5 Best Ways to Free Up iCloud Storage on iPhone/Mac

This post will tell you the best way to free up iCloud storage so you can downgrade your iCloud plan and stop paying for iCloud. The way to free up space on iCloud is quite simple. Let’s check it!

May by May Updated November 20, 2023
Share this:

What’s a good way for freeing up iCloud space?

Like most people, it’s almost entirely photos & videos taking up the space. A good-sounding way I’ve read is to go through your photos & videos and delete similar photos and clip videos down to just the parts you want to keep. The problem is this is very labor-intensive & time-consuming and results in only tiny incremental gains.

- Question from Reedit

What Takes Up Most of Your iCloud Storage

iCloud gives you the opportunity to access your data anytime, anywhere. However, iCloud only gives each Apple user 5GB of free storage space, which can easily fill up. So, what’s taking up most of your iCloud storage? Let’s check it!

• Voice memos are stored in iCloud,
• Pictures and videos are backed up to iCloud Photos,
• Third-party apps like WhatsApp back up a lot of data to your iCloud,
• iCloud Email sends and receives thousands of emails with attachments,
• All files and folders on the Mac desktop are backed up to iCloud Drive,
• Many media (such as sketches, images, and more) are saved in iCloud Notes.

iCloud Storage Is Full

When your iCloud storage is full, is there a best way to free up iCloud storage? Yes! Please read on to find effective solutions.

What to Do When iCloud Storage Is Full

When your iCloud space is about to fill up, you’ll keep getting prompts saying Not Enough Storage, iCloud Storage Full, Upgrade Storage, etc. Under this circumstance, what is the best way to free up iCloud storage? First, you should go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud to check your iCloud storage.

Check Your iCloud Storage

If there is not enough storage space on iCloud, what to do? There are two options for you.

1. Buy More Space

The straightforward way is to increase the amount of storage you have. You will need to pay for the additional storage, but some people may not want to do that.

2. Free Up Storage Space

The next option is to manually free up space by permanently deleting photos from iCloud, videos, or anything you don’t need. To know the exact methods to free up space, please keep reading!

5 Easy Ways to Free Up iCloud Storage

If your iCloud storage is full, don’t worry! There are 5 effective ways to help you free up iCloud storage. Let’s have a look!

Method 1: Delete Files from iCloud Drive

Here is how to delete unnecessary files from iCloud Drive to free up your iCloud storage:

On iPhone/iPad:

Step 1: Open the Files app > Tap Browse > Tap iCloud Drive.

Step 2: Tap the More icon (three dots inside a circle) > Select > check unnecessary files and folders > tap the Trash icon to delete them.

Delete Files in iCloud Drive on iPhone

Step 3: Go back to the Browse page and tap Recently Deleted to delete all files.

On Mac:

Step 1: Open any Finder folder and click iCloud Drive from the sidebar.

Step 2: Choose the files you want to delete, right-click them, and choose Move to Trash.

Delete Files in iCloud Drive on Mac

After that, remember to empty Mac’s Trash.

Method 2: Delete Unwanted Attachments from iCloud Mail

If your iCloud Mail has many attachments (such as PDFs, PPTs, and other emails), you need to delete them to free up some space. Here is how to delete unwanted attachments on Mac:

Step 1: Open the Mail app and find one email that contains the attachment you want to delete.

If you have trouble finding emails with attachments, click the View menu and then click Sort By > Attachments.

Step 2: Click Messages from the top navigation and choose Remove Attachments.

Remove Attachments from Mail

Step 3: Repeat this operation for each email whose attachments you want to delete.

Like attachments, Notes, Messages, and iMovie projects take up a lot of space. Therefore, you can delete some of them to free up your iCloud storage space. In addition, you can transfer pictures from Message/iMessage to Gallery.

Method 3: Turn off iCloud Photos

iCloud Photos is one of the most important reasons why your iCloud space is full. Please perform the following steps to turn off iCloud Photos.

On iPhone/iPad: Open Settings > Tap Photos > Turn off iCloud Photos.

Turn off iCloud Photos on iPhone/iPad

On Mac: Click the Apple icon > Choose System Preferences > Click Apple ID > Uncheck Photos from the iCloud section.

Turn off iCloud Photos on Mac

Method 4: Manage Your Devices iCloud Backups

Backups are another huge occupant of iCloud space. To manage it properly, you have the following options:

1. Turn off iCloud Backup

It’s not recommended to turn off iCloud backup because it’s critical for backing up your data. However, if you decide to turn it off, please make sure you back up your iPhone to an external hard drive.

2. Select Essential Apps to Back Up to iCloud

If you don’t want to upgrade to iCloud+, the best way to free up space on iCloud is to back up data from essential apps only and ignore unnecessary apps like Facebook, Instagram, etc.

3. Delete Old Device Backups

Deleting old backups is also the best way to free up iCloud storage. There is no need to keep backup files of devices you no longer use.

Method 5: Disable Desktop and Documents on Mac

When you enable iCloud Drive, the Desktop and Documents folders are selected by default. That means all files and folders are uploaded to iCloud Drive for safekeeping. If you are on a 5GB plan, iCloud Drive will be filled almost immediately. Here is a guide to disable it:

Step 1: Go to System Preferences, click Apple ID, and then click Options next to iCloud Drive under the iCloud section.

Step 2: Uncheck the Desktop and Documents Folders and click the Done button.

Uncheck Desktop and Documents Folders

Bonus: Best Way to Free Up iCloud Storage Using Backup Tool [100% Free]

Hope the above methods can help you free up storage space on iCloud. Deleting some unneeded files or disabling iCloud backup are easy ways to free up iCloud storage. But, how to free up iCloud storage space without deleting photos or messages? Here it’s strongly recommended to use FoneTool – a free and safe backup & transfer tool.

FoneTool has two modes (Full Backup & Selective Backup) to back up your iPhone. Most importantly, you don’t need a network or Wi-Fi to perform a backup and you won’t meet the iCloud backup stuck issue. Now you can click the button below to get FoneTool and follow the steps below to back up your iPhone.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your PC with a USB cable and run FoneTool. Then, click Phone Backup > Full Backup > Get Started.

Full Backup

Step 2: Enable Backup Encryption > Click Backup Storage Path to choose a location to save backup files > Click Start Backup.

Start Backup

Once the backup is complete, you can go to the Backup History page to view and restore the backup.

The Bottom Line

That’s all about how to free up iCloud storage on an iPhone/iPad/Mac. When your iCloud storage is full, you can delete unwanted content to free up space. However, deleting messages, photos, or files can be very labor-intensive and time-consuming.

In this case, the best way to free up iCloud storage is to back up your iPhone using FoneTool. It is a free and simple-to-use backup tool that cannot only help you back up photos, messages, contacts, and more but also transfer WhatsApp backup to iPhone.


FoneTool - All-in-one iPhone Data Manager

Transfer, backup and manage data on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch in an easy way.

  • iOS 18 Compatible
  • iPhone 15 Supported

Free iPhone Manager - FoneTool

  • Full/Selective Backup iPhone
  • Transfer between iPhone and PC
  • 1-Click Transfer iPhone to iPhone
  • WhatsApp Backup & Transfer
  • Fully compatible with iOS 18
Download Free
Download icon

100% Secure

Downloading.com Rating
Android Transfer is Now Supported!

Easiest way to transfer photos, videos, music, etc., between Android phone and iPhone.

Learn More >>