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Six things I can do right now to clean my phone storage, memory and home screen

ways to clean my phone up

Your once shiny, spiffy smartphone has become sluggish. It doesn’t feel like it did when you first pulled it out of the box. It’s not your imagination: smartphone slowdown is real. Phones tend to accumulate a lot of junk such as downloads, apps, pictures, videos, music etc. which contribute to that slowdown. While you may never quite recapture the feeling you had on day one, we can help combat smartphone slowdown with a few spring cleaning tips. Cut the clutter and put a spring back in your smartphone’s step with these answers to the question “how do I clean my phone storage and memory?”

1. Farewell to photos

Google Photos

You want to hang on to your old photos and videos for safekeeping. You can do just that without them cluttering up your phone, however. Grab the Google Photos app (Android | iOS) and backup all your stuff to the cloud. Take a look at our Google Photos review to see how this handy (not to mention free) app works.

With your photos and videos safely backed up, Google Photos can even intelligently remove photos that have been backed up from your phone, potentially freeing up a ton of space. If you’re an iPhone user, the iOS Photos app has this capability as well.

2. Survival of the hippest: Uninstall useless apps

We’ve all downloaded apps we open once or twice then never use again. No shame in that; the shame is in keeping them. Useless apps will take up space, slow you down and eat up your battery life. Sounds like that terrible college roommate, right? You don’t want a roommate like that. Have a look at the apps you have installed. Any apps you don’t recognize on sight are obvious candidates for removal.

On Android, tap and hold an app then drag up to the top of the screen where it says Uninstall and drop it.

On iPhone, tap and hold on the offending app on the home screen. In the resulting pop-up menu, tap Remove App, then Delete App. If you’re running an older version of iOS, tap and hold the screen till the apps start to wiggle, then tap the “x” at the right top corner of any apps you don’t need anymore.

3. Screen saver: Organize your remaining apps

“And what if I want to clean up my phone screen?” we hear a slightly ashamed Messy Marvin asking. It happens, buddy. If your home screens are stretching out ad infinitum (and you can’t bring yourself to uninstall any more apps), organize them into smart folders.

Homescreen for spring cleaning

To create a folder, just grab an app and drop it on top of another one you’d like to group it with. Then tap on the resulting folder’s name to retitle it (e.g Home, Work, Social, Games, etc).

Apple has also included the very cool “App Library” in iOS 14. On your home screen, keep swiping pages to the left and you’ll eventually land on it. You’ll see they’ve done a pretty good job of automatically sorting apps into labelled folders (but don’t think we didn’t notice you put everything you couldn’t figure out into “recently added,” Apple). This nifty feature can help you clean up your home screen as well. If you’ve got something you don’t want to delete but doesn’t really belong in an existing folder, tap and hold it. Tap Remove App, then tap Move to App Library.

4. Perpetual permissions

Location tracking puts a drain on your phone’s battery. Apps like Lyft need to have access your location so they know where to pick you up. That makes sense. Other apps? Maybe not so much. On Android, you get to choose which permissions you’ll grant to a given app as you install it. If you want to add or take away permissions, do so in Settings > Apps. Tap an app, tap Permissions then turn the options on or off accordingly.

On an iPhone, just go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and then choose the apps that you want to allow location access.

5. Cut the cache

“Is it safe to clean my phone of stored app data,” you ask? Sure is, you just need to get used to what you should delete and when. Cached data is helpful and can save on mobile data because you’re not constantly pulling the same resources down. Still, it can build up to the point where it’s significantly slowing down your phone. For Android phones, go to Settings > Storage and tap Cached data.

cached data

On an iPhone, you can easily clear Safari browser data; open the Settings app, choose Safari and tap Clear History and Website Data. While Safari tends to be the main offender, check out other apps as well and learn which ones have a cache or other data you can clear out.

If you have an app that continues to be problematic, try deleting and reinstalling the app. This will clear the cache as well as all settings and (hopefully) clear up those problems.

6. Where it all began…

If your phone feels hopelessly bogged down to the point where drastic measures are necessary, you can always reset the phone back to its initial state. If the system freezes for no apparent reason, apps refuse to launch, or your phone restarts unexpectedly, it may be time for a factory reset.

Here’s the big, flashing light disclaimer. It’s easy to do, but you’ll want to do a complete backup of all your data first because everything on your phone will be deleted. To be fair, that’s kind of the whole point. “Whatever, Ting-Dad, we get it. How do I totally clean my phone with a full factory reset?” Hey, better to be safe than sorry.

On Android, go to Settings > Backup & reset and then choose Factory data reset. On iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings. This will give you the real feeling of cleaning house.

The Ting Shop: for when your phone’s too far gone

We hope these tips have helped you improve your mobile hygiene and have a nice, clean phone. If it’s clear your phone has just plain had enough and is tapping out, check out Ting’s collection of phones in the Ting Shop. From flagship powerhouses to highly capable yet surprisingly affordable phones, we’ve got you covered for your next upgrade.

If your clean up was successful and now it’s time to improve your phone bill, take a look at Ting Mobile. By only paying for what you use, you can save a ton of money every month. Since we operate on all but one of the nationwide networks, coverage is excellent, and we’ll never lock you into a contract. See if your rejuvenated phone can come to Ting Mobile with our handy checker tool.