How to Clear Space on iCloud

7 ways to free up storage space using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac

Is iCloud hassling you with warnings that your storage if full? Clearing space is the obvious solution, but it can prove easier said than done. Here's how to clear space on iCloud without blocking off an afternoon on your calendar.

View Your iCloud Storage

Take a moment to view a summary of your iCloud storage before you begin. You can access this by opening the Settings app on iPhone, iPad, or Mac and then selecting your Apple ID. This summary is also available in Account Settings on iCloud.com. The summary can quickly tell you what's consuming your iCloud storage.

Delete Old Backups Data

Your iPhone and iPad will back up to iCloud by default.

We don't recommend deleting Backups data for a device you currently use, but you can free up space by removing old devices you no longer use. These remain on your iCloud account until you remove them.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

  2. Tap Apple ID.

  3. Select Manage Storage.

  4. Tap Backups.

  5. You will see a list of iOS devices with Backups on your iCloud account. Select any listed device you no longer use and then tap Delete Backup.

    The Settings app with iCloud storage backups available for deletion.

Manage Videos and Photos in the Photos App

Deleting photos and videos you don't need is often the best way to clear our iCloud storage. They consume the bulk of iCloud storage for most people and unlike an app, file, or email, which you might eventually delete when it's no longer needed, videos and photos are rarely removed until it's a problem.

  1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

  2. On iPhone or iPad, tap on Albums and then scroll down to Media Types. Mac users will find Media Types listed in the left-hand navigation menu.

  3. You'll find a list of media under Media Types which includes videos, photos, panoramas, and other content. Clean the following media first, as they tend to consume the most iCloud storage space.

    • Videos
    • Slo-mo
    • Timelapse
    • RAW photos
    • Panoramas
  4. Delete videos and photos you no longer need.

    iPhone and iPad users can do this by selecting a video or photo with a long tap and then selecting Delete from Library.

    Mac users can right-click a file or files and then select Delete from the context menu.

    The Photos app with photos ready for deletion.

Delete Data From iMessage

iCloud users into heavy texting might be surprised at how much Messages data can pile up over time. Texts are often used to share photos and videos and they consume space just as they would in your Photos app.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

  2. Tap Apple ID.

  3. Select Manage Storage on iPhone and iPad or Manage... on Mac..

  4. You will see a list of apps consuming storage. Select Messages.

  5. Select Disable & Delete (Turn Off & Delete on Mac) to remove all Messages data from iCloud and prevent it from using storage.

    iPhone and iPad users can instead choose to delete only select data, such as Top Conversations. This will free up space now but won't prevent Messages from using iCloud storage in the future.

    iCloud storage and the option to delete Messages data from an iPhone.

Delete Attachments From Mail

The default Mail app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac will use iCloud storage to sync data like attachments between devices. This often doesn't take up much space, but users who frequently email large files may be surprised by how much space Mail consumes.

Unlike most apps, iCloud data in the Mail app can't be managed from the Settings menu on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You must search the Mail app and manually delete emails with attachments from your Inbox.

It's best to use a Mac for this, if possible, as selecting and deleting large groups of email is easier on Mac than on an iPhone or iPad.

Delete Data From Other Apps Using iCloud Storage

The method I described to delete Messages data from iCloud can also be used to delete data from most apps that use iCloud.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

  2. Tap Apple ID.

  3. Select Manage Storage on iPhone and iPad or Manage... on Mac..

  4. You will see a list of apps consuming data in iCloud. Selecting an app will show you data it's using and let you delete the data manually. This will delete existing iCloud data without blocking access to iCloud in the future.

    iCloud Storage and the option to delete data from an app on an iPhone.

Prevent Apps From Using iCloud

Still having iCloud storage issues, or just want to prevent them from occurring in the future? You can permanently turn off iCloud storage for most apps.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

  2. Tap Apple ID.

  3. Mac users will see a list of apps on the Mac that use iCloud. Uncheck the box next to an app to prevent that app from sending data from the Mac to iCloud storage.

    iPhone and iPad users will need to tap iCloud. This will display your iCloud storage summary and a list of apps using iCloud storage with a toggle next to each. Turn off the toggle next to an app to stop it from using iCloud storage.

Manually Clean Up iCloud Drive

Still need to clear space on iCloud? It's time to roll up your sleeves and manually delete files from iCloud Drive.

iPhone and iPad users can access iCloud Drive file storage through the Files app, while Mac users can access it through the Finder app.

You can make manual file management easier if you sort files by size. iPhone and iPad users should click the Options icon in the upper right corner, while Mac users should select the Sort icon in the Finder toolbar.

FAQ
  • How can I clear space on iCloud without deleting photos?

    If you use iCloud Photos, tap Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos > Optimize iPhone Storage. This setting conserves space by storing smaller files on your device and full-sized pictures in iCloud. Another option is to turn off iCloud backups for Photos and manually transfer photos to a computer.

  • How do I clear up space on iCloud from a PC?

    If you haven't already, download and launch iCloud for Windows. To remove old backups, select Storage > Backup > Delete. For iCloud Drive management, go to iCloud Drive > select files and folders to remove > Delete.

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