iPad out of space? Free up (a lot) of memory by doing this

How much space do you have left on your iPhone or iPad? Have you ever looked? Is your iPhone or iPad out of space? Do you know what apps are the guilty ones?

As time goes on, our devices grow in terms of size to accommodate all the memory-hungry files and data we continually pack into them. Pictures and videos are generally the biggest culprits. But sometimes your device will throw you a curveball. Maybe apps like Pinterest or Facebook are taking the space. Before you go deleting pins or friends, you’ll be surprised to know the reason.

In two occasions in less than a week, two members of my family called to say their iPads were almost out of space. They were able to pinpoint Pinterest as one of the guilty apps. That seemed strange to me since Pinterest stores all of your preferences, images, pins, etc. on their website/server so you would never store any of that on your iPhone. I found the reason why.

Find out why it’s so full

Before I explain why Pinterest was taking up so much space, determine for yourself why you’re out of space and what you can do to free up additional. Here’s how on iOS:

  • Click on SETTINGS. Then click on GENERAL.
  • Tap on USAGE and wait. This takes some time on some devices. Patiencccce. It’s loading.
  • You’ll see Storage Available and Storage Used
  • Take action (below)
(+ CLICK TO ENLARGE) Simply click on General and then click on Usage to get to the next screen.


(+ CLICK TO ENLARGE) Give this screen some time to load as it may take a bit of time. Once it loads, you’ll see the amount of your storage used and available.

Almost instantly you’ll see images, music and videos are near the top. Videos take up way more space than images by default. So if you can delete any videos, that’s a great start. If they’re backed up to the iCloud and you don’t watch them, just dump them. You’ll have instant space. Images will take longer to remove. But same deal.

The hidden culprit

canstock7059738If you’re like my family members and an app like Pinterest is at the top, it’s because of the cache. A cache is a collection of files that you don’t see or access. The cache remember your habits, links to pages, searches, etc. and they store them so the next time you use the app, things happen faster. It’ll remember you visited a page so it may load it quicker because it has a blueprint already store of that page.

This makes it faster because you’re not asking Pinterest’s server to send you the images, text, etc. for the first time. That takes longer. You may not notice a difference, but when you have a lot going on on that little iPad, speed can start to tank with so many processes running.

So how much cache data has built up? One family member had 1 GIGABYTE! Think about it, if you have a 16GB iPad, you’ll free up 1/16th of that in seconds. That’s a big deal. For an iPad out of space, this is a savior.

How do I delete the cache?

The bottom line is, you don’t necessarily need the cache data. It will build again. So if you’re out of space and you need space NOW, there’s a simple trick to deleting the cache data…

Delete the app.

Yes, that’s right. Just press on the Pinterest or the offending app until it starts to shake, then click on the X. It will ask if you want to delete it. Click yes. Then go to the app store and download it again. Go back through the steps above and voila! You just freed up a crapload of space.

Warning – this isn’t always the case for all apps. Some apps DO save data to your device (some games, utility apps like word processors, etc.) but they generally won’t be one of those at the top of the list because they’re basic, small files. A good way to think about it is that if you have to log into the app and it’s a social site like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc. Then chances are it’s the cache that’s the culprit.

Example: If you look at this image of my iPad, you’ll see that videos, music and images are the top apps taking the most space. But look at Google+. 1 GB of space is taken up by that app. Since I log into Google+, most likely this is cache data. So I will delete the app and add it again to free up a gig.

iPad out of SpaceBut what about Spotify!? That’s a site I log into to stream music. Yes. But what about when you are offline and want to listen to music? Spotify has an option to take music ‘offline’ so you don’t need a signal to listen. Well, what it’s doing is DOWNLOADING the tune to my iPad so it’s accessible all the time.

But if I cancel Spotify’s subscription, the program is smart and just removes the music automatically from my iPad. If I were to delete the app and re-add it, I would lose the songs I took ‘offline’. But I could easily just have them added again.

When in doubt, go to your iCloud in settings and go to backups and click Back Up Now to save before you try it. You can always load a backup.

But clearing the cache on memory-hungry apps will fix the iPad out of space problem and get you back to surfing in now time. Good luck!

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About the author

Josh Benson


  • Thanks for the helpful information. Appreciate your help. I did delete the Pinterest after you had Tara tell me what to do but I will try the same with some other ones.

  • Thanks – it was BBC iPlayer filling up my Mum’s iPad. Think it’s weird that you have to delete the app and reinstall rather than being able to clear the cache.

    • Hi Emma: Thanks for the comment. You WON’T lose your pins if you delete the app, so go ahead and delete and reinstall. You’ll have to log back in once it’s re-installed, but then you’ll see all is back to normal (: Hope that helps!

  • Hi Josh, Just wanted to say TY for the information in this great article. Free’d up a lot of space on my iPad mini and will be heading over to my 82 year old Mom’s house this afternoon to do the same thing for her so she can get back to playing her favorite casino games on her iPad mini! She will be so happy! Thanks again! Have a great day!

  • Josh,Words with friends app is hogging up 3.5 Gigs ! Will I lose my friends and stats against them by deleting and re install ?

  • Mine is filled up with Magic Puzzles and I really don’t want to delete that app so I deleted alost everything else. The puzzles are what I primarily use the ipad for.

  • I’m confused!!! Deleting Pinterest doesn’t delete my pins? Who the heck is going to repin and recollect everything??? that’s not possible if you have tons …you’re free to laugh at my IT illiteracy. Lol

    • It WILL NOT delete your pins. Those are stored on Pinterest servers. Your app is just a delivery system to use their site and pin more things. You can safely delete the app, reinstall and sign in and your pins will be there. (: Good luck.

  • words with friends is a real PIG and will eat up MANY GIGABYTES on an iPad – the app is poorly written and offers NO settings to control cache – BAD BAD BAD code!

  • Josh – got 4g showing in mail. I cannot find a way of deleting emails over a year old. System Invites you to delete everything All emails! Any ideas please ?

  • Josh Mail is showing more gigabytes. Have tried to delete all emails over one year. However system invite you delete all emails as only option. Any ideas please? I do have an iMac.

    • Hey Dave: Thanks for the comment. You’ll want to go to the source of your email. Who hosts your email, GMail? Outlook? Something else? You’ll want to log into the host of your email and delete the emails from there. If you have email set up with IMAP, you will see your inbox change automatically and show less emails. If you set it up with POP, you’ll need to delete them from your app and they won’t return. POP pulls a COPY from the server. IMAP actually uses the actual email from the server. Hopes that makes sense.

    • Hi Sheila. Words With Friends can take up a lot of space over time. Here is how you can free up that space: Uninstall the App (your data will be saved online), choose the option delete app data if required. Once that’s all removed, you can go to the app store, download the app and log in. Your progress will be all saved. Hope that helps!

Josh Benson


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