Autism Awareness Month in April was especially problematic for my iPad space management — the number of free and reduced-price apps was amazing! The space on my 16 GB iPad (OK, two 16 GB iPads) quickly filled up as I downloaded so many helpful apps.
As an app addict, I have found ways to manage my collection, but I know that many people with a smaller-memory iPad avoid downloading quality apps for fear of running out of room. So here are my top 10 tips for managing a small-memory iPad.
UPDATED! I've added tips to understand and manage iCloud memory, too!
Updated June 27, 2014: One of the most common questions I get about iPad memory is how iCloud memory relates to the device memory. For most users: it doesn't! Running out of iCloud space does not impact the ability to add more apps to the iPad. And buying more iCloud storage space does not allow you to add more apps to your iPad with a full memory. (Let me repeat that: DO NOT BUY more iCloud space thinking it impacts the number of apps you can add to your iPad!)
Using iCloud is a great way to back up the data in apps and on the iPad. When activated, the iPad will sync automatically with your iCloud device, saving the pictures from that last soccer game or the note from that important meeting. Apple provides 5.0 GB of space for free, but it fills up quickly when an iPad is loaded with pictures, email and apps that collect data.
Here are a few tips to understand and manage iCloud memory, followed by our original iPad memory tips.
1. Use a different iCloud account for each device: Multiple devices on the same iCloud account will cut your iCloud space in half. I have an iPhone as well as two iPads, and when they are all backing up on the same iCloud account, the space fills up almost immediately. Create a new iCloud account for each device to maximize space.
2. Be selective in what is backed up: Not every app on the device needs to back up on iCloud. To check what is currently using iCloud, go to Settings-->iCloud-->Storage & Backup-->Manage Storage. Then tap the device backup (mine is called "Heather's iPhone"). Check for apps where the data is not important to you. It might be vitally important for you to back up Angry Birds games and Pages documents. But I go through the apps frequently, and turn off apps that aren't so important. One note--it will prompt to "Turn Off & Delete," which does frighten some users. Don't worry, the app itself is not being deleted, just the backup data from iCloud.
3. Don't back up photos: I know, this seems crazy. But if you frequently back up your iPad photos on the computer, there is no need to also back them up on iCloud. The camera roll is often the biggest space hog (as I was writing this, my camera roll was at 6.1 GB--well over the 5.0 GB limit all on its own), so to maximize space, connect your device to the computer (either through your wireless network, through Bluetooth, or with the cord) frequently and save the iCloud space for data that is harder to back up in other ways.
4. Keep documents and photo apps clean: Don't let photos and documents collect. Instead of saving every document ever created, go through Pages (or other apps) frequently to delete files no longer needed. Do the same in any app that take data. While it's convenient to save data in my speech pathology apps, it's also not too difficult to frequently send data reports (even after every session) to my email, so I don't have to worry about losing data.
5. Use your computer: Unless you live your life totally mobile, or go long stretches between your ability to connect to a computer, it's also OK to turn off iCloud entirely and simply create a habit to back up your device on a very regular basis by connecting to the computer and iTunes.
TOP TEN TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR IPAD MEMORY
1. Turn off Automatic Downloads: For those with unlimited space, automatic downloads are a great feature. Find an app on the computer when catching up on the Smart Apps for Kids site, download it, and it will automatically be added to the iPad (provided it is signed into the same account). However, for those with limited memory, this can lead to constant error messages for lack of space. Turning it off is easy: in the iPad’s Settings, scroll down on the left-hand side, tap iTunes & App Stores, and then tap the buttons next to Music, Apps, and Books to change them to “off.”
2. Delete unused apps: I frequently delete apps from my iPad if they haven’t been used in a few weeks. This does not delete them from the account entirely — thanks to Apple’s iCloud, apps are always available to be loaded back onto the iPad whenever I want. In the iPad’s General Settings, the Usage tab shows all installed apps and the amount of memory they use. I browse through the list, easily deleting any unused apps.
3. Monitor the space hog apps: When I am running low on space, I delete the bigger apps to more quickly gain GB. In addition, sometimes apps take up a lot of storage because the app itself stores data. Take, for example, my current biggest storage user, Audiobooks. This is a great app for free classic audiobooks, and my son listens to it every night. However, just by deleting the downloaded books except for his current book (Black Beauty), I cut the size down to 228 MB, giving me room to download new apps. The books can be reloaded at any time, but unless we’re traveling, I don’t need all of them to be ready and waiting. Cutting a few additional apps allowed me to get my available space up to 3.1 GB.
4. Browse for new apps on the computer, rather than on the iPad: This is not always convenient, but when you have a choice, download new apps via the computer, not the iPad. This gets the apps into your iTunes account, and available for use, without having to first download them onto the iPad. My dream update for the iPhone/iPad is an option to add an app to the account without immediately installing it to the iPad. Until that is possible, I try to use the computer as much as I can.
5. Evaluate, then delete: This takes a lot of discipline for me, but it pays off. If I am on my iPad when I find a new app, after it downloads I look at it immediately and then delete it (knowing, of course, that it will remain available in my iTunes account). This allows me to understand how I might be able to use the app in the future, and ups the odds that I will remember it when necessary, but keeps my iPad free of an app I don’t need immediately.
6. Make a spreadsheet: This is not something I currently have set up, but I wish I were this organized. For those who have organization in the blood, try making a spreadsheet with a few simple columns: name of app, category (game, utility, reading, math, whatever), a personal rating scale, and any other information that may be useful later. A quick column sort will allow easy access to all apps in a particular category, and provides better organization than iTunes alone. This maybe should have been my New Year’s resolution.
7. Divide and conquer: I know most people don’t have two available iPads (like I do), but many people do have an iPhone and an iPad. If either situation is true for you, designate each device for a particular purpose. My “blue iPad” (named for its case color) is for those apps that are useful to me in my work as a speech language pathologist. Coincidentally, my kids enjoy many of the same apps. My “pink iPad” is my personal iPad, and has all of the apps I use for myself. I do end up with a fair number of therapy and kid-related apps on this one, but they aren’t guaranteed a permanent home. Facebook, Kindle, and HGTV, however, are never deleted.
8. Purge media: After using the camera or video camera, transfer the files off the iPad. This can be done by manually connecting the iPad to the computer and transferring the photos/videos. Or set up the iCloud Photo Stream on a computer — when the photos are transferred to the computer, be sure to transfer them to another folder before deleting from the iPad. Videos can be uploaded directly to YouTube, or transferred to a computer when syncing or by connecting to the same wireless network and using Home Sharing.
9. Use music apps instead of iTunes: Though it’s great to be able to access an entire playlist on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod, the songs take up a lot of room! It would be really easy to fill up the iPad’s whole memory with music. Instead of downloading all available music to the iPad, use an app like Pandora or TuneIn Radio, or turn on Home Sharing and stream the music from iTunes on a computer. It does limit music access in places with no wi-fi or 3G connection, but it frees up a lot of iPad space for apps.
10. Make a plan: This is especially true for teachers and therapists. It’s nice to have many apps quickly accessible, but it’s hard to do on a small-memory iPad. Making a lesson plan and browsing for appropriate apps in advance allows me to effectively rotate apps based on current needs.
If you have a small-memory iPad and have another tip for successfully managing the space, please share! Unlike my iPad, this list can easily grow.