How To Clean Up ICloud Storage: A Quick Guide – MacSources

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Cloud storage is great because it’s a free get-out-of-jail card for whenever we run out of storage space on our devices. But, what happens when we run out of iCloud storage? With only 5GB of free iCloud storage on each account, this is a very real possibility that iPhone and Mac users face – here is what to do.
If you’re still unsure, iCloud is essentially the Apple version of Google Drive and Photos. It’s the key way to take the burden off your devices, as well as connect them through the cloud. To turn iCloud on (because you may find it is turned off), log in with your Apple ID under accounts within Settings and select which services you may need.
In order to clear up storage, you will be more effective if you know the cause and culprit of what’s using it. Photos, videos, iCloud backups, messages, and docs are all contributors to this.
In order to see what your storage is on your iPhone, head to Settings, Apple ID, click on iCloud, and then finally, Manage Storage. From here, you will be able to see not only how much storage space you have left, but what category of data is taking up the space.
When using a Mac, you can head into your iCloud settings and make them more optimal. Simply go to System Preferences (under the Apple symbol in the top left), select iCloud and click Optimize Storage. The instructions are similar on iPhone too, where it’s simply under Settings, click on your name, press iCloud and then head into Photos. Within here, there’s an Optimize iPhone Storage setting.
There is also a High-Efficiency mode on newer iPhones too when heading into Settings, Camera, then Formats. This will reduce the amount of space each new photo takes up without compromising its quality.
We recommend saving your photos to iCloud as it’s a great way to keep them secure over time. But, it is possible to stop this if you wish, which would likely free up a lot of iCloud space. To do this, head into settings, your Apple ID, iCloud, Manage Storage, Photos, and then press Disable and Delete – but again, understand that this will stop using your iCloud storage for photos and photos won’t be able to be restored later. 
Furthermore, you can simply remove photos individually on iCloud to free up storage by opening Photos, tapping them, then clicking the Trash icon. When it says that it will also be deleted from iCloud Photos, then click Delete Photo. These photos will end up in a “recently deleted” folder which you can also delete to free up even more space. And, if you want a faster way to do this, you can delete entire albums on the Albums tab.
If you’re doing the above, it’s wise to transfer the photos from your phone to PC, then save them on a dedicated hard drive to keep them safe. In fact, it’s possible to transfer lots of files from your phone to your PC; from your contacts and calendars to your iMessages, settings, and photos. 
Or, back them up on another cloud service provider. Most providers offer a promotional free storage amount before charging, so when using a few different ones, you will be getting the maximum amount of cloud storage for free.
As you may notice when assessing what’s taking up all the iCloud storage space, a lot of it is usually iCloud backups. You can remove backups that you don’t need or simply extract just the important data from them. Head to Settings, Apple ID, iCloud, Manage Storage, then click on Backup. You can press Delete Backup and Disable & Delete to confirm, but again, be sure that this is exactly what you intend to delete. It’s possible to simply exclude certain apps from this backup, which will also free up space.
Under Manage Storage in the iCloud settings, you can click on iCloud Drive and see the files stored here. For example, Documents and Data can be deleted. But, heading into your Mailbox (assuming these are being saved on iCloud) and deleting the mail and then emptying Trash can also free up space, as well as deleting messages. In fact, you can head to the Messages app, choose All Messages, and delete all of them with the Trash icon.
Ultimately, iCloud backs up certain apps. And, not all of these apps need to use iCloud, but it depends on the person. So, one of the fastest and most direct ways to free up space is to simply uncheck the apps that you don’t want to use iCloud (under iCloud > Manage Storage). 
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