Ways to Reduce iPhone Email Storage

Stop those annoying 'iPhone Storage Almost Full' warnings

For many iPhone users, the amount of storage space they have available on their devices is at a premium. With so many apps, photos, songs, and games on everyone's phone, it's easy to bump up against your storage limits—especially in you have an 8GB or 16GB phone

In that situation, you may find yourself without enough room to do what you want and need to free up some memory. Have you considered your email?

Having all your mail right at your fingertips on your iPhone is great, but email can also take up a lot of storage, and if you need all the free room you can get, it's an excellent place to consider making some changes. 

Animated mailman illustrating how to reduce iPhone email by eliminating spam.
Fanatic Studio / Getty Images 

Here are three ways to make email take up less space on your iPhone.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 12 and later.

Don't Load Remote Images

Most of us get a lot of emails with images in them, whether newsletters, advertisements, confirmations of purchases, or spam. Either way, to display the images embedded in each email, your iPhone has to download them. And since pictures take up a lot more storage space than text, that can add up to a lot of memory used.

If you're OK with your email being a little plain, you can block your iPhone from downloading this content. To do that:

  1. Tap Settings, and then select Mail.

    Settings and Mail on an iPhone
  2. Scroll down to the Messages heading and move the Load Remote Images slider to Off/white.

    Load Remote Images setting on an iPhone
  3. Even though you're blocking remote images (i.e., images stored on someone else's webserver), you'll still be able to see images sent to you as attachments.

Since you're not downloading as many images, it takes less data to get your mail, which means it will take longer to hit your monthly data limit.

Delete Emails Sooner

When you tap the trash can icon when reading email or swipe across your inbox and tap Delete, you may think you're deleting the mail, but you're not. What you're actually telling your iPhone is "the next time you empty my trash, make sure to delete this one." You don't delete the email immediately because iPhone email settings control how often the iPhone empties its trash.

All of the things waiting to be deleted still take up space on your phone, so if you delete them sooner, you'll free up space faster. To change that setting:

  1. Tap Settings from your home screen, and select Passwords & Accounts. Tap the email account whose setting you want to change.

    Selecting an email account on iPhone
  2. Tap Account, and then select Advanced and tap Remove under the Deleted Messages heading.

    Remove under the Advanced settings in an iPhone mail account on an iPhone
  3. Tap your selection. You can choose Never, After one day, After one week, or After one month. When you do that, emails that you delete will leave your phone -- and its storage -- on that schedule.

Not every email account supports this setting, so you'll have to experiment to see which you can use this tip with.

Don't Download Any Email at All

If you want to get really extreme, or just really want to use your storage space for something else, don't set up any email accounts on your iPhone at all. That way, email will take up 0 MB of your storage.

If you don't set up email accounts, that doesn't mean you won't be able to use email on your phone. Instead of using the Mail app, you'll instead go to the website for your email account (say, Gmail or Yahoo Mail) in your web browser and log in that way. When you use webmail, no email downloads to your phone.