6 quick ways to clear space on an overstuffed Android device

Updated August 2, 2017 to reflect Android N (7.1.2).

Few things in life are as annoying as finding that your Android handset refuses to install any more app updates because it’s run out of storage. Unlike many of life’s little annoyances, though, this one’s easy to fix.

You can quickly clear out hundreds of megabytes or even a gig or two by sweeping up stale downloads, rooting out offline maps and documents, clearing caches, and wiping unneeded music and video files. There’s even an easy way to find and nix space-hogging apps that you no longer use.

1. Clear out all cached app data

If you dig into the Apps storage setting screen and tap on an individual app, you’ll notice that each app has its own stash of “cached” data—anywhere from a few kilobytes to hundreds of megs, or even more.

Clear out all cached app data Ben Patterson

The “cached” data used by your combined Android apps can easily take up more than a gigabyte of storage space.

These caches of data are essentially just junk files, and they can be safely deleted to free up storage space. Tap the Clear Cache button to take out the trash.

If poking through each and every app looking for cached data to clear sounds like a chore, there’s an easy way to clear all cached app data in one fell swoop. Tap Settings > Storage > Cached data, then tap OK in the confirmation window.

2. Clean up the Downloads folder

Just like on a PC or a Mac, your Android device has a Downloads folder, and it’s a favorite hideout for miscellaneous junk files downloaded from the Web or by your various Android apps.

Clean up the Downloads folder

Tap and hold a file in the Downloads folder and then tap the Trash button to delete it.

Open the app drawer and tap Downloads to see what’s lurking in the Downloads folder. Tap the three-line menu in the top corner of the screen and sort the list of downloads by size, then take a look at what’s hogging the most storage space. If you see anything you don’t need, tap and hold the file to select it, then tap the Trash button.


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