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Tech tips

How to find and delete large files on your devices

Many things can make your devices, whether they be phones, tablets, or computers, start to run slower. One of these things is having lots of large files.

It takes memory to store big files, and power. You can do a few things to improve the battery power of an electronic device — tap or click here to extend your battery life.

Finding and deleting large files is one of the best ways to keep your devices running better for longer though. Follow our tips below to find large files in different operating systems you own, and pare them down to keep things running smoothly!

iOS

If you have an iPhone, and iPad, or an iPod Touch, its operating system is iOS. Apple offers a pretty easy way to check your device’s storage, and see what files are taking up the most space.

To check your storage in iOS:

  1. Go to Settings, and tap on “General.”
  2. Tap “iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch Storage.” You’ll be brought to a page that shows you how much of your iOS device’s memory is being used, and how much space different kinds of files are occupying.
  3. Scroll down the page to see the size of different, individual apps on your device.

Once you see which of your apps take up the most room, you can delete the worst offenders, eliminating the data they hold entirely. Or, you can offload the apps, freeing up some storage, but still preserving the documents and data from that app.  

To clear out the larger files on your iOS device:

  1. Within the Storage page, tap on an app that’s large, and you want to get rid of.
  2. You’ll be brought to a page for the app. To remove the app, you’ll need to decide what you want to do with the data.
    1. To completely delete the data from an app, and clear it from your iOS device’s memory forever, tap the “Delete App” button.
    1. To remove the app from your phone and free up storage, but still preserve the data and documents so they’ll come back if you re-download the app, tap the “Offload App” button.

If one of the biggest apps on your iOS device is Photos, you’ll have to go into the app itself and clean out photos and videos you don’t want anymore. Tap or click here to see how Photos organizes via machine learning.

As a pro tip, in more recent versions of iOS, your device can make recommendations for optimizing your storage. Read those recommendations on the main Storage page, and in app pages, and tap on them if you want to use them.

Using recommendations can save you a lot of storage, and keep you from having to delete some things manually. It can remove all of your unused apps at once, or send all of your pictures to iCloud.

However you remove large files from your iOS device, you’ll save your battery, and help the device run faster once you do it. Follow recommendations, or decide for yourself what you’ll be removing, and keep your device happy and humming.

Android

Like iOS, Android makes it pretty easy to see what apps and documents you have on your Android phone or tablet, and how much storage they take up. Android offers some different methods of handling them though, which we’ll go over below.

To see the storage on your Android device:

  1. Tap on the Settings button, and select “Storage” from the list.
  2. You’ll see how much overall space your Android device has, as well as different categories for apps and files, and how much space they each take up.
  3. Tap on a category, like “Music & audio” or “Games,” to see what apps fall into that category, and how much space they take up individually.

You can remove apps that seem particularly large, or apps you don’t use, straight through storage, like you can with iOS. To remove apps individually in Android:

  1. Tap on a category, then an app that’s taking up a lot of space.
  2. Do you want to remove the app from your device, but not delete and settings or saves if you re-add the app later? Tap the “Clear Cache” button.
  3. Do you want to delete the app, along with all data and documents saved within it? Tap the “Clear Storage” button.

Going to each app page isn’t the only way to delete them though. On the Storage page, Android devices have a “Free up space” button. Tap on that button to reach the “Remove items” feature, or access the Files app, if you have that downloaded.

“Remove items” lets you select files, photos, videos, and infrequently used apps to quickly remove them from your phone. The Files app, made by Google, will make recommendations on what to remove to maximize your storage.

You can also turn on Smart Storage on your Android device, which automatically deletes backed-up photos and videos on your device within a timeframe you set. IT can also remove backed-up photos and videos when your storage is nearly full.

To activate Smart Storage:

  1. In the Storage page with Settings, tap on Smart Storage.
  2. Turn the “Use Smart Storage” switch to on.
  3. Beneath “Remove back up photos & videos,” tap on the “Over 90 days old” text, and select the age of photos and videos you’d like to remove: those over 30 days old, those over 60 days old, or those over 90 days old.

Windows

Computers can usually store more than tablets and phones, and therefore have a greater chance of having useless, enormous files lying around. You can take remove these files to help your Windows computer run faster and better.

But first, you have to find the large files. To quickly locate any file on your computer that’s over 128MB in size:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Type “size:gigantic” into the search bar on the far right, and hit enter.
  3. Every file you have that’s over 128MB should appear in a list in the File Explorer window!

To remove any of these large files, just right click on them, and click “Delete.” The files should go to your computer’s Recycle Bin. To fully free up your storage, open Recycle Bin and click “Empty Recycle Bin” to permanently delete the files.

You can also run Windows Disk Clean-Up to find and delete unnecessary or unused files on your Windows computer. To use Windows Disk Clean-Up:

  1. Find the application in the Start menu list, or search for it there. Open the application.
  2. Let Disk Clean-Up scan your computer. This can take a little while.
  3. Disk Clean-Up will present you with a list of files you can delete. Check or uncheck the boxes to the left of all the files you want to remove.
  4. Click “Ok” to delete the files!
  5. You can also go to the “More Options” tab and click the “Clean Up…” buttons under “Programs and Features” and “System Restore and Shadow Copies.”
    1. Programs and Features clean up lets Disk Clean-Up remove applications you don’t use.
    1. System Restore and Shadow Copies clean up lets Disk Clean-Up remove old versions of Windows that you don’t need.

You can always scroll through the start menu and right click on games and applications you don’t like or don’t use, and select “Uninstall” to free up storage.

But using a tool like Disk Clean-Up can make things go faster, and tell you what apps you really don’t need. Why not use an excellent tool if you have it?

Mac

Like a Windows computer, a Mac can be full of gigantic files that you never even touch. Finding them can be pretty easy, if you know where to look.

 To see the storage on your Mac:

  1. Click on the apple icon in the left, topmost corner of your screen, and select “About This Mac” from the menu that appears.
  2. Click on the “Storage” tab, where you’ll see how much of your Mac computer’s storage you’re using, and how much space different kinds of files currently take up.
  3. Click the “Manage…” button to the right. You’ll be brought to the System Information application, which will show you your file type breakdown in more detail.
  4. Click on a category in the left menu to see all of the files categorized by that file type. They should be organized in size order, from largest to smallest.

Within System Information, you can right click on files and select “Delete,” or click on the “X” in the circle that appears when you mouse over a file. Either will remove  the file from your computer entirely, freeing up potentially a lot of storage.

System Information has a “Recommendations” area as well, located at the top of the file type categories. This can tell you ways of freeing up storage, and how to use your storage the most efficiently.

Recommendations can help you put things into iCloud to leave room on your computer, or remove movies and shows once you’ve watched them in iTunes. It can set your trash to empty automatically after 30 days as well.

Removing larger files frees up memory space, which in turn takes pressure off your computer battery, and lets your computer run faster. Tap or click here for other ways to speed up your computer.

Go through the storage of all of your devices using our tips above, and remove the largest files you can. Then, enjoy the extra storage space, as well as having a faster phone, tablet, or computer at peak performance to boot!

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