How to free up iCloud storage space by deleting unused Documents in the Cloud

How to free up iCloud storage space by cleaning up unused documents and data

If you use an iPhone, iPad, or Mac with Documents in the Cloud, you can use up a lot of your iCloud, you can use up a lot of space quickly. Since Apple only provides a paltry 5GB for free, and only 50GB maximum, it pays to clean it out as often and as well as you can. Luckily you can delete documents and data stored in any app right from your iPhone or iPad, even if you saved it in a Mac app.

How to clear out unused documents and data in iCloud

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap on iCloud.
  3. Choose Storage & Backup.
  4. Tap on Manage Storage.
  5. Under the Documents & Data section tap on an app you'd like to view what documents are being stored in iCloud.
  6. Tap on the Edit button in the upper right hand corner.
  7. Tap on the Delete button to the left of the item to delete it and then tap again on the right to delete it.
  8. A popup menu will come up confirming the delete one last time, tap on Delete to confirm.
  9. Alternately, you can tap the Edit button and scroll to the very bottom and choose Delete All to remove all files stored by a specific app. This is handy for apps you may not even have installed or use anymore.

That's all there is to it! And remember, you can even manage Mac Documents in the Cloud from your iPhone or iPad, so there's no reason not to keep your iCloud storage under control.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Were you able to clear out a significant amount of your iCloud storage you didn't know was being used? Let me know in the comments!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to free up iCloud storage space by deleting unused Documents in the Cloud


The apps are stored under your iTunes account but do not count towards your iCloud storage limit (both in terms of storage and in terms of iCloud backups).

I've found I have to delete the iCloud backup every now and then bc it gets bloated. Let's say a year or so goes by and you have/had a bunch of pictures & videos on your phone, those have been sent up to iCloud Backup, your 5Gb is full, you delete the pictures or app data, but the available storage ISN'T changing. First step, get any remaining photos and videos off the phones: transfer to your PC, then delete them from the phone. if you have a mac you can use Image Capture to view and delete any or all pictures from your device. Then do a manual backup to iTunes. Now go back to the device and turn OFF iCloud backup, this will purge the backup data for that device and let you start fresh. Once it's finished, turn iCloud backup back on, and let it do its thing. The new back up will take a while since it's a fresh backup.

Has anyone encountered any reasons NOT to purge like this? To my experience, iCloud Backup is not like Time Machine, as in, there are NOT different shapshots that you can choose to revert to. I've only ever seen the one.

This rarely happens to me, maybe 2 times since iCloud was introduced. I don't go through the iTunes backup process though. I just delete the old iCloud backup then turn it back on and backup again at that moment.

I've only had to do it 2 times, also, I think. I've also tried to be more proactive with photo management.

You have a little more faith in the procedure not failing than I do I guess!

Sent from the iMore App

I can follow everything until I get into "Manage Storage". I do not see a list of apps nor do I even see the words "Documents & Data". I see my two devices - iPad and iPhone - as well as Mail, then the option to change my storage plan. I have even tried going into one of my devices and I still do not see "Documents & Data" - I see toggle switches for apps I want to back-up. Can you please help? I would really like to delete some documents and data. Thank you!