How To Use The Google Photos Free Up Device Storage Feature

One of the challenges of today’s smartphones is… their camera. Yes, you heard me right.  The cameras in many of today’s phones are amazingly good, fast and because our phones are always with us, gives us the freedom to snap a photo whenever and wherever we want.  The challenge of course is that your phone doesn’t have unlimited storage and at some point you will have to clear off some photos from the device to get some space back for apps and other data.  If you are a user of Google Photos, there is a built in tool that makes this easy and worry free.

In this How To I’m going to go over the Free Up Space feature in Google Photos for Android and for iOS.  I’ll walk you through how to access it and what it does exactly with the photos on your phone.

First, if you are using Google Photos, this Free Up Space feature should be your first go-to when it comes to deleting photos from your Android or iOS device.  Why?  Because the way the app works, if you delete the photo from your device’s gallery, it will delete it from Google Photos in the cloud too.  If you are an iCloud user, you are use to this behavior as this is how that product works in the iOS world.  For Android users, this has been a bit confusing so remember, go to Google Photos first to delete photos.

From within the Google Photos app, go to Settings then find the option “free up device storage”, the 3rd option down.  Tap on it and the app will do some analysis of the photos on your device and

Free Up Device Storage in Google Photos

Free Up Device Storage in Google Photos

compare that to what is store in your Photos online account.  If it finds the photo online, it marks it for deletion.  If not, it leaves it alone and moves to the next photo in your photos.  When this analysis is done, you will get a pop-up on your device’s display that tells you how many photos or videos are going to be deleted and how much space you will free up on your device.

Before you hit delete, make sure you understand how this is going to impact you and your phone.  Your photos will be available to you but only through the Google Photos app.  They will remain in the Photos section.  They will not however be on your device physically.  You are, after all, freeing up space.  So if you want to have some photos physically on your device after you do this, you will need to go and download them again within Google Photos.  To do this, tap on the photo you want to download then use the menu in the upper-right corner to select “download”.

Also keep in mind, as I outlined, this feature will only delete photos that you have sync’d with Google Photos online.  If you have turned off auto-backup for example and photos have not sync’d, they will remain on your device.

Assuming you are comfortable with all of this, tap on delete and the app will remove the photos from your device.

For more How To’s and other tips, be sure to check out the How To sections here on the site.


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