How to Manage iCloud Storage on Your iPhone

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

The first 5GB of iCloud storage on your iPhone are free, but if you use iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Drive, that 5GB can fill up pretty quickly. Follow these steps to see which data occupy your storage and how to increase your space, if need be.

  1. Open the Settings app, tap iCloud, and then tap Storage toward the top of the screen.

    The Storage screen opens and you see the Total Storage you have (5GB if you haven’t purchased additional storage) and the Available Storage.

  2. Tap Manage Storage.

    The Manage Storage screen opens, which shows you what is stored on iCloud. You see four sections that indicate how your storage is occupied: Photos, Backups, Documents and Data, and Mail.

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  3. Tap iCloud Photo Library.

    You see how many photos and videos occupy the storage, but you have to go to the Photos app to delete any of the images to free up space.

    If you wish to stop using iCloud Photo Library, tap Disable and Delete, which disables iCloud Photo Library on all your devices. Your photos and videos remain for 30 days, during which time you should download your photos and videos to your iPhone or another device.

  4. Tap Back or swipe right to return to the Manage Storage screen.

  5. Tap iPhone in the Backups section.

    The Info screen opens. The date and size of the last backup appear at the top. Scroll down and tap Show All Apps to see the apps for which iCloud backs up data — not the apps themselves, only the data.

    By default, backup is on for all apps. To shrink the size of your backup file, you can turn one or more off by tapping the switch next to it. You see how much storage the app data occupies under the name of the app.

    If, at some time in the future, you want to delete your backup, scroll to the bottom of this screen and tap Delete Backup, which both deletes your iCloud backup and turns it off.

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  6. Tap Back or swipe right to return to the Manage Storage screen.

  7. Scroll down and tap Show All in the Documents & Data section.

    The list shows all the types and size of files that are stored on iCloud Drive. Tap an app to see the list of files stored from that app.

    To delete files, tap the Edit button in the upper-right corner. Tap the Delete button (the red and white minus sign) to the left of the document, and then tap the Delete button that appears to the right. You’re asked to confirm the action as it deletes the file both from iCloud Drive and from your iPhone. Tap Delete All at the bottom to take that action.

  8. Tap Back or swipe right to return to the Manage Storage screen, and again to the Storage screen.

  9. (Optional) If you see you’re running low on available storage, you can purchase additional iCloud storage.

    iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library give you 5GB total storage for mail, contacts, calendars, documents, photos, and backup. Media purchased from iTunes doesn’t count toward that limit. If you use Photo Stream but not iCloud Photo Library, the images in Photo Stream don’t count toward the 5GB.

    Do the following to buy more storage:

    1. Tap Buy More Storage.

      The Upgrade iCloud Storage screen opens. You see your current plan and upgrade options; downgrade options are available if you have a purchased plan.

    2. Tap the plan you want to purchase, and then tap the Buy button.

    3. Enter the password for your Apple ID, if requested, and then enter your payment information.

    4. Tap Done.

      Your credit card is charged for the amount indicated immediately and on an annual basis until you downgrade.

    If you purchase more storage and then find you don’t need it, you can downgrade at any time so your credit card will be charged less or not at all when the renewal date arrives. Do the following:

    1. Tap Downgrade Options.

      You may be asked to enter your Apple ID password.

    2. Tap the storage plan you want when your current plan expires.

    3. Tap Done.

    You can also purchase iCloud storage through the System Preferences application on your Mac (tap iCloud) or from the iCloud pane of the Control Panel in Windows.

The alternative to buying more storage is deleting documents and files as explained in Step 7 previously. However, if the documents you delete are only stored in iCloud, you lose them completely. Open and save the documents on your computer, upload (using the Share Sheet) them to another remote storage server, or email them to yourself before deleting them from iCloud if you want to keep a copy.