How To Free Up Space On Your iPad & Make it More Stable

by Reads (8,010)

Did you do your tablet spring cleaning yet? There’s never a bad time for routine iPad maintenance, but if you need an excuse, here it is.  Spring cleaning your iPad can open up more storage, as well as make it more stable.

To be clear, none of these tips are absolutely necessary; they are suggestions for those who’d like their iPad to run just a bit better. And this same process can be done with an iPhone.

iPad Regular MaintenanceHow To Restart the iPad

Apple’s iOS is generally very stable, but the occasional restart is still a good idea. This completely clears out the RAM’s contents, and starts everything over fresh. It can be done every week or so, or if the iPad starts acting oddly.

Restarting the device is quite simple. Press and hold the power button down for 2-3 seconds, and a slider labeled “slide to power off” will appear. Slide it, then let the device sit for 10-20 sec., even after it shuts down Next, press and hold the power button for a second or two and the device will boot up.

There’s an option that’s almost as good and takes less time. Press and hold the power button until the “slide to power off” option appears. Release the power button then press and hold the home button on the front of the iPad for 4-5 sec. until the home screen reappears. This shuts down all running applications, but not the iOS device itself.

How To Remove Old Apps and Files

Those who have an iPad with 16GB of built-in capacity will soon find themselves running short of storage. Eventually the same will happen to those with higher capacities. It’s hard to avoid app clutter. So one of the best ways to fix this is to get rid of unnecessary applications and files.

The first step is to look over your apps and ask, “When did I use this last?” Delete anything that hasn’t been opened for a few months, especially games. Press and hold on the icon for the application for 1-2 sec. until an X is superimposed on the icon. Tap on the X to delete that app, and any (many?) others. Some apps can’t be deleted, and those won’t get the X. Tap the physical home button to get out of deleting mode.

iPad Regular Maintenance

Delete apps by tapping their X

Don’t be overly cautious: the App Store makes it easy to reinstall software, and it’s certainly not necessary to re-buy it; just go to App Store > Purchased > Not on this iPad for a list of previously deleted titles. A tap and short wait while the app re-downloads is all it takes.

And don’t forget about old files, as these can take up more space than applications. These can be ebooks, videos, pictures, and more. This isn’t a suggestion to delete stuff that’s frequently used, but if a significant amount of storage is being taken up by items that are just gathering virtual dust, it’s time to clear them out.

Start by going to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage to see a list of the applications that are taking up the most space. Many of these apps are such hogs because they include many files.

iPad Regular Maintenance

Settings > General > Storage > iCloud Usage > Manage Storage

If iBooks or Play Books is near the top of that list, clean out the shelves of anything that’s already been read. Ebooks purchased from iTunes can be redownloaded at any time; these remain listed in this application with a cloud symbol attached. With iOS 9.3, EPUBs that have been purchased from other bookstores are stored on iCloud so they can be easily re-installed as well.

Old movies and TV shows purchased from iTunes and listed in the Videos app can also be deleted and downloaded later to be re-watched.

Another category that can easily grow out of control is pictures. One way to handle these is to move them to a flash drive that supports Apple’s lightening connector, like the SanDisk iXpand or Lexar JumpDrive C20i. Another option is to subscribe to a cloud storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive that can automatically upload all images on an iPad or iPhone.

MP3 collections can also be moved to a flash drive that supports music, oryou can completely delete them off the tablet or phone and instead subscribe to a streaming service like Spotify.

How To Organize App Icons

When new applications install, the icon for each appears on the home screen. Without maintenance, the home screen can become a random collection of icons, making it hard to find anything. With any unneeded software deleted, it’s time to organize what’s left.

First off, put the six most used applications in the Dock–the bar across the bottom of the home screen. To move an app icon in or out of the dock, or rearrange the dock, press and told an app until the icon enlarges, then drag and drop. Press the physical home button when finished moving icons around.

Now it’s time to arrange the remaining software. Applications fall into a few broad categories, like games, utilities, social networking, and entertainment. It makes sense to put all the apps in each of these categories together.

The best way to do this is create a folder for each category, then move the icons for all apps into their appropriate receptacles. Find two applications that are related, then press and hold on one of them until its icon enlarges. Drag that first icon on top of the second one, then release. This will create a folder that contains both icons, and assign a suggested folder name, which can be manually changed. Repeat this process with other app icons to drag and drop them into that folder, and start the process over to create folders for all the categories. Press the physical home button when finished.

iPad Regular Maintenance

Use folders to collect similar applications

Another option is to give each category its own homescreen. This is a very basic system but works for people who don’t have many third party apps and don’t mind doing a lot of swiping between different homescreens.

iOS has a primary home screen and then secondary ones off to the right. By default, there are one or two home screens, but a new one can be created by dragging an app icon off the right side of the last home screen in the collection. An app can be moved between existing home screens by pressing and holding the icon until it enlarges, then dragging it off the right or left side of the display. Press the physical home button to end this process.

How To Backup and Restore the iPad

This should be done once a year no matter how much or how little is stored on the tablet. In fact, you should backup everything on the iPad, completely erase the device, then reinstall from the backup. Apple makes this easy for iPad and iPhone users, and it can all be done without backing up to another computer.

Going through this process will automatically install fresh copies of all the iPad software; the user’s files will come from the backup, and all the third-party applications will be downloaded from the App Store. This is helpful because updating iOS applications through the standard process doesn’t always work perfectly.

In addition, this process frees up additional storage. For example, our test iPad Pro had 16.23GB available before this process and 19.75GB after. A careful examination of the device eventually turned up the collection of files that had been erased to make up much of this difference. We simply missed them while deleting unneeded files as described above.

Step one in the erase-and-restore process is create a backup. Go to Settings > iCloud > Backup and be sure this slider is set to On. Below this is a note indicating the last backup date. If this wasn’t within the last few hours, tap on “Back Up Now” to create a more recent backup. We can’t stress this enough, but you’ll want to do this over Wi-Fi and not a 4G connection. It literally involves  gigabytes of data, likely more than your monthly cellular allotment.

iPad Regular Maintenance

Settings > iCloud > Backup

Once the backup is complete, go to Settings > General > Reset and choose “Erase all Content and Settings”. This will require entering the device’s passcode as a simple security measure. When the iPad has finished erasing itself it will reboot. Move through the setup process until reaching the Apps & Data screen, and tap on the “Restore from iCloud Backup” option. Sign in to iCloud, then the tablet will automatically reinstall everything.

Roughly 99.9% of everything on the computer will be backed up and restored, but a handful of items will need to be manually set up again. Touch ID will need to be retrained, and so will Siri. Bluetooth accessories will need to be paired again, and Apple’s and Google’s ebook applications ask the user to manually re-download the books they want to read.

Cleaning The iPad… Literally

Fingerprints, smudges, and gunk also build up on an iPad. Check out How To Clean Your Tablet’s Screen for a guide on making their device shiny again.

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