How to Reduce Your iCloud Storage

Three ways to free up space in iCloud

What to Know

  • On iCloud.com: Click iCloud Drive, select a file or folder, and click the trash icon to delete.
  • Delete app backups: Go to Settings > your name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups > device. Tap the toggle to delete.
  • Delete iMessage attachments: Open Messages > tap a conversation > name > See All. Select attachments to remove, and tap Delete.

This article explains how to reduce your iCloud storage and free up space, including how to delete files from iCloud Drive, remove large app backups from iCloud, and delete iMessage attachments.

What Can I Do When iCloud Storage Is Full?

Apple offers you a minimal amount of iCloud storage for free and slightly more at a discount. If your iCloud storage fills up, you have to either sign up for a more expensive plan or free up some storage by deleting what you have stored there.

If you don’t want to upgrade, or you’ve already upgraded but would like to switch to a cheaper plan, there are several ways to free up iCloud storage:

  • Remove large files: Storing photos, and other large files can take a lot of space.
  • Delete app backups: On your iPhone or iPad, you can delete app backups to save space.
  • Delete Messenger attachments: Images you receive through Messenger can be deleted to free up space.

Do you have several family members who all use Apple devices? You may be able to save money and avoid the hassle of freeing up space by signing up for a larger iCloud storage plan and then enabling Family Sharing.

How Can I Free Up Space on iCloud Storage?

The best way to free up space on iCloud storage is to delete large files. Videos, images, apps, archives, and other files can take up a lot of space, and you can delete them by using the iCloud Drive manager on the iCloud website. Files deleted in this way are immediately removed from your iCloud storage, but backups are retained for a little while just in case you delete something accidentally.

  1. Navigate and log into iCloud.com.

    The Apple ID field highlighted on iCloud.com.
  2. Click iCloud Drive.

    iCloud Drive highlighted on the iCloud website.
  3. Click the file or folder you want to remove.

    Select files and folders in iCloud Drive.

    Hold down CTRL and you can click multiple items to remove at the same time.

  4. Click the trash icon.

    The trash icon highlighted on iCloud Drive.
  5. The selected item or items will be removed immediately.

    Recently Deleted highlighted in iCloud Drive.

    If you deleted something accidentally and want it back, click Recently Deleted in the bottom right corner of the window. You can recover deleted files for up to 30 days.

How to Delete App Backups From iCloud

If your iPhone or iPad automatically backs itself up to iCloud, those backups end up taking a lot of space. You can’t altogether remove one of these backups from iCloud without also removing the corresponding device from your account, but you can delete backup data for specific apps.

Deleting app backup data from iCloud will also prevent that app from backing itself up in the future.

Here’s how to delete app backups from iCloud:

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad, and tap your name at the top of the settings screen.

  2. Tap iCloud.

  3. Tap Manage Storage.

    iCloud storage options from iPhone settings.
  4. Tap Backups.

  5. Tap one of your devices.

  6. Tap any of the app toggles to delete the corresponding backup data from iCloud.

    Managing app backups in iCloud Storage settings.
  7. Tap Turn Off & Delete.

  8. The app backup will be removed from iCloud.

    Turn Off & Delete highlighted in iCloud app backup.

How to Delete iChat Photos From iCloud

When iChat messages and photos are backed up in your iCloud, you can end up using a lot of space. You can free up that space by deleting specific iChat attachments.

You can also see which conversations take up the most space and remove them. Go to Settings > account name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Messages > Top Conversations on your phone, select a conversation, and tap Delete.


Here’s how to delete iChat attachments to clear up iCloud space:

  1. Open the Messages app.

  2. Open a conversation containing attachments.

  3. Tap the person’s name at the top of the screen.

  4. Tap See All in the photos section.

  5. Tap Select.

    Deleting iChat attachments on an iPhone to clear iCloud space.
  6. Tap each image you want to remove.

  7. Tap Delete.

    Images marked for removal will have blue check marks.

  8. Tap Delete xx Attachments.

    Delete attachments highlighted in the Messages app.
FAQ
  • How do I reduce iCloud storage on a Mac?

    Go to System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud > Manage. Highlight apps to view details about storage, turn off or remove backups, or delete apps from iCloud. To remove individual files from iCloud, go to Finder > iCloud Drive.

  • How do I reduce iCloud photo storage?

    Removing photos that you no longer need is a great way to free up space on iCloud. On an iPad or iPhone, open the Photos app > tap Library or Albums > Select > choose the photos to delete > Delete (trash can icon). On a Mac, click Photos > highlight the images to delete > and press Delete on your keyboard.

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