Exclamation Point on Photos; How to Fix Low Disk Space on iPhone

Recently, when I was looking at a photo on my iPhone, I noticed an exclamation mark on the photo. Also, I noticed that the photo quality seemed much lower than usual. I tapped on the exclamation mark and saw the “Low Disk Space” message.

Low Disk Space warning

The warning message tells you that you can’t download a higher-quality version of the photo. It seems that in order to view my photos normally, I will need to free up some storage.

This warning also lets me know that I have very little storage space left on my iPhone for other things as well; I probably need to free up some space, or else I may run into further problems.

How to get rid of the exclamation mark

Why you are seeing lower-quality photos

The reason you see the exclamation mark on your photos and lower-quality photos is that not only do you have little space left on your iPhone, but you are also using iCloud to store the higher-quality versions while only the lower-quality photos are left on your phone. You’ll be able to get those higher-quality versions back on your device when you free up space on your iPhone.

How to free up storage space on your iPhone

There are many ways to free up space on your device. The good thing is that you won’t need to permanently get rid of anything; fortunately, Apple makes it easy to offload things you don’t need right now but may want to have back in the future.

To manage your iPhone storage:

  1. Open Settings, then tap on General.
  2. Tap on iPhone Storage.
iPhone storage in settings
  • The chart at the top will show you your total storage usage, broken down by category.
  • Below the chart, you will see recommendations like “Offload Unused Apps” or “Review TV Downloads.”
  • Below the Recommendations section, you will see your apps listed and how much storage each is using. They are listed in descending order so that you can focus on apps that are using the most storage.

You can use the recommendations or go through the apps list and choose which you would like to remove.

Follow the recommendations

The simplest way to free up space can be to follow the recommendations:

  • If you choose to enable “Offload Unused Apps,” your app data will be saved. Your apps will be available to download again anytime from the App Store. Tap Enable to let iOS remove apps you haven’t used in a while.
  • If you have recommendations such as “Review TV Downloads,” you will also be able to get these again anytime. Just tap on Review TV Downloads, then tap Edit. Tap the minus sign next to shows you are willing to remove from your device.

Remove apps

You may see apps in the list that are using a significant amount of your device storage. You can browse the apps list and remove ones that aren’t important to you. This gives you control over exactly which apps are removed from your device. To remove an app from your device, you will have the option to Offload or Delete the app.

  1. Tap on an app in the list.
offload or delete an app
  1. If you want to preserve your app data, tap on Offload App. If you don’t care about that app’s data, tap on Delete App. Tap again to confirm.

Remove app data, like episodes or songs

An app that is using a lot of storage on your device may have data that you can remove from your device. This can be songs, shows, movies, etc. When you tap on that app in the list, you will see these listed. For example, Podcasts will have podcasts, and Music will have Artists, Albums and Songs. To remove these:

  1. Tap on the app in the list.
remove podcasts
  1. Exactly what you will see depends on the app.
    • For example, if you want to delete some podcasts from the Podcasts app, tap Edit. Then tap the minus sign next to each podcast you want to remove. Then tap Done.
    • If you want to remove songs from the Music app, for example, you can:
      • Remove Artists: Tap on Edit, then the minus sign next to the artists you want to remove, then tap on Done.
      • Remove Albums: Tap on an artist, then tap Edit and tap the minus sign next to each album you want to remove by that artist, then tap on Done.
      • Remove Songs: Tap on an artist, then tap on an album, then tap Edit. Tap the minus sign next to each song you want to remove, then tap Done.

For more tips on how to free up iPhone storage, see:

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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