By: Ashley Thielen and Maria Ruiz
Yesterday was the first day of Spring (GOODBYE WINTER!) and what better way to celebrate than with a little Spring cleaning! And we’re not just talking about your closet – your tech gadgets could use a little purging and cleaning up, too!
Here are some tips for cleaning up your smartphone.
- Find what’s eating up your memory
First things first – let’s find out what’s eating up the memory on your phone! This can be found in your device settings. For Android N, go to Settings > Storage. Here you can see how much storage you have used and have much you have left. You can also see what apps are taking up the most storage by clicking Apps.
- Clear the cache
Most Android apps store data so that future requests for that data can be completed faster. This is cached data. These files are stored in app caches for convenience and aren’t really necessary. They are essentially just junk files that take up space (all of which can add up to over a gigabyte!). You can see how much space the cached data is taking up by going to Settings > Storage on your Android device. If you need to clear up space on your phone, clearing your cache is a safe and easy way to do so. To clear an apps cache, go to your Settings > Storage > Apps, then select the app and tap Clear Cache. To clear the cache for ALL apps, tap Settings > Storage > Cached data, then tap OK in the confirmation window.
- Delete apps you don’t use
Let’s be honest, you probably have some apps on your phone that you never (or rarely) use. Time to DELETE! To figure out which apps are taking up the most space, open Settings and go to Storage > Apps. Your apps will be listed by size – the biggest apps will be at the top. Now it’s time to decide which apps you can and cannot live without (you have ESPN, ESPN Tournament Challenge and NCAA March Madness Live, do you NEED all 3?).
To delete an app that you installed, open Settings and go to Apps > select the app you would like to delete > tap Uninstall. What about those pre-installed apps that you can’t delete? IT’S NOT FAIR, I KNOW. But you can “disable” them and save yourself some of that storage in Android 4.0 and higher. To do so, select the app you would like to delete in under your settings and tap Disable. You can always go back and enable the app later.
- Organize your apps.
Now that you only have apps left that you actually use, rearrange and group them together to make your home screen less cluttered! On Android, you can move an app on your home screen (and between home screens) by tapping and holding the app and moving it left or right to put it on a different page. You can group your apps into folders by dragging the apps on top of one another. You can rename the folder by simply tapping it. Grouping your apps into folders make your phone seem so much more organized! Try grouping them into social media, work, photos, music, etc.
- Use an SD card and cloud storage
Another easy way to save storage on your phone is by storing files on an SD card or cloud storage, like the Google Drive (which gives you 15GB of free storage!)
Photos and videos can take up a significant amount of your phone’s storage, and you can save space by putting them on an SD card or Google Photos. Google Photos is awesome because it allows you to back up your entire photo library to your online Google account for free! You can choose to back up your photos at “high quality” resolution (up to 16 megapixels) or at the original size. Google Photos only offers unlimited storage for “high quality” photos, and any photos backed up at the original size will count against your Google Drive storage limit (15GB) – but, you can pay to upgrade your storage at any time! Once your photos are backed up, you can delete them from your phone to free up space. To do so, open the Google Photos app and go to Settings and turn the Back up & sync switch on. Once you’ve backed up your photos, go to Settings > Free up device storage. The app will tell you how much space will be freed up by deleting your backed-up photos!
Pro Tip: Before backing up your photos, go through and delete any pictures you don’t want. Do you need 30 different versions of the same selfie or can you pick one good one?
You can do this with your music, too! Instead of downloading music, you can free up space by streaming songs with an app like Google Play Music or Spotify. Most streaming apps give you the option to select certain songs to download to your device to listen to offline (when Wi-Fi and data is not available) in addition to allowing you to stream, for a small monthly cost. You can also free up space by keeping your music and podcasts on an SD card.
- Clean up/delete your downloads
Just like your computer, your Android device has a downloads folder where miscellaneous junk files downloaded from the internet are stored. To access your downloads, go to your apps and tap Downloads. If you tap the 3 dots in the corner, you can choose to sort your downloads by size to see what’s taking up the most storage space. If there are any files you don’t need, tap and hold the file to select it, then tap the trash button. This is an easy way to free up storage by purging random junk on your phone!
- Clean up your contacts
Still have the phone number of the Papa Johns from your college town saved in your contacts? Or what about that cute guy you met at the bar whose name is saved as “Hot Guy from Bar” that you never contacted again? Or, even better, Susie Que from 10th grade math class that used to help you with homework? Time to DELETE those numbers. If it’s likely you will never contact the person again, remove their number.
- Get rid of old messages
Like your contacts, it’s time to delete old conversations that you don’t need. Having too many threads can slow down your phone, so if there isn’t any extremely important information that you need in the conversation, delete it! Pictures and videos sent in conversations take up a lot of storage, as well, so save what you need and delete the rest! Rule of thumb: If the conversation is older than 30 days, DELETE!
You can also set message limits for your conversations to automatically deletes old message and prevent your texts from getting out of control. To do this on Android, go to your message settings through the Messaging app and turn on the Delete old messages feature. You can then set text and multimedia message limits for your conversations, which will serve as your “spring cleaning” assistant all the time!
- Unsubscribe from promo emails and clean up your inbox
Does your phone say you have 9,478 unread emails? Same. As part of your tech spring cleaning, you should go through your inbox and delete old emails and junk. Pro Tip: Create a separate email address for promotional emails and loyalty programs so your primary inbox isn’t flooded with random stuff you don’t care about!
- Change location permissions
Privacy aside, allowing to many apps to access your location can slow down your phone. On Android you can view app permissions by going to your device settings and tapping Apps. Select an app and tap Permissions to view if the app has access to your location. You can disable the location permission by selecting the switch next to Location in the menu. (Note: Depending on the app, app functionality can be impacted by disabling location access, so turn them off at your own discretion).
- Update your apps and OS
Updating your phone and apps can be annoying, especially when it seems like new updates come out every other day. It’s easy to ignore the updates, but a lot of the time these updates are important – I mean who wants to miss a cool update or security patch?! JUST DO IT. Even more importantly is making sure your operating system is up to date. While you’re doing your spring cleaning, just get this one out of the way – the improved performance will be worth it.
- Install a cleaning app
Installing a cleaning app can help continuously optimize your phone with minimal effort from your side. One of the most popular cleaning apps for Android phones with 500+ million downloads is Clean Master. Free to download from the PlayStore, some of Clean Masters top features include junk cleaner, battery saver, and free antivirus.
- Clean your touch screen display
Clean oil, dust and grime off your phone screen with a microfiber cloth. If you don’t have one, you can stick a strip of scotch tape to the surface of your screen and peel it off to remove dirt and dust. However, avoid using paper-based wipes! These can create small scratches that can build up over time and affect the responsiveness of your touch screen!
Your phone is dirtier than you realize – despite all the germs on your hands, think of everything your phone touches throughout the day. You don’t have to be a germaphobe to realize that there’s probably some serious bacteria on your phone… the same phone you hold up to your face. It might be tempting to wipe a Clorox wipe across it, but DON’T! Cleaners with alcohol and ammonia can damage the protective coating on your screen, so avoid products with those ingredients and keep an eye out for products that say they are safe for electronics/screens! Don’t forget to clean your case, too!
- Cable drawer
Let’s be honest here – we all have that cable drawer somewhere around the house that is everything but organized. It’s time to untangle those chords and find out which ones you truly need and really don’t. First, separate the chords from the type of USB they are and for what devices you need them for. You can find the image below and see the top 5 most common cables we use today. If you happen to have 16 2xMicro USB cables and only have one device, I think it’s time to unplug.
Figure out which cables you actually use and if you have a couple of the same one, stick with two of your favorite ones (one for your home and one for on the go) and get rid of the rest. Recycle! Best Buy has cable recycling bins right in the entrance, so if you happen to be near one, stop by and say goodbye to the tangles. If you know of a friend or family member that might need it, it never hurts to get those cables a new home, too.
Clean away my dear friends and say hello to SPRING!
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Note: the device we used to write this post runs Android N