    Remove apps using iCloud from an iPhone
  3. The existing backups must be deleted to stop backing up an app.

Delete Your Photos

The simplest way to manage iCloud storage is to delete photos, or at least the photos you no longer need. Doing this results in backups that occupy less storage space.

If the iCloud Photo Library is turned on, deleting a photo on one of your Apple devices will also delete it on the other devices.

Manage iCloud Storage by Visiting iCloud.com

One final method to clear iCloud storage space involves navigating to iCloud.com and erasing your backed up photos and files there.

  1. Go to iCloud.com and sign in to your iCloud account.

    How to erase or wipe iPad remotely
  2. Click Photos.

    Photos on the iCloud website
  3. Select the photos you want to delete, then click the Trashcan icon.

    Deleting photos from iCloud on a Mac
  4. Confirm that you want to delete the photos.