How to reclaim storage space on your iPad

How to remove " Other" data stored on an iPad or iPhone 

If you’re running low on storage space on your iPhone or iPad, you may think you just have too many apps installed, or that your music collection is getting out of hand. But that may not be the case entirely. Instead, there might be a heap of hidden files that are taking up space on your iOS device. They’re not as easy to get rid of like apps are, but there are ways to free up this space.

When you plug in your iOS device to your computer and open up iTunes you can see what exactly is taking up space on your iPhone or iPad. You can also see the different categories the used memory is under, such as Apps, Games, Music, Movies, TV Shows and a mysterious category known as “Other.”

other on itunes

For some users, there’s over 10GB of storage that’s used up by this category, while for other users, it may be only a gigabyte or two. Either way, it’d be nice to know what these files are.

Luckily, we do know what type of files are stored in the “Other” category. Mainly, any file that doesn’t fit into the other categories goes into “Other.” Basically, it consists of data on your iOS device that isn’t apps, photos, music or videos.

  •   Safari bookmarks and history
  •  Text messages (including multimedia attachments such as photos)
  •  Email messages (including file attachments)
  •  Calendar entries
  • Notes
  •  Contact photos
  • Camera roll
  • Siri cache
  •  App data such as saved games and histories
  • Voice memos is in “Other?”
  •  Reduce email retention time
  • Cached data for all of the apps. 

 

Checking your “Other” space on an iPad or iPhone

Though there is no direct way to see “Other” space in iOS, you can get a rough idea by taking a peak at general space usage stats.

Open Settings, go to General, then go to Usage, then Manage Usage.

ipad usage

Every App which has data will be listed here. For example, a game which stores all the game plays and backups, a video app which stores videos synced across from iTunes, a magazine app which stores issues of the magazine. Examine each of the apps to determine where you can delete some of the data.  An App on its own may not take up that much storage space on your iPhone or iPad. Apps are usually fairly small, but with continuous usage some of them will expand to fairly large sizes due to local caches, saved games, components, and whatever else they decide to keep around.

Many apps have data which can be deleted to free up "Other"

Many apps have data which can be deleted to free up "Other"

Here's an example. The CineXPlayer holds 1.5 Gb of data. You’ll notice that the app itself is actually quite small - 37.1 mb whereas the data stored is 1.5 Gb The extra data here is what goes into your “Other” data. When you tap and open that entry, you only have one option: to Delete the app. Certainly, this will delete the data but also the app. To delete the 1.5 Gb requires going back to iTunes and deleting the videos from there and re-syncing.

Delete and Reinstall Apps with Bloated Data

However, other apps may need to be deleted and then reinstalled. Keep in mind that deleting apps and reinstalling them this way may cause you to lose local data, be it saved games, saved app caches, and certain app specific data and files, so you wouldn’t want to do this with apps that have locally stored data that is important to you.

Delete the Browser cache

If you’ve had your device for a long time and have never emptied the browser cache then there is a good chance that this will delete a large portion of the “Other” space. You can delete this cache by going to Settings -> Safari and tapping the Clear History and Website Data button. This may also result in a speed boost on your device if you have never deleted your browser cache before. This delete 1.5 Gb from my iPad.

Delete Safari browser cache - history, website data and cookies

Delete Safari browser cache - history, website data and cookies

Delete Mail Account and Re-Add

Deleting your Mail cache will delete the cache of all the media and documents viewed and downloaded in the Mail app. If you go back into Mail after emptying its cache you’ll have to re-download the media or document to view it again. All your mail is stored online so deleting your mail account won’t permanently delete everything, it’s all still there, you just need to re-add your account after removing it.

To delete your mail account, go to Settings -> Mail, Contact, Calendars -> Tap on the Mail account you want to delete -> Scroll to the bottom and click the “Delete Account” button. To add your account back, go to Setting -> Mail, Contact, Calendars -> tap “Add Account…”.

Delete Text Messages

You know where all of those pictures and videos you send / receive through text messages and iMessages are stored? It’s all stored in the “Other” category. The Messages app on your iOS device stores all of the text messages including any media files that were sent or received, dating back to the first text.

You can either delete the media one by one, or by deleting a whole conversation at once. Not everyone may want to delete the media in the messages, for those people, you should first copy the pictures / videos to your camera roll, then delete them. Plug your iOS device into iTunes after you’re done and you should see some of the “Other” storage space emptied out.

Empty out the Reading List

The Reading list in Safari is used to save website pages to the Safari cache. Since it actually saves the page to the device, every site page added takes up space because it stores it in the “Other” category. If you go to your device summary page in iTunes on your computer and view the “Other” section while removing sites from the Reading list, you can actually see the space slowly being emptied.

To remove items from the Reading List, open Safari on your iOS device -> tap the bookmarks button -> and then tap the Reading List button.

reading list in safari

Delete iTunes Backups

If you take this route, it may help to delete the browser cache as well as the Mail account as instructed above. To delete your iTunes backups, open iTunes, click iTunes in the Menu bar -> Preferences -> Devices tab -> then delete all the backups. Restart your device, close iTunes and then re-open iTunes. After deleting all the backups, make a new backup in iTunes and check to see if the other space has reduced.

Reset your iPad

What this does is wipes off all the temporary files, cache, cookies and stuff like album art which steals – a little bite at a time – large amounts of free space. This clears things a lot but not everything will be gone. There’ll still be some (or occasionally, a lot of) “Other” data.

You should also occasionally clear things from apps that store a lot of data. Most of the apps themselves have the lever to delete the data. Where it isn’t possible, you’re going to have to resort to erasing data.

Music can be one of the major causes too if you’ve not a lot of apps that store a ton of data. This means we’re looking at playlists, preferences, cache, art, lyrics data etc. To remove this, you’ll have to remove all music data and the re-sync from your iTunes.

 

Step 1: Take a backup of all data, preferably via iTunes instead of iCloud but if you’re happy with iCloud, you’re most welcome to backup on iCloud.

Step 2: Now, make sure – double or triple check you’ve got all your stuff backed up.

Step 3: Reset your iPad: Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Content and Settings

Step 4: Connect your iPhone to iTunes and restore from backup.

erase your ipad