How to free up extra storage on the Google Pixel

The Google Pixel doesn't come with expandable storage, so you'll want to make sure there's lots of free space for your apps, games and other content. Luckily, Google makes it easy to free storage with these built-in tools.

We're outlining two of those tools in this guide, one built into the phone's storage settings, and one built into Google Photos itself.

How to free up storage by deleting photos and videos that have been uploaded to the cloud

Google makes it easy to free up phone storage by purging photos and videos that are already stored, for free and in full quality, on Google Photos.

  1. Open Google Photos from the home screen or app drawer.
  2. Open up side menu by tapping on three-line menu bar or swiping in from the left.
  3. Tap "Free up space" in the side menu.

  1. Wait for app to tabulate photos stored in the cloud.
  2. Tap Remove to delete them from your phone.

Note: These photos and videos will still be available, in their full quality, Google Photos. If you want to download them again to access them locally, just tap on the greyed-out version in Google Photos and tap Download.

How to free up storage by deleting unused apps and old downloads

The Pixel comes with a useful tool hidden in the settings that frees up content that hasn't been touched in a while. The phone calculates which files have been untouched in over 30 days, and lets you delete them, safely, with one tap.

  1. Swipe down on the notification shade to open the notification drawer.
  2. Tap on the Settings icon (circular cog).
  3. Scroll down and tap on Storage.

  1. Tap on three-dot menu button in the top right.
  2. Tap on Free up space.
  3. Choose items to remove (Photos, Downloads, Apps) and tap Free up in the bottom right.

That's it! The phone will remove those items and you'll be able to press the back button to see how much extra space you have. While the 32GB of minimum storage should be enough for most people with a Pixel, it's always nice to know you have easy ways to free up more.

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

23 Comments
  • How does the pixel cloud work? To my understanding you can't view anything properly unless you download it. But what about access, can you access it from any other device? For how long? What happens 5 years down the line when you aren't using the pixel anymore?
  • It's all managed through Google Photos through the mobile app or through the webpage on Pc. So when you take a picture/video on the Pixel, it'll get saved on the cloud on Google Photos under your account. You can access it at any time from any device (PC, tablet, phone etc) by going to Google Photos and logging into your account. In 5 years time when you aren't using the Pixel, assuming you still remember you Google account's password, you'll be able to log in and see your pictures and videos, safe and sound, and most importantly, in original quality.
  • Regarding some confusion on how this works:
    It's not the pixel cloud, it's Google photos and Google drive. It's the same services as every Google account has access to. It works the exact same way on this phone as it does on every other Android and iOS phone with one minor exception, the photos and videos from a pixel upload to your photos/drive in full resolution and use 0 space. From any other phone the photos and videos get compressed and use 0 space. So literally the only difference between the pixel offering and ... let's say the Samsung Galaxy S7 ..... is the pixel backs up the photos and videos at full resolution and uses 0 space while the Galaxy S7 backs up then compresses the photos and videos and uses 0 space. Regarding "view anything properly":
    Not sure what you mean by this question but you can view everything the same as you can view on any other Android or Apple device using Google photos. You can see no more or no less because you are using a Pixel. You can see the exact same as a non-pixel phone. Regarding "can you access it from any device":
    Yes. Any device that you put your google credentials into, yes. So if you're at a computer at best buy and want to see your photos you can go to photos.google.com, enter your credentials to authenticate, and see your photos and videos. Or you get a new phone and setup the phone with your google credentials, the photos app will have all your photos. But that's not a service limited to just the pixel. this is true for any device. The only thing that's pixel specific is the photos and videos are backed up and available at full resolution. that's it. Regarding "for how long":
    I don't know ... forever? Google has been backing up and storing photos for a very very very very long time. It used to be picasa, then it was renamed to google photos. I have thousands upon thousands of photos backed up. I couldn't begin to guess when if ever they will discontinue this offering. Regarding "What happens 5 years down the line when you aren't using the pixel anymore":
    Nothing. Your photos and videos that you took while using the pixel will be in google photos at full resolution and will still be available to you. The photos and videos that you take with your new non-pixel phone will also be backed up (if you chose) but they will be compressed OR they will use some of your 15gb of photos/drive space. Hope that helps. if you walk away with anything it should be this ..... the only difference between what the pixel does and what every other phone also does is the pixel allows unlimited photo and video storage and full uncompressed resolution without using any of your 15gb of free photos/drive space. That's it. If you read this and still have questions here's a good place to read - https://support.google.com/photos/?hl=en#topic=6128818
  • That's a great detailed answer!
  • So after you explain that ONLY pixel gets full resolution, you go on to explain viewing an downloading them is the same. But clearly it's not the same. Then you have to consider Google spring cleaning this service, and your family photos disappearing while you are deployed overseas or something. The downside of full resolution is exhausting your Google storage. A better solution that works for all phones is a NAS and an app that uploads all your photos totally under your control. Several companies offer these things.
  • What have you read that indicates Google will be spring cleaning their photo and video backups? They have no history of doing so. "The downside of full resolution is exhausting your Google storage." You have missed reading several articles and you didn't fully comprehend the comment you're replying to – the Pixel and Pixel XL are exceptions and will not exhaust storage with full resolution. A NAS is, for many, an unnecessary complication.
  • Please don't make me look up the web page of all the applications Google Spring Cleaned with no prior history of doing so. Were you not paying attention when Google all but terminated the Google Fiber project last month? What's free this week will be a paid service next year or two. Watch and see.
  • ^^^^Excellent!
  • On the verge of Daydream apps and content, more streaming services allowing for offline viewing and listening, 32 GB doesn't seem like forward thinking to me. 64GB and 128GB are future proof. With the ability to take 4K videos and hi-res pictures, 32GB is the new 16GB.
  • I agree there are many scenarios where 32gigs just don't cut the mustard.
    Here is my recent example.
    I went abroad on holiday and filled my phone up with about 7 gigs of music films and podcasts. I also took about 6 gigs worth of video and photos! On at least 4 occasions I was without any WiFi connection for at least a day. Without an SD card I probably could have managed but why would I want the extra hassle of worrying about lack of space.
    I know a few people on here will claim that 32gigs is ample! It's alright having full resolution back ups but what happens when you are on a night out or at your child's school play etc invariably these situations don't have WiFi the 8 or 9 gigs on your phone does not equate to much video time especially in today's resolutions.
    Most of us already have to live in battery life poverty whereby we have to plan ahead our battery usage depending on what we are doing why would anyone want to add storage space poverty into the mix!
  • 32 GB with no external storage for media is just a bad idea. Even if you don't move your apps and games to a micro SD card, most people want to store some form of media on their phones and aren't always surrounded by wifi and unlimited data. That's where micro SD memory storage fits in. If you are wise enough to back your media onto a cloud server or a home computer, you don't even have to worry about the card going bad and losing anything. Just as long as you didn't pay $200 for a 256GB micro SD card.
  • I remember when 32GB was huge back in 2009. 7 years later and it's still used in flagship phones lol.
  • but it shouldn't still be used in a flagship. How is 32GB going to be in 2 years considering the so called average life span of a phone (mine are longer). We all know files just get bigger as technology improves. I can remember running PCs with one 5.25 single density disk drive and I'm sure many couldn't see how they would need more. At least a desktop PC you can upgrade the hard drive to something bigger.
  • Never had more than 32GB on any phone. Never once have I been short on space. And I take a crap ton of pictures/videos of my kids.
  • You *think* you take a lot of pics and vids of your kids. :-) I, on the other hand, use my OTG cable with a thumb drive to take pics/vids off my phone every 5-6 months and I have a 64GB phone. LOL
  • Yeah I dunno about that, I got my 32gb s7 and within a month I was looking to delete apps to clear up space....immediately went to Amazon and picked up an external sdcard. Thank God for the sdcard....200gb!!!! :)
  • I really wouldn't trust it to remove things other than backed up photos. Just because I haven't been to the mall and got an Auntie Anne's pretzel in 30 days doesn't mean I don't need the app installed (and notification of a free pretzel for my birthday month!) I used a lot of apps but sometimes it may only be when I go to that store and need their loyalty app or when I'm doing a project. I don't want to have to figure out which wifi analyzer it was I liked and used when I need to use it suddenly. To each their own though.
  • Solid tips. Haven't had phones that have often filled up to capacity... storage saving tips are often something I search out asap!
  • Another commenter stated that 32Gb is the new 16Gb, and they are absolutely correct. I have a 32Gb S7edge that I really like, if the S8 is not offered with an option for at least 64Gb internal storage in the US, I will be moving to another phone, unfortunately, and yes, I realize it has SD card capability. I use the SD card, and that's fine, but it is not as good as native, internal memory storage. I'm very tempted by the regular size pixel with 128gb, but I'm held back by the battery life and level of water resistance(solved by the forthcoming Lifeproof case), as my main stopping points, other missing attributes, I could deal with. I'm very eager to see what the Pixel2 brings.
  • Its fine. "Not as good", you wouldn't even know the damn difference. I find people that say this BS hilarious. As if Transflash hasnt upgraded its standards in 15 years.
  • Whatever your problem is, have a super day useless, overly antagonistic troll. Oh, that's right, you're usually a hateful little a*s*s on here, for no reason. Ever considered getting a life? Lol. There will be no further responses, because you're useless. Have a really good day.
  • I want the Pixel XL so bad,I can taste it. Unfortunately money issues right now after buying a new car :(
  • 64 would have been a good option. But no. #stupidGoogle