How to Recover Email Storage Space on the iPhone

Storage building with moving truck in front of it

Every time you get an email on your iPhone (or iPad), the message is saved so it can be found via search later. This includes all the text from the email as well as any attachments.

If you don’t work in email on your iPhone too often, this probably isn’t an issue for you. But if, like many people, you live out of your inbox, especially on the iPhone, then all those emails and attachments can pile up pretty quickly. Add to this the possibility of a smaller-capacity iPhone and you have a recipe for some serious space issues.

There is no perfect way to clear mail attachments out of iOS, but there are a few tricks you can try to reclaim some of that precious iPhone email storage space, and we’ve got them below.

RELATED: How to Delete Duplicate Contacts on iPhone

Check Your Storage

Before getting into the methods of storage reclamation, you should check and see if mail attachment storage space is indeed an issue for you. To check on how much space Mail is taking up, open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap on General > Usage.

Usage screen in iPhone Settings

Depending on how much you have installed and stored on your iPhone, this may take a few seconds to load. Once the page loads, you want to look under the Storage section and find Mail to see how much space Mail and attachments are taking up on your device.

If the number is acceptable to you, then this is where the tutorial ends for you. Check out our other iPhone tutorials and fix some other issues. But if you have far more storage tied up in mail than you’d like, keep reading.

Method 1: The No-Fun Manual Method

The first method is to go through your emails and find ones that are heavy on the downloads and delete them. This is a pretty big pain since there’s nothing showing you where these huge emails live or how large they are, but if you already know of a few emails with huge attachments, this could be a quick fix.

Since this is a far from optimal solution, let’s look at Method 2, which is also somewhat of a pain but can still get your email storage space back.

SEE ALSO: How to Set Up and Use IFTTT on Your iPhone

Method 2: Remove and Re-Add Your Email Account in iOS

This method is basically the Scorched Earth version of solving the problem, but right now it’s the best one out there. Basically, you delete your email account from your iPhone and then add it back again. This removes all downloaded emails and attachments, giving you a clean slate to work from while allowing your emails to stay on the server.

Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

Before you get started, make sure you have the following:

  • Recent backup of your iPhone
  • Email address, username, and password for your email account
  • Access to any authorization apps if you have 2-step verification on

Once you have these readily at hand, make sure your username and password work by logging into the Web client.

1. With this done, open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

Settings screen on iPhone

2. Next, tap on the email account that you feel is taking up the most storage space and scroll to the bottom of its page. You should see a button that reads Delete Account in red. Tap on this to continue.

Gmail account settings on iPhone screen

3. You’ll get a prompt to verify that you do indeed wish to remove the account. Tap on Delete from My iPhone and the account will be removed.

Deleting email account from iPhone in process

4. Hit your Home button to go to the Home screen. Double-press the Home button and close the running Mail and Settings apps.

5. Restart your iPhone. This will clear out any caches that may have downloads in them.

6. Once your iPhone reboots, open the Settings app and tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars again, but this time tap on Add Account at the bottom of the account list.

RELATED: How to Set Up a Gmail Account in iOS 7

7. Enter the information for your account. When you’re done, make sure you’re syncing all the information you want, including Email, Contacts, and Calendars.

When you’re done you should see a large reduction in storage being used by Mail. If not, then try the method above on other email accounts. Hopefully this issue is resolved in future iterations of iOS, but for now, this will get you back that wasted email storage space.

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