What Is Stored In The “Other” Category On My iPhone And How Can I Get Rid Of It?

Have you ever noticed that the “Other” storage section on your iPhone or iPad is quite large? Have you ever wondered what comprises this “Other” category? When you connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac, you’ll see a bar like the one pictured. This bar depicts the primary storage categories and shows their relative size.

In my case, you can see that my three largest categories are Audio files (750 MB), Apps (5.7 GB) and Other (2.67 GB). This tip will explain what’s stored in this Other category and help you to free up space on your iPhone or iPad.

All Storage Categories

Currently, Apple divides iPhone and iPad storage into about a half dozen categories:

Audio, Video, Photos, Apps, Books, Documents & Data, and Other

Essentially, anything that is stored on your device that doesn’t fit into one of the specific categories gets lumped into the Other category. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Text Messages and their attachments
  • Email messages
  • Web browser cache
  • Safari’s offline reading list
  • Call history
  • Notes
  • Application data
  • Voicemail messages

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t let you easily get a breakdown of the Other category to see how much each of these sub-categories contributes to Other’s overall size. Instead, you have to do some sleuthing.

If the device is running iOS 8.x, I typically start my sleuthing by waking it up. Then I tap on Settings, General, Usage and Manage Storage. You’ll then see a list of your Applications sorted by how much space they take up on the device. Tap on an App to see how much space the application itself consumes and how much space its data consumes. Hopefully, you’ll find a few apps that are consuming lots of storage space and realize that you can delete this data.

Deleting this data isn’t always straight forward or fast. Typically, you have to open the specific app and manually remove data from it. In my case, I had dozens of old voice memo recordings that I no longer needed. I opened Voice Memos, tapped Edit and then manually removed each recording. It’s common for the Messages app to have hundreds of megabytes or even gigabytes of data in it since people send photo and video attachments. If your device is full of lots of data within Messages then open that app and manually delete individual messages or entire conversations. This article from OSXdaily provides step-by-step instructions on how to do this.

If you’ve performed the housekeeping I list in this article and your Other category is still quite large then you may be experiencing one of the following problems:

1. iTunes sometimes seems to erroneously listing too much data in the Other category. Reportedly, doing the following can help with this issue:

  • Connect the iPhone or iPad to your Mac and open iTunes
  • Click on iPhone/iPad icon in iTunes, then click on the Summary section and scroll down to Options
  • Click the checkbox next to “Open iTunes when this iPad (iPhone) is connected” so that is is unchecked, then click it again so that it is checked
  • Click the Apply or Sync button that appears in the lower right corner.

This forces iTunes to recalculate the amount of space truly used by Other.

2. I’ve seen some devices that are somehow confused and report an inaccurate amount of storage space used. When I’ve encounter this, the only fix I could figure out was to completely erase the iPhone or iPad and Restore the device. This is a risky procedure, so I don’t typically recommend that users do this on their own. If one is going to do this, it’s essential that they have one or more backups of their iPhone or iPad stored on their Mac. More details about how to restore an iPhone or iPad can be found in these articles from Apple and Appducate.

In an effort to be thorough, I should also mention that I recently read about PhoneClean, which claims to be able to help clean-up iPhones and iPads. This is a paid application that will run on either your Mac or PC. It’ll scan your device and help you delete messages or other data that is consuming space on your device. You can read more about this application at iGeeksBlog. I haven’t used this application and thus can’t recommend it.

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