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How to find and remove 'Other' files from iPhone and iPad

iPhone storage
iPhone storage (Image credit: iMore)

The "Other" category on your iPhone and iPad is where all of your caches, settings preferences, saved messages, voice memos, and… well, other data is stored. For the most part, it doesn't matter. If you have plenty of storage space on your iPhone or iPad, you don't even have to worry about it. However, if you're running low on space, and are hoping to free up space by finding and removing Other files from your iPhone or iPad, here are some tricks for purging that unneeded content.

Unfortunately, in iOS 15 and even in iOS 16, there's no simple way to identify and remove data in those pesky "Other" files. It does take some patience, but you can reduce the amount of space it takes up on your iPhone or iPad. Whether you have a new iPhone 14 or any other device, wasted space can be annoying. Follow the steps below to get started.

How to check your iPhone or iPad's storage space

You can quickly see what apps are taking up space in the "Other" files on your iPhone or iPad by checking out the Usage folder in the Settings app.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.

Open Settings and tap General (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap iPhone (or iPad) Storage.

Your device's storage is mapped out on a grid, showing what is taking up space in your "Other" files. If you scroll down to your apps, you'll see, listed by size, apps that are taking up the most space on your device.

Tap iPhone Storage

How to check your iPhone and iPad's storage space using your computer in macOS Catalina or later

You can also check your device storage space when your iPhone or iPad is connected to your computer. You'll find this information on Macs running macOS Catalina or later in Finder. You'll find it in iTunes on PCs and Macs running macOS Mojave and older.

In macOS Catalina or later, Apple has split up iTunes into three different apps, Podcasts, Music, and TV. That doesn't mean you can't connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac anymore, though. It just means it's moved.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac running macOS Catalina or later
  2. Open a Finder window.
  3. Click on the device icon in the sidebar under Locations. If you don't see your iPhone listed under Locations, try unplugging your iPhone and plugging it back in.

Checking iPhone storage space in Finder showing the steps to Launch finder and select your iPhone from the sidebar under Locations

Launch finder and select your iPhone from the sidebar under Locations (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click on the General tab in the Finder window.
  2. Hover your mouse over the Other section at the bottom of the Finder window to see how much space the category is using.

How to check your iPhone and iPad's storage space using your computer in macOS Catalina or later

You can see a graph of your iPhone or iPad's storage categories when connected to iTunes in the device Summary section. This is where you will see how much space the Other category uses.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes if it does not open automatically.
  3. Click on the device icon in the upper left corner of the screen.

Select a device
  1. Click on Summary in the menu on the left side of the iTunes window.

Device summary in iTunes
  1. Hover your mouse over the Other section at the bottom of the iTunes window to see how much space the category is using.

Checking the Other iPhone storage in iTunes

Try clearing Safari caches and the offline Reading List

Some culprits that take up space in your "Other" files on your iPhone and iPad are history and website data in Safari. These are useful for accessing websites quickly but are not a necessity.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap iPhone (or iPad) Storage.

Open Settings, tap General, tap iPhone Storage (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Scroll down and tap Safari.
  2. Tap Website Data
  3. Scroll down and tap Remove all Website Data.

Tap Safari, Tap Website Data, tap Remove Website Data (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Swipe to the left on Offline Reading List.
  2. Tap Delete.

Swipe to the left on Offline reading list, tap Delete (Image credit: iMore)

When you go back to your storage list, you will note that Safari no longer shows any data.

Try deleting old iMessages and Mail data

The Mail app automatically stores a cache of all the documents, pictures, and videos you have viewed on your iPhone or iPad on your device. This makes reloading them faster the second time around. But do you really to reopen that kitty GIF that your coworker sent you two years ago that often? You can remove the caches and free up precious storage space in those "Other" files.

Just as with emails, all of the pictures and videos you receive through MMS are stored in the Other category in your storage. You can delete entire conversations, set messages to delete after a certain period of time, or delete individual images and attachments.

As of iOS 11, Apple has automatically made it very easy to clear out these caches. You can enable auto-delete for old iMessages, review large email attachments and remove them from your iPhone or iPad, offload unused apps, and delete music or movies that you've downloaded to your device but don't actively access anymore.

We've got a detailed guide on how to free up storage space on your iPhone that should help you through this process.

Try restoring your iPhone or iPad from a backup

One of the biggest culprits taking up unusually large amounts of space in the "Other" files on your iPhone or iPad is a wonky bug in the system. The best way to track down and remove corrupted files is to burn it all down and start over. Don't worry, you can back up your device before you delete everything. That way, you can start fresh without starting over. Here's how to restore your iPhone or iPad from a backup.

Still not fixed?

Still not fixed?

If you're still getting an Out of Storage error on your iPhone and removing data in the Other category doesn't seem to have done the trick, you can try offloading some additional content from your device.

I know this problem can be frustrating, but the steps above are usually enough to get it sorted out. If you are still having issues with "Other" flies clogging up your storage space, it may be time to reach out to Apple Support. Hopefully, these steps have you and your best iPhone all cleaned up and ready for action.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

With contributions from