Android Oreo arrived with much, well-deserved, ballyhoo. It is, after all, one of the the most polished and efficient iterations of the platform. However, of all the new features to come along with the latest release, there's one that hasn't received nearly the attention it deserves. That feature has a name: Storage Manager. However, most have discussed the automated aspect of the new addition to Android, foregoing the manual option. That manual option comes by way of a single button. Said button happily proclaims "Free up Space". What does the feature do? Exactly as it says. With the help of this new feature, users can quickly (and easily) free up much-needed space on Android devices.
Of course, the feature doesn't just randomly delete anything and everything. What the Free Up Space button does is give you the means to easily delete files from Downloads and calculates what installed apps you most infrequently use, and then presents them for uninstall. This one-two punch can go a long way to help ensure your Android device has enough storage to function. Naturally, to make use of this feature, you have to be willing to actually delete things.
With that said, let's see how easy this feature is to use.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)
As you probably have figured out, there is no installation to be had for the Free Up Space feature. Your device, however, must be running Android 8 (Oreo). Any lesser release and you won't find the feature. If you do happen to have a smartphone or tablet running Oreo, you may proceed.
Open up the Settings app on your device and then tap Storage & memory. In that new window, you will see the FREE UP SPACE button (Figure A).
Tap that button and wait for the app to calculate the available files and apps that can be deleted. When the calculation is complete, you will be presented with everything that can be deleted. By default, all files will be selected for deletion (Figure B), whereas infrequently used apps must be selected. Go through that list and uncheck anything you do not want to delete.
Depending on how much you have in the Downloads section, going through this could be a chore. There is a way to uncheck all downloads in one fell swoop. What you have to do is tap the Downloads category such that the individual files are no longer listed (and you only see the category—Figure C).
Once the individual files are neatly tucked into the category, tap the checkbox to de-select all. You can then re-expand the listing and go through to check only those you want to delete. After you've combed through both categories, tap the FREE UP XXX button (where XXX is the amount of space you'll free up) at the bottom right corner of the screen and then, when prompted, tap REMOVE. In my example, I am able to free up a quick 1.04 GB, without losing any particular downloaded files or infrequently used apps that I'd prefer to keep (Figure D).
Do note, when you use this app for the first time, it will ask if you want to manage storage automatically. What this will do is enable the Android Storage manager, a feature that will automatically remove backed up content from your device. If you are certain your data is being backed up to Google Drive, and are okay with having Android automatically remove it from your device, tap TURN ON; otherwise, tap NO THANKS and you can then use FREE UP SPACE manually. Use this manual method on a regular basis and your device will always have enough space to function properly (given you are willing to delete files and apps).
Everything you need, built in
For the longest time, freeing up space on Android often required the help of a third-party app. That time is no more. Keeping your Android device free from unwanted downloads and infrequently used apps has never been so easy. Make use of this feature to keep your device running smoothly.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.