How to free GBs of space on an iPhone without deleting photos, apps and files – the Cleopatra trick

Although Apple finally removed the 16GB storage tier for all iPhone models this year, there are a great many number of iPhone users who use the 16GB iPhone. If you are an iPhone user like me who ended up buying the 16GB model to save a little money, then you might be a doing balancing act of deleting the unused apps, backing up your photos, deleting messages, photo and video from your WhatsApp etc, right? While there are some obvious things to do to free up space, there are also some hidden tricks by which you can gain GBs of storage space. Before we jump on to this nice trick let us check out the obvious and smart things that free up space on your iPhone.

  1. Upgrade to iOS 10.3: Apple’s new file system, Apple File System (APFS) included in iOS 10.3 is optimized for flash and solid-state drive storage. According to Apple Insider, there has been a gain of space of almost 8GB in a 256GB model. But don’t expect a gain of 6-8GB in your 16GB or 32GB. As Apple Insider explains, the more memory you have, the more free space iOS 10.3 will reclaim.
  2. Backup Photos using Google Photos: Google Photos is basically a cloud storage for your photos. It works great with iOS too. Google Photos offers unlimited photos and videos for free, up to 16 megapixels and 1080p HD. Photos that are safely backed up can be removed from your device’s storage in just a tap.
  3. Remove “Other” Data on your phone: When you connect your iPhone to a computer and open iTunes, you would encounter the “Other” section in little iTunes usage bar graph. Check out this tip by OSXdaily on how to manage this issue
  4. Use Progressive Web Apps (PWA): Although PWA offers to free up app space, iOS doesn’t fully support it at this point. Some features such as Add to Home Screen and Push Notifications, are available in some form in Safari but are not implemented in standard ways. To give you a comparison of the Space utilization for an App VS PWA, the Twitter app has a size of 196 MB in the app store. But the PWA app for twitter is just 1-2MB!
  5. Stream your music instead of downloading them
  6. Remove offline reading list data in Safari: This can be done by navigating to Settings and then General > Usage > Manage Storage > Safari. Then, go to Offline Reading List and tap Delete.
  7. Clear the Safari browser cache: To clean up the cache, simply go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.
  8. Remove items from iBooks
  9. Disable using My Photo Stream: Go to Settings > iCloud > Photos, then turn off My Photo Stream
  10. Delete Burst Mode photos
  11. Don’t keep both photos when you enable HDR mode. Go to Settings > Photos & Camera, then deselect Keep Normal Photo

If you have tried most of the above-mentioned tips and still find yourself with less storage space then follow this trick to gain more space.  This trick forces iOS to clear it OS cache. There has been an ongoing argument that since this is a system level cache it would have been freed anyway when you actually needed the space. But this does not seem to work if you are in the middle of taking a video and run our of space.

Step 1

Check how much space you have left on your device. You can do this by clicking Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage. If the space available is less than 4GB proceed to step 2

Step 2

Navigate to the iTunes Store app and Search for the Movie Cleopatra. 


Step 3

Why Cleopatra? Well, this 1963 classic has a runtime of 4 hr 11 min. One of the biggest movies available for download via iTunes Store Cleopatra is of the size 9.7 GB for 1080p, 8.71 GB  for 720p, 3.68 GB for SD.

Step 4

Tap the Buy button that has the amount and “Buy” written on it. Once tapped that button will turn “Buy HD Film”. Tap on it. Don’t worry you will not be charged. A progress indicator will start. At this point, in the background, the OS is clearing its cache. The progress indicator will stay for a few seconds to a minute, depending the amount of free space that can be attained.

Step 5

After the wait, you will be presented with one of below screen. The first one shows that the Movie cannot be downloaded as there is no enough space available. But actually the cache has been cleared but the free space is below 8GB (the HD version of the movie is 8.71 GB). Tap OK to exit out of the alert.

The second one asks for your Touch ID authentication. DO NOT PRESS ON THE HOME BUTTON at this point else the purchase will be authenticated and the movie will start to download. Tap Cancel. In this case, you were able to free up space in excess of 8GB.


Step 6

Now verify the free space available your device. Navigate to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage. If you followed the steps mentioned above you should be able to gain GBs of space. In my case, I was able to free up 1.13GB.