Top 10 Ways to Free Up iCloud Storage on Mac

Top 10 Ways to Free Up iCloud Storage on Mac

You need to take the time to manage your iCloud storage quota. From backups, photos and documents, to data syncing apps on iPhone and Mac, Apple uses iCloud. Unless you are doing regular cleansing sessions, you are required to get through a storage plan as soon as possible.

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Some time ago, we considered releasing iCloud storage on iPhone and iPad. In this article, we will also explore ways to do this on Mac. In the end, you’ll hopefully have plenty of iCloud storage available. Let’s start.

1. Delete obsolete backups

By default, iPhones and iPads are automatically configured to back up data to iCloud. However, you can choose to delete backups from any devices you no longer use (or own) to free up huge amounts of storage right from your Mac.

On Mac, go to System Preferences> Apple ID> Manage. Then choose an outdated backup and click on Delete ‘-‘.

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If you delete an iPhone or iPad backup while in use, you are putting that device at risk. In this case, we strongly recommend that you create regular local backups on your Mac using Finder.

2. Delete unwanted photos

All the photos you click with iPhone and iPad often end up using up a lot of space on iCloud storage. If iCloud Photos is enabled on your Mac, you can choose to delete unwanted photos and screenshots to free up space.

Open the Photos app, then dive into categories like Screenshots (located under Media Types in the sidebar) to locate and remove unwanted images (right-click an image and select Remove Photo) .

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You can also select multiple photos to delete; hold down the Command key while clicking the items.

Note: Deleting photos will also remove them from other devices that use iCloud Photos.

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4. Delete junk files in iCloud Drive

Are you using iCloud Drive to sync files and folders between devices? Go to Finder, select iCloud Drive in the sidebar, then delete any unwanted items to free up space.

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Point: Inside any folder, switch to List view, then click the Size column to organize files by size. This should help you identify large files that you no longer need.

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6. Delete iMessage attachments

If you are using iMessage on your iPhone or Mac, you will often end up consuming a lot of iCloud storage because messages and conversations are set to sync between devices by default. In terms of gigabytes, this could work very well at double digits if left unchecked.

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Open the Messages app, then find and delete any unwanted photos, attachments, or conversation threads. Right-click an item and select Remove. If you’re using macOS Big Sur, you can use Messages’ enhanced search features to find unwanted items faster.

7. Disable messages in iCloud

Don’t have time to delete attachments and conversation threads in iMessage? If so, you can choose to turn off the Messages app from syncing data between devices and quickly free up lots of storage in iCloud.

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Go to System Preferences> Apple ID> Manage. Then select Messages, click Disable & Delete.

8. Delete attachments in mail

If you’re using an email account, consider deleting emails with attachments to free up space. Use the filters in the Mail app for quick access.

Open the Mail app on your Mac, then click View> Filter> Turn on Message Filter. Then, go back to the Filter menu and set the criteria to “Only mails with attachments”.

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You can then start deleting unwanted email messages and conversations with large attachments. For more details, see this guide.

9. Delete voice memos

Do you record a lot of voice memos? Since they are configured to sync between devices, your recordings may end up using iCloud storage. So, open the Voice Memos app and delete all unwanted voice memos.

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You should also delete them from the Recently Deleted folder in Voice Memos. Otherwise, they will continue to reside both locally and in iCloud for the next 30 days.

10. Examine and delete other backups

Finally, go to System Preferences> Apple ID> Manage Again and browse the list of different backups made by apps or services on iCloud.

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Then delete the ones you think are unnecessary. For example, you can delete an outdated WhatsApp backup that you no longer need.

Be careful while doing this, as deleted iCloud data is often unrecoverable.

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Regularly reviewing and managing your iCloud storage quota from your Mac (or iPhone) will ensure you don’t run out of space in the worst of times. Of course, not all of the methods listed above are suitable for everyone. But just one action like switching to Google Photos (with its unlimited storage offering) can help prevent what would have seemed like an inevitable upgrade to the next level of iCloud storage for a long time.


iCloud has a lot of nuances. Check out these 8 tips and tricks to start using it like a pro.

Last updated Sep 12, 2020

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