Although iPads — from mini models to full-blown 12.9-inch versions — are transformational computers that provide powerful, highly mobile tools that change the way people work, they still suffer from a traditional failing: The more you load programs, videos, photos and other files, the quicker the device runs out of storage.
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With some current iPad models sporting just 64GB storage, the rate at which free space fills can prove alarming. Here’s how to check an iPad’s storage status and the steps you can take to free needed space when storage runs low.
How to free iPad storage space for new apps and files
Check an iPad’s storage by tapping Settings and selecting iPad Storage, as shown in Figure A.
The iPad will then display a color-coded bar across the top of the iPad Storage menu, as shown in Figure B. Note, the iPad processor may require a few seconds to calculate and display the storage bar.
In addition to displaying the progress-like bar indicating how much space apps, photos, iPadOS itself, messages and media are consuming, the iPad also presents recommendations for managing storage. One recommendation option is to offload unused apps; another is to offload large attachments.
iPadOS permits automatically removing applications you don’t use. In my experience, users routinely install applications they believe they will use but then end up not needing and forgetting about.
Tap the Enable option for Offload Unused Apps and iPadOS will remove programs when storage space grows tight. The documents and data you created using the app will remain behind, and if it turns out you need the app later, you can always download the program again.
To manually remove unneeded applications, tap and hold an application until the iPad displays a pop-up menu with the Remove App option and select that action. Confirm the deletion, and iPad will then remove the app, freeing the corresponding space.
iPadOS also permits identifying particularly large attachments stored within the Messages app. These attachments can consume a surprising amount of space. To learn how much space these attachments are occupying, tap the Review Large Attachments option. The iPad will display a list of large attachments and note each entry’s size.
To delete a large attachment, slide the entry left and tap the red Delete button that will appear. Alternatively, you can tap Edit in the top right corner and select multiple attachments you can then delete by tapping the trash can icon that will appear within the top right corner.
The iPad Storage menu also lists, in size order, applications eating space, as shown in Figure C. iPadOS doesn’t just list the apps but also the space each program occupies and sometimes individual files associated with each app.
Tapping individual entries often presents additional options, too, as shown in Figure D. Actions can include Offload App and Delete App and occasionally the ability to delete specific files associated with an application. The options that appear for each entry vary depending upon the program.
Using iPadOS’ iPad Storage settings, you can quickly confirm remaining free space. Potentially more important, you can use iPad Storage to conveniently confirm elements consuming the most space, remove unneeded files and apps and even automatically remove unused apps when space runs low to help keep you creating, editing, messaging and working using Apple’s popular tablet.