Cleaning Photos & Movies off Your iOS Device
My iPhone only has 16GB of memory. That seemed like it’d be enough, but boy was I wrong. It seems that I’m constantly running out of space on this thing!
Check your free space
Photos are probably one of, if not the, biggest space hogs on your device. It’s easy to see how much storage it (and everything else) is taking. Just tap on Settings, then General > Usage. It’ll take a few moments (or several minutes if you have a larger capacity device), but eventually you’ll see a screen like this.
As you can see, Photos & Camera is taking a whopping 1.9 GB of my 16GB device. And tapping on that will show more detail; in my case, the Camera Roll is taking 768 MB, and Photo Stream is taking 1.1 GB.
If I want to clear off Photo Stream, I can do that by unsubscribing to streams from other people, but in my case most of those are streams I’ve sent myself (read this post to learn why) — mostly collections of photos I want on my iOS devices for whatever reason. (Unfortunately on iOS 7, you can’t unsubscribe from your own stream on one device and leave it on others — all you can do is delete the stream, which deletes it everywhere).
So let’s get rid of that 768 MB, shall we?
Selecting individual images to delete on the iPhone sucks
You can go to the Photos app, tap Select, individually tap each. and. every. photo… then delete. But if you have more than a few, that is not a fun way to do it. So, onward…
Using Image Capture to delete photos and videos
When your iOS device is plugged in to your Mac (you can’t do this wirelessly), launch Image Capture.app from the Applications folder, and select your device in the column on the left.
You can just select all and delete, but of course before you do that, you need to make sure you have these photos somewhere else! Or not… if you really don’t care, then just go for it. But assuming you do…
What is safe to delete?
If you’re using a Photo Stream on your iOS device and in Aperture (or iPhoto), then all of your photos have already been copied, and therefore are safe to delete from your device. The videos however have not, so we’ll get to those.
If you’re not using Photo Stream then you’re probably connecting your iOS device to the computer and manually importing into Aperture or iPhoto, in which case you’re probably also deleting the photos after import, in which case… you don’t really need to be reading this tip ;-)
Back to the Photo Stream users. So this awesome service has been faithfully copying your photos from every iOS device you own to the cloud, to your Mac, and to your other iOS devices. Neat! Yet, those videos have been orphaned, and now it’s time to save them.
Option 1: Import movies directly to Aperture
At this point your phone is already plugged in, so just launch Aperture and open the import pane (if it doesn’t open automatically). On the right, you may see File Types (if not, click the Import Settings drop-down in the top right, and choose it from there). Under File Types, select Exclude photos, and all the photos on your device will be hidden, leaving you with just the videos.
Now, you can import those into Aperture just like you would import anything else.
Option 2: Copy movies to your Desktop (or another app)
If you’re not storing movies in Aperture or iPhoto (maybe you prefer to organize them in iMovie or Final Cut Pro X), then you could launch those apps and import into there. But personally, I find it quicker to just copy them to the Desktop using Image Capture, and deal with them later.
To isolate your movies, click on the Kind column in Image Capture, and all files will be sorted by their kind (i.e. file type).
As you can see on my iPhone, I only had one movie file. It actually took a moment to find, because it was collected between the PNG files (iPhone screen captures), and the JPG files (photos).
Another option would be to sort by file size. Sort so the biggest ones are at the top, and those would be your movies. Of course this isn’t 100% safe as you may have some very small movies, but odds are if they are smaller than a picture, they are probably mistakes and not worth keeping anyway.
To copy the files you need to save, simply select them and click Import. Be sure you know where they are going — that drop down on the left will let you change from the default Pictures folder to anywhere else you like.
Notice that you can even import into Aperture from here. If you choose this option, it will import into an Untitled project. So that’s an option, but if you don’t immediately switch to Aperture and name and place your project, you’ll just end up with a pile of mystery projects. And if you’re going to go to Aperture now, you may as well import them directly as described under option 1 above, and have all the Aperture import options like renaming, metadata, etc.
Time to delete
Now for the part you’ve been waiting for… clearing off that space! Once you’ve verified you have all these files in your computer (again, you shouldn’t have to, because all your stills should have already been imported via Photo Stream, but I have to say it), just select all in Image Capture and hit that lovely red delete icon. OK, it looks like a do-not-enter icon, or cancel icon, so not really sure who came up with that idea, but that’s the one…
You’ll get a confirmation dialog, and once confirmed, you’ll see all your photos quickly disappear off your device.
In a hurry? Delete just the biggest files
If you’re in a hurry to reclaim space and can’t be bothered to verify the rest of your photos are actually in Aperture (you shouldn’t have to do that, but if I don’t recommend checking before deleting, someone will get burned!), you could just copy off the biggest files and delete them from the device, and come back for the rest another time.
Verify your freedom!
Go back to Settings > General > Usage and check out your free space! Yeah yeah I need to delete some other things on my iPhone, but hey… 808 MB available is better than 164!