How to free up space on Android

Android phones and tablets are powerful devices with tons to offer. Users can quickly fill the storage limit when downloading apps or games, and add music or videos. Plus, many low-end devices are almost out of space the day you buy them. Nobody wants to micromanage their phone storage, so here we are going to tell you how to free up space on Android.

If you take a lot of high-res photos, 4k videos, or download big games like Asphalt 8, storage limits will become an issue. Even on phones like the Galaxy S7 which only has 32GB of built-in storage. Of course, it's useful to have a microSD slot for expansion, and you can always move apps to the SD card in a snap.

That said, here are some tips for freeing up space on your Android smartphone or tablet. Whether it's using Android's built-in tools, moving apps to the SD card, or using cloud storage apps. We'll cover that and more below.

Free up space with a microSD card

Free up space with a microSD card

As Android evolves, so do the built-in tools and features. Modern versions of Android these days have specific settings to view and manage your storage. Not to mention seeing what's used the most, clearing cache, or moving apps to an SD card. This is the first step in a long series for owners.

Use Android's built-in tools

Our first recommendation would be to take advantage of the many tools built right into stock Android. Nexus devices from Google have storage managers, and most other devices from Samsung or LG have true "File Manager" apps. Also, every Android device has a "Storage" option in the settings, so we'll start there.

To do this, swipe the notification bar down and tap the gear-shaped settings button at the top. Or find the "Settings" app and icon in the app tray. In the settings, head to "Storage". You will see something similar to the screenshot below.

Android Storage

From there, users will see how much space is used by apps and their data, images and videos, audio files, downloads, cached data, and other miscellaneous files. Samsung devices may list storage in a different format. Tap on any of the breakdowns to see more information about that specific item.

For example, try tapping "Apps" to see which apps are using up space and delete anything that's extremely large. Especially if it is an application that is no longer used. Many forget about the "Downloads" folder, which can often be full of images and other stuff over months or years of use.

clear storageIt's a good idea to delete old files from the Downloads folder or clear the cache of apps that are taking up too much space. A great example is Facebook or Instagram. Photos and videos are pre-downloaded and can often use almost 1 GB of space. Apps consume space on our devices by app data itself and cache.

Above, we cleared nearly 500MB of space by clearing cache on Instagram. It's half a gigabyte. These are only temporarily saved photos or videos of people we follow. The app preloads them to improve performance, but it wastes valuable space on our devices. Another good example is Google Music or Spotify, which caches music for offline playback. Clearing the cache of any of the four apps mentioned above can save users tons of space in minutes. Not to mention many other applications.

Get a MicroSD card and transfer all data

The easiest way to free up tons of storage on your Android smartphone or tablet is to get yourself a microSD card. As long as your phone supports it, microSD cards are extremely inexpensive and an easy way to expand storage. In 2016, almost all major smartphones released have a microSD slot.

Users who have a lot of more important photos, music, or videos will want to transfer everything to a microSD card and out of internal storage.


Insert a microSD card and restart your phone or tablet. Now use the built-in file manager to transfer all content to the SD card. Additionally, those with Android 6.0 Marshmallow or newer can plug it into a computer via micro-USB and manually click and drag files.

We recommend that you move all documents, downloaded files, photos or videos, and more to the microSD card. The music is a big one too. Those who don't use a streaming solution will want to put all the music on the SD card. Next, let's also move some apps to free up space on our device.

Move apps to SD card

Another extremely easy way to free up space is to move apps to the SD card. However, there are some limitations. Anything installed on the phone out of the box usually cannot be moved to the SD card. Also, any apps where you use the widget will only work if they are on internal storage.

We also suggest that any application that requires the best performance, such as games, be installed on the internal storage for the best performance. For everything and anything else, move it.

To get started, pull down the navigation bar and tap the gear-shaped settings button. Or find in the application tray. Go to the column or look for the option labeled then . It can also be called . Now owners will see a list of all their apps on the smartphone. I move Clash Royale to the SD card.


Once you are in the app manager, just scroll down and find any app or game that has been downloaded from the Google Play Store. Select the app, tap on the first option called storage, and under where it is set to internal storage, tap on the large icon as shown below. Then select and continue.

Screenshot 2016-03-10 at 2.07.41 PM

Here is the full set of instructions and steps.

  1. Settings
  2. Apps
  3. Application Manager
  4. Select "Downloaded application"
  5. Click on “Storage”
  6. Choose “Change” storage and select “SD card”
  7. Confirm you want to move the app to SD, tap "Move" and let it export
  8. Repeat 4-7 for any downloaded app.

These steps may vary slightly for different non-Samsung phones, but should be relatively easy for all owners to figure out. Some phones may just have a "Move to MicroSD" button in the app about the screen shown above. If so, click on it and move each app. It only takes few seconds.

With Android 6.0 Marshmallow, an SD card can also be formatted so that the operating system thinks it is "internal storage" instead of removable. This is called adoptable storage. We recommend choosing this, even though it will format the SD card and erase all data to finish. Then the phone will just show the internal and external storage as one large amount.

Use cloud storage

Cloud storage is another great way to save space on our smartphones and tablets. Whether it's uploading all your pictures and videos to Google Photos or saving videos and files to a program like Dropbox. They are convenient, easy to use and often free.

The way cloud storage works is that everything downloaded goes to servers and is stored somewhere else, instead of your phone. As long as you have internet (4G LTE or WiFi), you can access it in seconds. Many don't understand "the cloud", but you should still use it. We recommend Google Photos, as pictures and videos take up the majority of space on most smartphones these days.


With Google Photos, users can instantly backup all photos and videos to the cloud. You will get unlimited free storage space if you choose "high quality" backups. Which are still excellent in terms of photos. Or, select original quality, which counts towards a limit where you may run out and have to buy more cloud storage. We suggest using the free solution. I have thousands of photos uploaded to Google Photos.

Also, in the settings menu of Google Photos, there is an option title "Free up space". This will find and allow you to manually delete duplicate photos, or upload new images to the cloud and delete them from your device. Potentially frees up 2-5 GB of space or more. Everything is accessible from the photos application or online on a desktop computer.

other thoughts

The same idea behind Google Photos and storing items in the cloud also works for music. Rather than wasting 10GB space on your phone with music, upload it to Google Music and stream songs over the internet. Alternatively, owners can consider trying popular apps like Dropbox, BOX.net, or even Microsoft OneDrive. The solutions are endless and all of them work great. Also give apps like Clean Master a try. It will clear cache, remove old apps, or clear duplicates of anything on your phone.

At the end of the day, all of this will only help a lot. Make sure to be careful when downloading large files or games. Delete apps you no longer use, and if you're really worried, make sure the next phone you buy has 64GB of storage or a microSD slot. Some that come to mind are Galaxy S8, LG G6 and more. Ultimately, the tips above will ensure that most users have enough space to continue using their device without worry. Leave us a comment below for any questions or concerns.