Have WAY Too Many Pictures on Your Phone? Try This Routine to Keep Your Storage in Check

Photographer: Paul KabataFor editorial and internal use only. No advertising or print.Product Credits: Uniqlo Turtleneck,7 For All Mankind Jumpsuit
POPSUGAR Photography | Paul Kabata
POPSUGAR Photography | Paul Kabata

I'd tell you how many pictures are on my phone, but I'm too embarrassed, so let's just say there are a lot of them. The photos go all the way back to 2011, the year I bought my first iPhone, and while I've always taken plenty of pictures, the number increased tenfold once I became a parent, and my camera roll got pretty out of control. So how do I maximize my storage, and how often should you delete the pictures on your phone? Well, a few months ago, I came up with a simple routine to keep the number of photos in check, and it's been a game changer.

For me, the hardest part has always been remembering to delete pictures. At any given event, I'd take a bunch of photos, maybe post one on social media, and then forget to delete all the ones that weren't worth saving. Those blurry extras quickly add up! Toss in a whole lot of baby photos that all seem cute enough to keep, the product screenshots you swear you'll revisit later, plus some concert videos (don't worry, I'm not a person who holds up my phone throughout the whole concert! Maybe just a song snippet or two!), and suddenly you're looking at several thousand pictures on your phone. Yikes.

The more the photos added up, the more daunting the task of deleting them started to feel, so I procrastinated. "Oh, I'll clean this up on a rainy day," I'd think, and then a month or so would pass and another couple hundred photos would be added to the mix. Eventually, I decided I needed to come up with a system.

Here's the photo-deleting routine I follow now:

  • Monthly: I've set up an alert on my phone to remind me at the beginning of each month to delete photos from the previous few weeks. That way, I'm only dealing with a month's worth of pictures each time, and it's a fairly quick to-do that I can complete while watching TV or commuting.
  • Seasonally: Every few months, I revisit photos from the past season because usually, with a little bit of distance, there are more pictures I feel fine about deleting, especially when it comes to screenshots of products I liked or the eighth video of my son reading.
  • Annually: After having to buy more iCloud storage at one point, mostly because of my giant photo collection, I've made a point to reevaluate my iCloud situation at the end of each year. It's one of those things that I'd forget to do until it was too late, but now that I've gotten used to this regular routine, it's just another step I'll add each December.

No, this system isn't exactly an earth-shattering concept, but it is a very simple way to keep the photos on your phone more organized, and it's pretty great to know that you don't have to sift through a whole bunch of pointless pictures to find the ones that are most special to you.

Looking for more tech hacks? Check out helpful iPhone tips, including how to manage iCloud storage.