Junk is taking over our lives and our iPads.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 30 years


Cleaning out your iPad fast, Part 1: The easy stuff

April 14, 2013

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, The Post-Standard

I think it was Plato who once said -- oh, heck, maybe it was Jimmy Fallon -- that stuff always accumulates to fill the space allotted to it. The trouble is, this happens long before you've arranged for extra space to handle the overflow.

In other words, junk is taking over our lives.

Take my iPad, for instance. Please take my iPad. It's so full of stuff I've never seen or heard before that it won't hold another picture or another app. I tried to buy a movie from the iTunes Store the other day and couldn't view it because my iPad was out of space.

As you may already know, running out of space on an iPad is a major problem. You can't add extra capacity to an iPad or to any other Apple mobile device. What you bought is what you have. (That's one reason I recommend buying the largest capacity iPad you can afford -- or buying an Android tablet with a plug-in memory card so you can add extra storage easily.)

Then what can you do?

Sit down and stay a spell. I'll tell you everything you need to know.

First, open Settings and choose "General." Near the top of the big window you'll see "Usage." Choose that and your iPad will show the Top 10 space-munching apps. You can also touch the app name for specific usage for apps that have separate categories. The "Photos & Camera" app, for example, shows Camera Roll, Photo Library and Photo Stream. You can see the usage of all your apps by choosing "Show all Apps" at the bottom of that window.

Armed with your search warrant, you can now open the apps that use the most space and trim what you can. Big help, right? If you're used to utilities that can automatically clean out your PC, you might assume the iPad just can't do such a thing.

Ah, but it can. Not even Apple has mentioned the simple method I'm going to tell you about. This is fool proof.

But it does have a catch. So hold on before you grab your tablet.

Except for Photos, Music and iBooks, which store -- don't ask me to say this! -- photos, music and books, your iPad apps usually fill up with plain-old-ordinary stuff, which you'll never miss because you never knew it was there in the first place. So leave your photos, music and books alone for now and clean out the other apps.

How? By deleting them. You do that by touching and holding an app until it wiggles, then touching the "X."

I can hear screaming all over Central New York. But hold on.

Yes, I said you should delete them. No, I'm not going to let you lose any apps.

Apps that get lost, stolen,folded, mutilated, spindled or deleted aren't gone for long. The App Store will give you back, at no cost, any apps that you once bought but no longer have. ("Bought" also means app you "bought" for free.) You simply open the App Store app and choose "Purchased" from the options at the bottom. Then, when your window of purchased apps opens, choose "Not on This iPad" at the top.

On my iPad, which might have a slightly different version of the app from yours, opening the "Purchased" function automatically starts restoring apps I no longer have. You may find that you have to start the transfers yourself.

But why intentionally delete apps you still want to have? The secret is what happens to all the app's data -- all its stuff -- when you delete it.

It's cleaned out for good. It vanishes. Deleting an app throws the baby out with the bath water. All the space taken up by the app and all its stuff is given back to your iPad. And when you get the app back from the App Store, you just get the app, not the stuff.

Voila! Or "viola," as my musician friends say. You did an automatic cleanup. Quick and easy.

Next: Getting the other stuff -- photos, books, videos and music -- off your iPad.