10 quick ways to clear space on an overstuffed Android device

What can be more annoying for a smartphone user than finding out that their Android device is out free space and you cannot install a new app or update? Luckily this is just a little annoyance that can be fixed in a few taps. Stale downloads on your phone can “eat” tons of megabytes or maybe even a few gigs – delete them, and you already have space for the new content. What else? Well, if you need space right now, you can wipe some of your vids and music tracks as well. Not the best solution, of course, so why don’t you try to clear all caches first? Sounds more interesting, right? If you still need more, read our guide and find what the best solutions for clearing space on Android devices are.

Tip#1: wipe all cached app data

Go to the Apps storage setting menu and select any app you want. You will see that the app you have chosen has “cached” data. It could be a hundred of kilobytes, or a few hundred megabytes too. If you think that these caches are important for the app, you’re wrong. Those are junk files, so you can delete them without a second thought to clear some space. The Clear Cache button in the same menu will do the trick.

If you have many apps on your device and you feel like it will take an eternity to clear their cache one by one, there is an option to erase all cached app data. Go to Settings, open Storage, tap Cached data and tap OK to confirm your action.

Tip#2: delete files in the Downloads folder

Android is an operating system for mobile phones, so it has a default Downloads folder just like you have it on your PC or Mac. Various unneeded files from the Web or downloaded by your apps just love to hang in this folder.

Go to the Downloads folder (also known as the Files folder on some Oreo and Pixel smartphones), and wipe off the dust from what’s lying there. See that menu icon with three lines in the top corner of the screen? Tap it and sort the files in the folder from big to small, then just delete the biggest pile(s) of junk to free as much space as you need. To select a file, tap it and hold your finger to confirm the selection, then send it to Trash with another tap.

Tip #3: delete photos that are saved on your cloud drive

Don’t you just love the Google Photos app with its fantastic features such as the automatic back up? When you are 100% positive that your photos and images are backed up, you don’t really need their copies on your smartphone. Launch the Photos app, tap the menu button in the top left corner of your screen, select the Free up device storage option. The app will calculate how many megabytes it can free for your after deleting the pictures. When you are ready, just tap OK and wait.

Important note: some Android users have the “High quality” setting active, which allows unlimited storing of the photos in low-res in the cloud. If you are one of them, be aware that the “Free up devices storage” option will delete the original photos in full-res. Be sure that you have copied your originals anywhere before wiping them from your device.

Tip#4: manage downloaded songs and podcasts

Google’s official music app lets its users select purchased tracks that will be downloaded onto the smartphone. Some users give the app a carte-blanche to download songs and albums for them instead. Either way, hardcore music fans will run out of space sooner or later. Podcast listeners are also in the risk zone due to the default settings of the Play Music app (automatic download of the last three episodes of each podcast subscription). If you listen to multiple podcast creators, the three episodes per author option will fill the space on your device very quickly.

Therefore, you need to manage the app’s settings and know exactly how much space Play Music reserves for podcast and songs. Tap the menu button with three lines (top left corner of the screen), select Settings, tap Manage downloads. You will see the orange Downloaded button next to each song or podcast saved on your device. Tap that button to delete an item from the local storage. The same trick works in other apps including Apple Music, Spotify, and even YouTube Music. The algorithm might different, but the idea remains the same – each app lets users delete everything they have downloaded. If you are using the Play Movies & TV app as well, then you should know that this method also works in it. 

Tip #5: delete offline areas data in Google Maps

When you cannot use Google Maps online for whatever reason, downloading maps to use them offline would be the best choice. In older versions driving directions as well as searching was not available offline. Today this feature works perfectly without an active Internet connection. The only problem here – the size of those maps you have to download. If you are a passionate traveler, you might run out of space sooner than you expected because one map for offline use may require up to 1GB of space or even more (depending on the size of the region).

We recommend you to open your Google Maps app and check how many offline maps you currently have and how much space they have consumed. While in the app, tap the Settings button in the top left corner, then go to the Offline section. All your offline maps are here – names, size, details, etc. If you no longer need a particular map, just tap its name and select Delete.

Tip #6: uninstall the apps you don’t use

We often see new cool apps in recommendations or ads and sometimes cannot resist the urge to try them out. If it does not live up to our expectations, we usually close them and forget about their existence. This is how over Android devices become overstuffed with unnecessary apps leaving us with no free storage space.

The solution is simple – open the list with all installed apps and delete those you are not using (or use the least). If you have too many apps on your smartphone, you might want to use another app that tracks your app usage. Apps like App Tracker, QuliatyTime, App Usage will detect the least used apps on your device with ease. Also, don’t forget to scan the library in your Play Store account.  

To see everything, you have installed on your phone, you will need to launch Play Store, tap the three-line icon in the top corner. Now go to My apps & games, then switch to the Installed tab. Sort the contents of the tab (the button for that is near the top-right corner of the interface). We recommend sorting either by Size or Last Used options. If you chose the Last Used option, scroll down to the bottom to the app you have been using the least. Did you find anything you don’t need? Tap it and uninstall it.

Tip #7: use storage tools integrated into Android Oreo

If you have Android Oreo on your phone, you can use some built-in tools that will help you to manage and track space on the device. Open the Settings app and go to the Storage tab. You will see a convenient rundown of every app and tool that consume space on your smartphone. The same approach was tested on Android Nougat, yes, but in Oreo, it was perfected. Now you have better control over the system and files. Tap any section to see all related apps (along with their size). To clear a section, you just tap the “Free up space” button. Note: during this procedure, all files within the app will be deleted as well.

The storage manager on Android Oreo phones also received a new button – “Free up space.” Once you tap it, the system will show you a list of your downloads and least used apps. Plus, it lets you wipe backed up videos and pictures. This button works as a handy little shortcut that makes your life easier. 

Tip #8: use smart storage

Oreo smartphones have another great option called Smart Storage. It is a toggleable option that can work on its own. Turn it on to let your device automatically delete the fattest space thieves – video clips and photos.

Let’s be honest, we often forget to clear pictures and videos that have been copied to the cloud. So why not allow the system to delete backed-up items automatically after a month or two? It is a good solution to prevent overstuffing of your phone.

Tip #9: buy an SD/microSD card

Not all Android smartphones have a card slot in 2019. But if your device has that slot, it should not be a problem for you to expand the storage limits of your phone. If you are not planning to shoot videos in 4K with your camera, a simple SD (or microSD) card will cost you a few bucks. We recommend getting a card from the best manufacturers like SanDisk or Samsung that has at least 32GB. The more space your card has, the bigger the price will be. But the price per gigabyte will be lower in this case, so going for the biggest card is a wise and cost-effective solution (depending on your budget, of course). Quick tip: when buying a new SD/microSD card, calculate the price of one gigabyte – if it is $0.4 or less, it is a good deal.

Installing your new card is not rocket science. No formatting, no software checks required – just slide the card into the appropriate slot and enjoy double, tripled, or even quadrupled storage space for your media and files.

Tip #10: use Google Drive more

Google Drive offers 15GB of free space in the cloud for everyone, so why wouldn’t use it? Unsorted contents of your Downloads or Files folders can be moved to the Google Drive to access them later. Tap the menu button and select “Send to…” After that, you can tap the “Save to Drive” option and select folder/files to be copied to the cloud. When your files are backed-up, feel free to delete them from your phone. Everything you upload to Google Drive can be accessed online or downloaded back at any time. 

Some users need more than 15GB to save their podcasts, audiobooks, music albums, movies, etc. If you are one of them, Google offers an upgrade to 100 gigs of space for $1.99 a month. Or you can pay an extra buck to make it $2.99 for 200 gigs.