How to Expand the Storage on Your iPad

Need more space on your iPad? No problem!

One disadvantage of the iPad is the lack of an easy way to expand storage internally. While today’s iPads come with at least 64GB of storage, and you can opt for models with storage as high as 2TB if you buy an iPad Pro, some users might need more storage due to demanding apps and extensive video and photo collections.

If you have an older iPad with meager storage or if you're looking for ways to increase your iPad's storage capacity, here are some tips for creating more storage on your iPad.

Woman drinking a coffee and using an ipad
Nomad / Getty Images

Use Cloud Storage

You can't expand the storage on your iPad for apps, but you can for almost everything else, which should leave plenty of room for apps.

Cloud storage is a great way to store documents, photos, and videos. The iPad comes with iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library, but you can also use a third-party service such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Cloud storage uses the internet as a second hard drive. It uses the storage space from an external location for your storage needs. Most cloud storage solutions also offer some free space to get you started.

The best part about cloud storage is that it is disaster-proof. No matter what happens to your iPad, the files stored online will still be there. Even if you lose your iPad and have to replace it, you'll be able to access your data.

The best use of cloud storage is photos and especially videos. This type of media takes up a surprising amount of space, so cleaning out a photo collection and moving it to the cloud can free up several gigabytes of storage.

Stream Your Music and Movies

Music and movies also take up space on an iPad, which is why it's better to stream them instead of store them. If you own digital movies, stream them directly to your iPad with the TV app without downloading them. The TV app works with most streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video.

Multiple services will stream your music collection, but the easiest option is Apple Music, which includes iTunes Match. iTunes Match analyzes your Apple Music library and streams the music to iOS devices.

Attach an External Drive or Flash Drive

Attaching an external drive to your iPad is an excellent way to increase its storage capacity. With iPadOS and its file-management capabilities, the iPad gained the ability to support external drives and USB-based flash drives. This allows you to store media files on inexpensive external storage and save your iPad space for critical apps.

To connect an external hard drive, USB drive, or SD card reader to your iPad, use a compatible adapter to connect the device to your iPad's charging port. Then, use the Files app to view the drive's contents.

Here are some tips about attaching external storage to your iPad:

  • When choosing an external hard drive, make sure it works with the iPad. Compatible drives include a free app that enables the iPad to communicate with the hardware.
  • If you're opting for an external drive instead of a flash drive, opt for a portable one powered by a USB port.
  • With external drives, as opposed to USB drives, you'll need to use Apple's adapter to convert it to a Lightning connection.
  • Wireless external drives and wireless flash drives can connect to your iPad over a dedicated wireless connection. Since they're portable, you can dedicate multiple drives to specific purposes.
  • If you're using a flash drive, opt for one with a Lightning connection so you won't need any additional adapters.
  • If you have an iPad Pro with a USB-C port, you'll need a USB-C to Lightning adapter.

Ensure you're running the latest iOS version to maintain compatibility with storage accessories.

Free up Space on Your iPad

If you've exhausted options for external storage, consider freeing up as much space as possible on your iPad to maximize your current storage situation.

Go to Settings > General > iPad storage and assess your remaining free space. Start by deleting unused apps, and check bloated apps for unnecessary media collections. For example, your Podcast app may have downloaded files you don't need.

If you have your Messages app synced to your iPad, stop unnecessary storage of files and attachments by limiting how long you keep messages to 30 days.

Clearing your browser cache can also free up space. Go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data to remove cached data, such as your browsing history.

To let Apple help you decide what to delete, check out the recommendations for clearing up space in the iPad storage settings.

  • How do I split the screen on an iPad?

    To use the iPad's split-screen feature, called Multitasking, open an app, and then tap the Multitasking button at the top of the screen. Tap Split View or Slide Over. Your current app will move to the side and your Home screen will appear. Now you can open the second app.

  • How do I take a screenshot on an iPad?

    To take an iPad screenshot, press the Home and top or side button simultaneously. If it doesn't have a Home button, press the Power and Volume Up buttons at the same time.

Was this page helpful?