Cleaning on the iPhone: Tips for digital decluttering

With Christmas and New Year's Eve, there are always good resolutions for the new year. In addition to making everyday life more beautiful, eating healthier, doing more sport, using less social media and the like, digital mucking out can also be part of it. Over the year, iPhone and other devices may have too many photos, out-of-date notes, duplicate contacts, and ones that haven't been used in ages Apps accumulated. I have summarized everything you can remove when cleaning your iPhone to free up memory here. There are also tips to ensure that important content is not accidentally lost.

Mucking out, tidying up and using more efficiently: cleaning up the Apple iPhone makes for an easier start to the new year. Here you will find numerous tips and hints on appropriate measures. Incidentally, you can also use this on the iPad and Mac.
Mucking out, tidying up and using more efficiently: cleaning up the Apple iPhone makes for an easier start to the new year. Here you will find numerous tips and hints on appropriate measures. Incidentally, you can also use this on the iPad and Mac.

Muck out in front of the iPhone: Create a backup on a Mac or PC

Under macOS on the Apple Mac you can use the Finder (current versions) and via iTunes (older versions) back up the data on your iPhone. With a backup as an image of the current system state, installed apps and saved files, you always have the option to restore the iPhone to the pinned state. On a PC with Windows, this also works via iTunes. It's a good idea to keep a copy of iPhone on Mac, PC and/or iCloud in case important data is lost while cleaning out.

Preview photos, messages and other iCloud data

If you have your iPhone photos, iMessages and any other content automatically synchronized with your iCloud storage, then you should only delete the relevant items with care. Because if you remove them from the iPhone, they can also be deleted from the iCloud via synchronization with Apple's cloud storage. If synchronization is activated, it is therefore advisable to pack the photos, messages, notes, etc. to be kept in another cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) or on an external hard drive using a computer, in addition to the iPhone backup mentioned above. This also applies to e-mails and contacts.

Cleaning on the iPhone: can it go away?

You can use a variety of measures to free up more memory on the Apple iPhone or to generally increase clarity. Of course, the most effective of these are related to deleting content. But also rearranging, moving or summarizing can help to keep track. Here are a few examples, which you are welcome to add your tips to in the comments:

  • Merge duplicate contacts: Away iOS 16 The Contacts app shows directly whether there are duplicates – for example, if you have created an entry with a private phone number and another with a business phone number for an identical name. If so, you'll see the option to merge.
  • Delete old contacts: From the number of an insurance consultation or a delivery service that you no longer need to the contact details of former acquaintances, there are always entries that you can remove from the Contacts app (this is also transferred to other devices via iCloud).
  • Delete apps you no longer use: These are also legacy issues that can be gotten rid of. Some apps take up quite a bit of space, which can make deleting really worthwhile. For an overview of all installed apps, go to the right of the last home screen in the app media library. If you swipe down there, you get an alphabetical list of the installed programs.
  • Summarize home screens: Thematically related or frequently used apps can be combined in folders. So you can reduce the number of home screens and still keep all the programs you need visible. I use e.g. B. One folder each for messenger apps, travel and navigation apps, shopping apps, translator and language apps, etc.
  • Delete old photos and multiple shots: Product photos for eBay classifieds, the WiFi code in the hotel, duplicate photos, pictures taken by mistake, inspiration for the home found in a furniture store, far too many holiday photos – all this and more can accumulate in the Photos app. In addition to deleting, you can also use different albums and foldersto sort the pictures taken and find them more quickly.
  • Delete notes, reminders and freeform boards: Here, too, there are many things that can eventually go, from the digital shopping list to the dimensions of the new kitchen. Whether it's the Notes app, Reminders app or the new one Freeform app – sort out old things from time to time so as not to get bogged down.
  • Remove old messages and chats: If you maintain regular contact with individuals, then of course it makes no sense to simply remove the corresponding message history. But the group chat to plan that one birthday party from two years ago can go. And the verification code of an app or an online service as well. You can copy or write down individual information such as addresses, recipes, etc., but then delete the chat.
  • Clean out cloud storage and note-taking apps: In addition to iCloud, you may also use Dropbox, Google Drive or similar cloud solutions on the iPhone. You may use for notes, links, images and the like Notion or a similar app. You can also sort folders or delete things in these ways of accumulating all sorts of stuff.
  • Sort out or mark e-mails: In addition to emails that can be deleted, there may also be emails that you really want to keep. You can mark the latter with small flags in the Mail app for a better overview. Simply hold down and then use the "Mark" menu (mails are usually deleted and processed across devices and clients). 
  • Clean out and sort other app content: Depending on which other apps you use on the iPhone, you can make their use more efficient through more order. From playlists in the Music app to favorites in Google Maps to passwords in 1Password, there's a lot that might have been neglected that could be put in order.

Don't forget the recycle bins and deleted folders

Photos, Mail, Notes and other apps do not immediately and irretrievably delete the removed content. You will often find a directory in their folder structure that is called "Deleted", "Recently deleted", "Recycle bin" or something similar. Depending on the app and setting, the removed content is kept there for a certain period of time (which makes it easier to restore) and only then is it finally removed from the device. In the Photos app, the grace period is 30 days by default. If you are sure about certain content or if you need more storage space quickly, then remove the content found there in order to throw it off the device manually.

What are your tips for keeping your iPhone organized?

I hope that one or the other tip for the big cleaning on the Apple iPhone has helped you. I think that sometimes you have to tidy up digitally in order to keep your smartphone, tablet, computer or other frequently used devices in good shape and to make everyday life better. You save time and nerves by not having to search as much for the things you need afterwards. What tips can you add? Feel free to leave a comment with your methods :)

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