iOS 11’s storage tools help you save precious space


With each major iOS release, Apple has consistently added features to help users identify items taking up storage space and how to best get rid of it. As of iOS 11, Apple is taking that approach one step further and providing a clear break down along with tools to offload unused apps or data.

iOS suggestions

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

To view the new tool, open Settings > General > iPhone (or iPad) Storage.

A colorful chart will populate at the top of the page. Each color represents a different app or type of data taking up space.

Just beneath the chart is where you will find suggested actions you can take to free up space on your device. For example, if you don’t use iCloud Photo Library you will have the option to enable it with an estimate of how much space it can save you.

Another option is Messages in iCloud, which is a fancy name for syncing your iMessage conversations between all of your Apple devices. Apparently, it also offloads attachments to iCloud servers, instead of your devices.

As you scroll down the iPhone Storage page, you will start to see a list of installed apps, how much space each one is using, and the last time you used the app. 

Offload apps… wait, what?


Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

There’s yet another option not pictured in the above screenshots. Apple is asking users for permission to “Offload” unused apps. When it’s enabled, iOS 11 will determine which apps you don’t use all that often, and when storage space is running low, the app will be removed from your iOS device. Don’t worry, should you need the app in the future iOS 11 will save all of the data and documents associated with the app.

To enable automatic offload of apps open Settings > iTunes & App Store. Towards the bottom of the screen is a Offload Unused Apps toggle. 

Take GarageBand as an example. The app itself is 1.6GB, and I currently have a whopping 6.3MB of data associated with it. Offloading this app will free up 1.6GB of storage, but leave the 6.3MB of data on my device.

Offloading an app can also be done manually, if you prefer more control over, by tapping on an app in the iPhone Storage setting menu and then Offload App.

Furthermore, if an app’s overall size isn’t much, but documents and data are to blame for taking up too much space, iOS 11 still gives you the option to delete data from the app.

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