Storage space. Most of us never seem to have enough of it, whether it’s on our smartphone, PC, or gaming console. When things get tight, you’ll want to know how to free up disk space. It’s an effective way to clear up excess clutter on any device and something anyone can do. In this guide, we will show you the best ways to free up disk space on PCs and mobile devices.
How to Free Up Disk Space on PCs
There are more than a dozen ways to free up disk space on a PC, but some are far more effective than others. All of these methods work wonders on a desktop PC or laptop that’s short on storage space.
Remove Unwanted Apps
Our top tip on how to free up disk space on PCs is to simply uninstall old apps. It’s not the fastest or easiest step, but it can clear up gigabytes in minutes. It’s the best way to quickly free large amounts of disk space for most users, and it’s easy to do from Windows or Mac.
1. Access the Uninstall Utility
The best way to uninstall apps on Windows is through the operating system’s removal tool. Go to the taskbar and type “uninstall” into the search box to access it. When the results appear, choose Add or Remove Programs.
2. Choose a Drive
This step is optional but necessary if you have multiple hard drives. When the Installed Apps screen appears, click Filter by and choose All Drives or the drive you need to clear space on.
3. Select and Uninstall
Once you settle on a drive, scroll through the list and find any unwanted apps you want to remove. When you locate one, click on the 3-dot menu and choose Uninstall to begin the process.
The process on Macs is similar, although our guide uses Windows 11. You can use the Launchpad feature or the Finder tool to locate and remove programs on any MacBook.
Empty your Recycle Bin
Whenever you delete something on a computer, it doesn’t necessarily free up disk space automatically. Depending on how the program or files were removed from the PC, there may be some leftover data to deal with. That’s where the recycle bin comes into play. It’s something you can find on every computer running Windows or the Mac OS but it is often overlooked.
1. Locate the Recycle Bin
The recycle bin is generally easy to identify unless it’s been moved or has a new icon. If you don’t see it on the desktop, use the search function on your PC to find the application.
2. Open Recycle Bin
Once you find the bin, you have two options. While you can empty it instantly, we advise opening it to make sure you want to remove what’s in the bin.
3. Empty Recycle Bin
Go through the recycle bin and ensure there’s nothing you want to save. You can click and restore items individually or go to the top of the window and choose Empty Recycle Bin to delete the data from your system and free disk space.
Backup or Remove Files
Removing programs and emptying your recycle bin can clear up a significant amount of space on a PC. What about important files? You have two options with the cloud or storage devices like USB sticks and external hard drives. Physical storage is preferred for long-term use and large files. If you have a drive ready, here’s how to quickly backup any file.
1. Plug In Your Device
Take your external hard drive or USB stick and hook it up to your PC. Make sure you have enough storage to handle any files you plan to back up.
2. Locate Your Files
On your PC, locate the file or files you want to back up. While we are using a single file, you can make folders to help organize things when dealing with multiple files.
3. Move the Files
Plug in the device you plan to use as a backup, select the files, and move them to the external drive. You can click and simply drag and drop the files onto the drive as shown.
If you’re running Windows or Mac OS X, a couple of built-in tools come in handy. Disk Cleanup on Windows can handle files you’d never usually consider. For Macs, you’ll want to turn to storage optimization under the Storage settings of your PC.
1. Open Disk Cleanup
On Windows, use the search bar and type in Disk Cleanup. Click on the program in the Window to access this area.
2. Select Files
When the Disk Cleanup tool opens, you’ll see a list of options and checkboxes. Select the areas you want to clean and choose whether you want to Clean up system files.
3. Clear Up Space
When you’ve settled on your selections, click OK to remove the files from your system.
Tips to Free Up Disk Space on Mobile Devices
Have a mobile device running short on free space? That’s a problem for many, especially considering the lack of SD card slots on tablets and phones. You can clear up free space on mobile devices using many of the same processes we covered in the PC part of our guide.
That means you’ll want to keep an eye out for the recycle bin and you’ll want to remove unwanted applications. The latter takes up more space than most people realize and it is the best way to free up disk space on Android or iOS devices.
Free Up Disk Space by Removing Applications
If you’re using an Android smartphone or tablet, you can remove apps in two ways. If there’s an icon anywhere on a home screen, you can tap and hold the icon to bring up a list of options. To remove an app or game, click on Uninstall and choose OK.
Alternatively, you can scroll through every application on your device and uninstall anything you no longer use. To do this, Tap on the Play Store icon, choose your profile icon, and select Manage apps & device.
Under Overview, find the section that shows how much free disk space you have and tap it to bring up a list of every app on your device. Select any applications you no longer want, click on the trash can, and choose Uninstall.
With an iPhone or iPad, you can also remove applications and games by long-pressing an icon and selecting Remove App, then Delete App. Otherwise, you’ll need to find the list of downloaded applications on your device.
Apple makes that easy by going to the Gear icon and the Settings menu. From here, choose General, find the section called iPhone Storage, and select it to see a breakdown on your device.
Apple gives users the opportunity to offload unused apps from this screen. You can also choose an application to bring up more options, including deleting the app or offloading it to free up storage on your phone or tablet.
Whether your PC is loaded with games you haven’t played in years or family photos, our steps will help you free up disk space on any computer. If it’s a problem you find yourself running into frequently, consider external solutions like a speedy external drive or cloud-based storage.
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