Here are 3 easy ways to clear out the junk on your phone

Mar 4, 2024, 4:05 AM

Image of person holding cellphone in their hand....

Discover how minimal effort and guidance in decluttering can lead to a streamlined and enjoyable user experience. (Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

It used to be that you bought a new phone and got a fresh start. Now we just copy over all the junk from the old model onto the new one.

Sure, it’s faster and shinier, but it’s packed with files you don’t need, contacts you haven’t talked to in years and photos you don’t remember taking — or want to see again.

It doesn’t take much effort to clear things out if you know what to do. I’ve got your back. Set aside a few minutes. You’ll thank yourself (and me) later.

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Use your phone’s built-in tools

The iPhone has a handy hidden folder most people don’t know about: Duplicates. The Photos app identifies when you have multiple versions of a picture or video so you can clear all but the highest-quality version.

  • In the Photos app, tap Albums > Duplicates. Duplicate photos and videos will appear next to each other.
  • Tap Merge to combine the duplicates, then tap Merge [number] Items.

Anything you merge will go to your Recently Deleted folder in case you want to get it back. Just hurry.

On Android, the Files app from Google does something similar.

  • Open Files. At the bottom, you’ll see Clean. Tap that to see a list of junk clogging up your phone — old screenshots, downloaded files and lots more.
  • Choose a category, then hit Select files.
  • Tap All items, then Delete. Click Confirm to finish the job.

Want to dive deeper into your photos? These apps do the hard work of clearing out the junk for you.

Clear the inbox you forget about

Nope, not your old Yahoo account. I’m talking about texts. All those messages —

and the photos and videos you’ve sent and received — take up space and make it hard to find who you really want to talk to.

Just swipe on a chat to bring up the option to delete. You can also hold down on the chat to bring up options.

  • On iPhone, long-press a texting thread and a menu will appear. Select Delete > Delete.
  • On Android, hold down on a thread, then hit the trash can icon.

Be sure to clear marketing texts, spam, one-time codes and anything else that’s just taking up space.

Pro tip: You can pin a conversation at the top of your text inbox so it’s always right there at the top.

  • On an iPhone or Android, it works the same way. Open your text messages, then tap and hold a conversation thread. You should see the option to Pin or a pushpin icon. Tap one and you’re good to go.

The nuclear option

No kidding, one IT genius at Komando HQ wipes his phone once a year. It seems like a pain (and it is a bit), but it can keep yours running fast and smooth. Think about it — there’s so much less junk piled up if you clear it all out regularly.

Be sure to back your phone up first, then a factory reset makes it easy to on-board all your important info.

On iPhone:

  • Open Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset.
  • Select Erase All Content and Settings.

On Samsung:

  • Open Settings > General management.
  • Swipe to and tap Reset, then Factory data reset > Reset.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts to confirm, then tap Delete all.

On Google Pixel:

  • Open Settings > System > Reset options > Erase all data (factory reset).
  • To erase all data from your phone’s internal storage, tap Erase all data.

Keep your tech-know going

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Here are 3 easy ways to clear out the junk on your phone