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How to easily free up space on Android without using a third-party app

If your Android device storage is almost filled up, what do you do? Jack Wallen has the answer and it's actually really easy to take care of (and built into the operating system).
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Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on

One of the issues that faces mobile devices is that, for the most part, storage is not expandable. You purchase a phone with 128 GB of internal storage and you assume that'll be enough to last you for the lifecycle of that device. 

But then time passes and you quickly realize all those photos and videos you've taken, all the apps you've installed, all the downloads you've saved add up. After a year or two of usage, you find your device is running low on storage.

What do you do? Buy a new phone every time you see the available storage run out and you're facing the inability to save anything to your device. You can't take photos, film those important moments, or download any of those memes you so badly want to share.

What do you do?

You could install a third-party app from the Google Play Store that promises to not only free up your device's storage but make your device run faster and make you a better person.

Remember the old adage, "If it's too good to be true it probably is?" That applies. Most of those third-party storage clearing apps on the Google Play Store are junk and should be avoided. 

Fortunately, most of the latest iterations of the Android operating system make it pretty easy to free up storage space on your device. Let me show you how it's done. I'll be demonstrating on a Pixel 6 Pro running Android 12. The process should be the same (or similar) on your device. If not, it should only be a matter of a minor tweak to the process to make it work.

Let's dive in.

Clearing up storage

To clear up storage on your Android device, pull down the Notification Shade twice to access the Settings app. Within the Settings app, locate and tap Storage (Figure 1).

Figure 1

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The Storage entry in the Android 12 Settings application.

In the Storage section (Figure 2), tap Free up space.

Figure 2

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The Storage section of the Android Settings app is where you get an at-a-glance as to what's taking up space on your device.

In the resulting screen (Figure 3), you'll find several file types you can clean up (such as Junk files, old screenshots, large files, media from specific apps, downloaded files, and media that's been backed up to your Google Drive account. 

Figure 3

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This is where all the cleaning happens.

For the Junk files, you simply tap Clean X (Where X is the number of MB or GB freed after the cleaning). For all other file types, you must tap Select files and then select the files you want to delete. Within each section, you'll have the option of selecting individual files or tapping the All items circle to delete everything from that category (Figure 4).

Figure 4

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Deleting all of my old screenshots from Android in one fell swoop.

After selecting all of the files, tap Move X files to Trash (where X is the number of files you're deleting) and you're done. Go through the rest of the options on the Cleaning suggestions page and, once complete, you should have gained back considerable storage space on your Android device.

Congratulations, you just made it possible to continue on with your mobile existence without missing a beat, a meme, or an adorable cat video.

Life is good again.

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