How to Free Up Space on Android

It doesn’t take much effort to fill up your storage space in Android, especially if you’ve got a phone that only comes with 8 or 16GB of space. Once you subtract the operating system data from the device’s available storage, that doesn’t leave a lot for apps, photos, and videos.

How to Free Up Space on Android

After you start loading up your favorite apps and taking beautiful photos and videos, things start getting crowded fast. Around this time, you might notice your phone bogging down, frequent random restarts, and other bugs or glitches.

In addition to the operating system space consumption, there needs to be some free space for Android to run freely. Without much available internal storage space, you start experiencing the problems above.

So, with internal storage that is under 16GB, how do you free up enough space to hold onto your favorite apps, photos, and videos with enough left over for Android to function properly? It’s not impossible, especially with features in recent versions of Android. Here’s how to free up space on your Android device, whether you have a tablet or a smartphone.

Free Up Storage on Android Oreo and Above

Storage issues described above were troublesome in early versions of Android, but Android 8.0 Oreo changed things a little to make the system more efficient. In Oreo, Android groups everything into categories. For example, in your Storage option, there will be a Photo & Videos category, which shows you not only the cumulative space photos and videos are taking up, but also photo- and video-related applications (i.e., Google Photos).

Google isn’t able to fit everything into a specific category. That’s what Other Apps and Files categories are for, and those are likely the labels where you’ll find the most content to delete.

Aside from that, Android 8.0 Oreo up to the latest 11.0 Red Velvet Cake has a neat feature to get rid of useless data. Under the Storage setting, there’s a Free Up Space button. Once you tap this button, Android brings up a long list of Downloads, photos, and videos that have already been backed up (thus, don’t need to be stored locally), and infrequently used apps. Android won’t get rid of these automatically, you have to go through and check what you want to delete, and then you can select the Free Up button to get rid of all that content. It’ll tell you how much space you’re freeing up right next to that button.

Maybe that didn’t free up enough space for you. That said, we’ll have to go through applications manually and make sure they’re not taking up too much space. Some applications can accumulate a lot of data over time, particularly streaming services. Therefore, cache and data will need to be cleared manually. Simply click through your apps, such as Pandora, and select the big blue Clear Data and Clear Cache buttons.

The processes described above are similar in Android 7.0 Nougat and lower; however, Nougat doesn’t have the neat Free Up Space button. You’ll have to go through your apps individually and check them for the amount of space they’re taking up or download the new Files by Google app to free up space.

Cleaning Photos, Video, and the Cloud

If you didn’t realize already, photos and video take up a ton of space, especially photos in their highest possible definition. Photos usually sit at a few megabytes each, but once you start accruing hundreds and then thousands of photos, that takes up a lot of space.

One way you can free up space in this area is by using Google Photos, which will allow you to send your photos and video to the Cloud. You’ll never have to store photos and videos locally again.

  1. Open Photos or install it from the Play Store. Sign in with your Google account if prompted.
  2. Next, tap your profile pic near the top of the app, and select “Photos settings.”
  3. Tap on “Back up & sync.”
  4. Ensure that the backup slider is set to the “On” position.
  5. For more space-saving options, choose “Back up device folders” at the bottom.
  6. Slide the switch/button to the “On” position for any folders you’d like to add. Generally, the “Screenshots” folder is the only choice, but you may find others like “recycle.”

Here, sending all of your photos and video to the Cloud is easy. Simply turn the Backup & Sync slider on or off. When you turn it on, Google will automatically back up all of your photos and videos to the Cloud—plus any additional folders you chose.

Now, you can get rid of the device copies of your photos and videos, whether you transfer them to a PC to preserve full resolution or just delete them. Select the photos that were backed up (you can select them by album to speed up the process), and then at the top, select the vertical ellipsis (three-dot menu icon). Finally, tap the button that says Delete Device Copy. Your local photos and videos are deleted forever, but the Google Photo version remains in the Cloud, which you can pull from and view in the Cloud whenever you please.

If you followed the Android steps in this article, you might’ve attempted to already get rid of device copies of your photos and videos. However, the Free Up Space button only provides a quick check of photos and videos that are already backed up but doesn’t look through your entire library. That said, you might need to head into your preferred file browser and ensure that you’re device copies have been synced or transferred elsewhere, and then delete them from your smartphone. Don’t forget to check for other folders where you may have stored images.

Not a fan of Google Photos? You can also transfer photos and videos to other Cloud storage solutions, such as Dropbox.

Transfer Apps and Files to the SD Card

There are plenty of smartphones that come with microSD card slots now. The microSD card was disappearing in phones, but due to popular demand, they’re making a comeback, even in flagship phones. If your phone has a microSD card slot, we can expand our storage exponentially — you can move photos, videos, music, and depending on your Android version, even apps! If you don’t already have a microSD card, you can pick one up here.

The storage size you buy all depends on what your phone can support. Most flagship phones these days support 256GB or more, but go online and double check. If you just want a few gigabytes to add, a 32GB or 64GB microSD card will work great and won’t cost you more than $10 or $20.

Once you get your microSD card and throw it in the microSD card slot, if you have Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above, format it as portable or internal storage. Once done so, connect your phone up to your computer, head into the file system in your File Explorer, and then you can just drag or cut files over to your microSD card.

Moving Apps to the SD Card

You can also move many of your Android apps to your microSD card. Once you set it up as portable or internal storage, if you’re on Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above, Android will offer to automatically move some data over to the SD card. When you select this option, Android will intelligently move applications over to the SD card (apps that make the most sense). You can tell it to move apps now, or you can go through this process again later. If you choose to move your files and apps over, Android will let you know how much storage space you’re freeing up.

It’s worth noting that, if you formatted your microSD card as internal storage, you won’t be able to manually move applications over. It’s all an automatic process at this point.

If you’re on a version of Android older than 6.0 Marshmallow, you can move some apps over to Android using built-in options (again, only some apps). To do this, you would go into your Storage setting, and go through applications one by one, looking for a button that says something along the lines of Move to SD Card. It’ll move as much app data as it can the microSD card, as well as some cache data.


As you can see, freeing up storage space on Android is easy, but can be an involved process. By following the above steps you should be able to free up enough storage space to make Android work smooth as butter again, or at least free up space for other content that you might want to consume. Got your own tips? Be sure to leave us a comment in the comments section below!

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