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Low on iPhone storage space? Do this instead of deleting your apps

Deleting apps deletes your data. This method preserves your data.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer
Woman holding iPhone

Running low on iPhone storage space? Already deleted all your cat videos and memes? Getting ready to start deleting apps that you don't often use?


The problem with deleting apps is that you also delete any data associated with the app.

Goodbye, app. Goodbye, data.

If you're deleting an app that you never plan on using again, then deleting that app probably isn't going to be a problem

Also: How to delete apps on iPhone

But if there's a chance that you might go back to the app at some point in the future, deleting the app means that you'll be starting from scratch with no data.

There is an alternative, and it's called Offload Unused Apps. It comes with a few caveats though.

How to increase iPhone storage space without deleting your apps

1. Go to iPhone Storage

You can find this setting in Settings > General > iPhone Storage.

According to Apple, this will "automatically offload unused apps when you're low on storage," and "your documents & data will be saved."

iPhone storage information in settings.

You can find Offload Unused Apps in Settings > General > iPhone Storage.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

2. Find Offload Unused Apps

Tap on this setting and you'll get confirmation that it's enabled.

Offload Unused Apps with check mark next to it in settings.

Confirmation that Offload Unused Apps is enabled.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Also: How to clear cache on your iPhone (and why you should)

3. Wait for the setting to disappear

Once the setting disappears, it's enabled, and offloading unused apps will commence in the background automatically. 

Offload Unused Apps no longer visible in settings.

All mention of the setting vanishes.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

4. To redownload an offloaded app, tap on its icon

Offloading is a fancy word for deleting the app. The icon for the app remains, and if you need the app at some point in the future, your iPhone will download it from the App Store and install it for you.

Since most apps take up a lot more space than any associated data does, this is a handy way to free up storage space.

Apps that you've not used for 12 days or more are fair game for offloading.

But there is a catch -- if the app is removed from the App Store, then you won't be able to redownload it.

This is definitely worth keeping in mind.

Offloaded IPTV Smarters app with redownload icon.

This app has been offloaded -- tap to redownload.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Also: Which iPhone is right for you and how do the different models compare

5. To disable automatic app offloading, go to Offload Unused Apps

If you want to disable automatic app offloading, head over to Settings > App Store and toggle Offload Unused Apps to off.

One drawback to this form of offloading is that it's automatic, and you don't have control over which apps get offloaded.

Offload Unused Apps toggle in App Store settings.

To disable automatic app offloading, head over to Settings > App Store and toggle Offload Unused Apps to off.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

6. To manually offload, find the app you want to offload in iPhone Storage

There is a way to do this manually, and that's to go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage, find the app you want to offload, tap on it, and then tap Offload App

Offload an app button circled to manually offload.

Here's how you manually offload an app.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET
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