Google Photos: How to Free Up Space on your phone

If you take a lot of photos and your phone is getting full, you may one day see a message that there is not enough free storage to take any more photos.

Google Photos has a one-click “Free Up Space” command that will delete all photos and videos from your device if they have been backed up to Google Photos in the cloud.

Just select your account button in the upper right and you should see something like the image below.

This command is the correct way to remove photos and videos from your device. Don’t use the trashcan icon in Google Photos because that will delete all copies, both on-device and cloud, of the photos. And don’t use the native photos or gallery app because they may delete photos from the device that have not been backed up to Google Photos.

When you use the Free Up Space option in the Google Photos app, those photos won’t be “gone”, they just won’t be taking up space on your phone anymore. You will still be able to see and access them all in the cloud when you use the Google Photos app.

“We recommend copying your photos and videos to an additional location (such as OneDrive, or DropBox, or your computer) before using free up space. If you don’t, then your only copy is the Google Photos cloud copy. You still need a backup.”

See Chapter 6 in Learn Google Photos book.

Apple devices:

  • The Apple iOS system has its own version of a recycle bin, so using the Google Photos process still does not free up the space on your device until you go to the Apple Photos App, select Albums and Recently Deleted, then select the photos and Delete from there.
  • You also need to know that, when you delete photos from your iPhone, the iCloud copy will also be deleted. That’s just how iCloud works. Its job is to keep all your Apple devices in sync. If you delete from one, it deletes from all. If you use the Google Photos “Free Up Space” command, all the photos deleted from your iPhone will also be deleted from your iPad, your Mac, and

Even after letting Google Photos “Free Up Space” you may still see photos on your device using the native photo or gallery app. This may happen for a variety of reasons:

  • The photo did not get uploaded to Google Photos for some reason. Try manually uploading it.
  • The photo or video is stored on your phone’s SD card. The Free Up Space feature will not delete from the card.
  • The photo or video may be stored in a device folder that is not being synced to Google Photos.
  • The photo or video is corrupted in some way. Use the native app to delete it.