Among the small sized life regrets list, add my decision to buy a 16GB iPhone. I store no music on it, offload all but a few key dog photos, and regularly toss off apps I stop using.

Still, I regularly come to a point, like last night, when I checked and saw that there was only 117 Mb of space left. Sure enough, the regular suspects, the flickr app, the instagram app, even Words with friends had ballooned up to 3, 4 (and in case of flickt almost 10) times the app size when you install it.

I could see a 500Mb chunk taken by the iOS update file I did not know I asked for.

A year ago, I would have deleted flickr and re-installed.

But instead, I did something you would not have guessed I would do to remedy this situation… on my phone I went to the iTunes store and looked for an HD movie to rent.


The last time I was dealing with this, I did the logical thing and whinged on twitter. My good friend Raj asked a strange question:

and then sent me to the strangest tech trick I’ve come across:

I’ve done this on the phone a few times, my also skimpy 16Gb iPad, and suggested to a few friends.

All you do is try to rent an HD movie (which is a couple of Gb), it tries to download, then reports there’s not enough space. I usually do it twice, I’ve heard that maybe 2 or 3 attempts gets the maximum effect.

So after twice failing to rent / download Inglorious Bastards, I returned to my iOS Storage settings– woah, my spare space had jumped from 117 Mb to 2.1 Gb! The Flickr app went from 900 Mb back down to 192 Mb.

Clearly, the iOS system is able to do a bunch of memory cleanup if it thinks it can download an HD video and suck a few bucks from you.

So why is there not a “lose weight now” button on its storage settings?

Maybe it’s better having this quirky solution. I love hearing people’s responses when I suggest doing this, and more love hearing their joy when they knock a few Gb of flab off their iPhone.

Featured Image: Lose weight now flickr photo by Alan Cleaver shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license to which I masked the feet and the note, and pasted a screenshot of my iOS storage settings. The PNG iOS logo came from the Chamber App site.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Turns out this also works if you try to download a movie that you have previously purchased but isn’t on your phone. Save a few bucks on rental fees.

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