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iPhone memory full - how to delete "miscellaneous"

Kris Wallburg, Jason Cross

Your iPhone storage is filled to a large extent by data that your iPhone calls "other"? Here you can find out what data is behind it and how you can delete it.

Enlarge"Other" can fill the memory of your iPhone to a large extent.
© Shutterstock.com/slyellow

You're trying to download and install the latest version of iOS, snap some photos, or download that cool app a friend told you about, but your iPhone says the memory is full. The worst part is that a lot of it is just categorized as "other". What is that supposed to mean? How do you get rid of it?

First install the update, then clean it out

Apple did not point out the error in the release notes for iOS 13.6.1 update, but there is a new document in the support area with the description of the problem: Before iOS 13.6.1, the operating system could prevent the user from using the storage space on the iPhone or iPad. The data was gone, but the storage space was mostly allocated to the "Other" category and not released. This problem has now been resolved with the update from last week. Before clearing out, Apple recommends updating to iOS 13.6.1 first and then proceeding with the deletion. If there is not enough memory on the device for the new version, it can be updated via the computer in iTunes or Finder.

"Other" storage is not well defined and there is no one answer that works for everyone, but hopefully this guide will help you solve that problem.

View your iPhone storage

To see how much space all your apps and data are using on your iPhone's storage, open the Settings app, select General, then select iPhone Storage. At the top of the screen, you'll see a bar that shows your total iPhone storage space and what types of data is filling it up. Below that is a list of the applications on your phone and how much space they take up, both for the app itself and for the data stored.

EnlargeThe storage details of your iPhone can be found a few levels deeper in the settings.

It may take a few seconds for your iPhone to display the graph as it will take some time to scan and analyze the memory. Even after the graph is displayed for the first time, you should wait a few more seconds for it to stabilize as the values ​​and the app list can change while your smartphone finishes analyzing.

What is "other" anyway?

Your iPhone storage menu shows popular categories like Apps, Media, Photos, and Mail, but also a "Miscellaneous" category that is sometimes quite large. It's common for "other" to be several gigabytes, but when it's well over 10 GB it's out of control.

Is your iCloud storage also full? You can use these tips without a memory upgrade

The "Miscellaneous" category is diverse because it is a real collective category. It includes system files, caches, Siri voices (if you've downloaded other voices), logs, updates, and much more. One of the biggest contributors to an oversized miscellaneous category is the streaming of lots of music and videos. When you download videos or music from the iTunes Store, TV app, or music app, they are indexed as media. However, streams have caches that are used for smooth playback and these are categorized as miscellaneous.

Safari's caches can also get quite large. And if you're messaging and receiving tons of messages with pictures or videos, that can fill up a lot of space too.

You want your iPhone to manage these caches so that your memory doesn't get completely full, but that doesn't always work.

How to reduce the size of the "miscellaneous" data

You can't get rid of the rest of the data entirely, but you can usually make it smaller.

Let's try clearing your Safari caches first. Go to Preferences> Safari and choose Clear History and Website Data. If you have many Safari tabs open on your iPhone, you may want to close most of them too.

EnlargeClearing your Safari data can help.

You may also want to change the Messages app's settings to save less old messages. Open Settings, then Messages, and scroll down to the "Hold Messages" setting. By default, Keep Messages is set to Unlimited, but you can change the setting to 1 year or even 30 days to reduce the amount of data the Messages app caches.

EnlargeIf you text a lot, your Messages app might fill your memory with a lot of data.

Finally, go back to iPhone storage and look at the list of apps. Most of the apps store data that is categorized as apps, but some keep caches that are categorized as "other". For example, if the Podcasts app is taking up a few gigabytes of storage space, it's probably mostly cached data. Deleting the app and downloading it again could reduce the miscellaneous category significantly.

If nothing works: back up and reset your iPhone

You can try to clear every single small cache through your iPhone, but if you really want to clear all the unnecessary data, you need to back up and reset your smartphone. This can take a while.

The best way to do this is to use the Finder on your Mac (from macOS 10.15 Catalina) or iTunes on older Mac systems and Windows PCs.

Connect your iPhone to your computer and start the respective program. You may be asked to allow access to your iPhone and you may need to enter your password.

Select your iPhone by clicking the small phone icon in iTunes in the upper left corner, or by selecting the iPhone in the sidebar in Finder. Under Backups, select "Backup on this computer / Mac." We recommend that you enable the "Encrypt local backup" option so that your account passwords and health data are also backed up. Click the Apply button.

EnlargeCreate an encrypted backup to make the recovery process as straightforward as possible.

When the backup is done, disconnect your iPhone and go to Settings> General> Reset. There select "Erase all content and settings". This will restore your iPhone to its factory condition. If it reboots and is in the initial setup process, reconnect it to your computer with iTunes or Finder open and follow the on-screen instructions to restore your device.

This is the most expensive way to reduce the amount of other memory, but it is also the best.

This guide was translated from Macworld.com.