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How to free up storage space on your iPhone or iPad in minutes

Running out of space on your iPhone or iPad? Here’s how to delete unnecessary junk and get rid of unwanted clutter to get some extra storage space for your apps and media, in just a few easy steps.

Step one: Delete any apps you no longer use

Simple one, this, but very effective. Just browse through your desktops and find any apps that you rarely use (do you really need that hilarious ‘fart noise’ app?) and tap and hold your finger on them. When they start to shake, tap the mini ‘X’ that pops up in the top left corner to delete them from your phone.

Unsure about whether it’s worth deleting an app? Head to your iPhone’s settings and then head to General > Storage & iCloud usage > Manage Storage. In here you can see exactly how much space each app is taking up. Games are likely to use the most space, with the latest action titles often taking up a gig or more.

Step two: Organise your photos

The excellent Google Photos app allows you to store your snaps and home-made videos in the cloud for free, so head to the App Store and download it right now. You’ll need a Google account to use Google Photos, so sign up if you haven’t already.

With that done, tap the menu icon in the top left of the Photos app (which looks like three horizontal lines) and choose ‘Settings’. Finally, tap ‘Backup & sync’ and make sure that this is turned on. Any photos that you snap on your iPhone will be saved to Google’s cloud service, so you can safely delete them from your mobile to free up space – but we highly recommend checking your Google Photos account from another device first, to make sure that they’re definitely backed up. After all, you don’t want to accidentally lose that photo of your mate Dave lying face-down in a puddle of his own stomach contents after too many shandies.

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Back in your iPhone’s Settings, you should also head to Photos & Camera and check that ‘My Photo Stream’ is deactivated. Otherwise your iPhone’s storage will be cluttered with photos taken on your other iOS devices (if you’re flush enough to own more than one Apple gadget). You can also turn ‘Keep Normal Photo’ off, so you don’t end up with two copies of every HDR photo you take.

Step three: Stream, don’t download

These days it’s not too expensive to grab an ‘AYCE’ (All You Can Eat) data contract, which allows you to download and browse the web to your heart’s content at no extra cost – provided you’re in the UK, of course.

As a result, it’s possible to delete pretty much all of the music and videos from your iPhone and just stream instead. Services such as Spotify and Netflix offer a massive catalogue of online content which you can dip into as much as you like – although you’ll need a decent connection to take advantage, of course, and you’ll be hit by horrific roaming charges if you try and do the same abroad.

Step four: Blitz the messaging apps

If you never actually bother to read your old iPhone messages in a bout of sudden sentimentality, then head to Settings > Messages and change the Keep Messages value to 30 days. This will cause your messages to automatically delete after one month, to free up space.

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And if you use third-party messaging apps on the side, these could also be eating up valuable storage. For instance, WhatsApp users should try going into one of their popular conversations and tapping the Media/Group Media option in the settings. This will bring up all of the photos that have been sent back and forth in the conversation, which can be deleted en masse to free up more space. Thankfully these pics do get deleted as time passes, so you should only bother with this step if your mates send a lot of photos.

Step five: Update to iOS 9

If you manage to scrape together enough storage space to download the iOS 9 update, we highly recommend doing so. Now that the bugs have been worked out, iOS 9 is a nicely streamlined version of Apple’s OS that takes up less space than iOS 8, giving you a couple of extra GBs to play with.

Read next: Five great iOS 9 features you may have missed

Got any space-saving tips of your own for iPhones and iPads? Let us know in the comments below.