How to Reduce Your iCloud Storage

Three ways to free up space in iCloud

What to Know

  • Click iCloud Drive, select a file or folder, and click the trash icon to delete.
  • Delete app backups: Go to Settings > your name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups > device. Tap toggle.
  • Delete iMessage attachments: Open Messages > tap conversation > name > See All > attachments > Delete.

This article explains how to reduce your iCloud storage and free up space by deleting files from iCloud Drive, removing large app backups from iCloud, and deleting iMessage attachments on iOS devices and the Mac.

What Can I Do When iCloud Storage Is Full?

Apple offers you a minimal amount of iCloud storage for free and slightly more at a discount. If your iCloud storage fills up, you have to either sign up for a more expensive plan or free up some storage by deleting what you have stored there.

If you don’t want to upgrade, or you’ve already upgraded but would like to switch to a cheaper plan, there are several ways to free up iCloud storage:

  • Remove large files: Storing photos and other large files can take a lot of space.
  • Delete app backups: You can delete app backups to save space on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Delete Message app attachments: Free up space by deleting images you receive through iMessage.

Do you have several family members who all use Apple devices? You may be able to save money and avoid the hassle of freeing up space by signing up for a larger iCloud storage plan and then enabling Family Sharing.

How to Delete Large Files From iCloud Storage

The best way to free up space on iCloud storage is to delete large files. Videos, images, apps, archives, and other files can take up a lot of space, and you can delete them by using the iCloud Drive manager on the iCloud website. Files deleted in this way are immediately removed from your iCloud storage, but backups are retained for a little while just in case you delete something accidentally.

  1. Navigate and log into

    The Apple ID field highlighted on
  2. Click iCloud Drive.

    iCloud Drive highlighted on the iCloud website.
  3. Click the file or folder you want to remove.

    Select files and folders in iCloud Drive.

    Hold down CTRL and you can click multiple items to remove at the same time.

  4. Click the trash icon.

    The trash icon highlighted on iCloud Drive.
  5. The selected item or items will be removed immediately.

    Recently Deleted highlighted in iCloud Drive.

    If you deleted something accidentally and want it back, click Recently Deleted in the bottom right corner of the window. You can recover deleted files for up to 30 days.

How to Delete App Backups From iCloud

If your iPhone or iPad automatically backs itself up to iCloud, those backups end up taking a lot of space. You can’t altogether remove one of these backups from iCloud without also removing the corresponding device from your account, but you can delete backup data for specific apps.

Deleting app backup data from iCloud will also prevent that app from backing itself up in the future.

Here’s how to delete app backups from iCloud:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad, and tap your name at the top of the settings screen.

  2. Tap iCloud.

  3. Tap Manage Storage.

    iCloud storage options from iPhone settings.
  4. Tap Backups.

  5. Tap one of your devices.

  6. Tap any of the app toggles to delete the corresponding backup data from iCloud.

    Managing app backups in iCloud Storage settings.
  7. Tap Delete.

  8. The app backup will be removed from iCloud.

    Turn Off & Delete highlighted in iCloud app backup.

How to Delete iMessage Photos From iCloud

When iMessage messages and photos are backed up in your iCloud, you can end up using a lot of space. To free up that space, delete specific iMessage attachments.

Deleting Messages App Photos on iOS Devices

Here’s how to delete attachments in the Messages app on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Tap the Messages app.

  2. Select a conversation that contains attachments.

  3. At the top of the screen, tap the person’s name.

    The iPhone Message app showing a conversation
  4. Scroll down and tap See All in the photos section.

  5. Tap Select.

    iPhone showing the Messages app Photos section
  6. Tap each image you want to remove.

  7. At the bottom of the screen, tap Delete.

  8. Tap Delete xx Attachments.

    iPhone showing the Messages attachments deletion option

Deleting Messages App Photos on a Mac

You can also remove attachments from messages in the Message app on a Mac. Here's how.

  1. Open the Messages app and select a conversation.

  2. Scroll through the conversion until you reach an image/attachment you want to delete.

  3. Right-click (Control-click) in the blank white space next to the attachment.

  4. In the pop-up menu, select Delete.

    Message app on a Mac showing the deletion option for attachments
  • How do I reduce iCloud storage on a Mac?

    Go to System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud > Manage. Highlight apps to view details about storage, turn off or remove backups, or delete apps from iCloud. To remove individual files from iCloud, go to Finder > iCloud Drive.

  • How do I reduce iCloud photo storage?

    On an iPad or iPhone, open the Photos app > tap Library or Albums > Select > choose the photos to delete > Delete (trash can icon). On a Mac, click Photos > highlight the images to delete > Delete.

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