One of the many advantages of Google Photos is the option to delete all backed-up photos and videos from the local storage so you can save up space for new recordings and pics. All with a single tap. The feature is called Free Up Space and it can be found under the contextual menu when you tap Account. However, some users report that the Free Up Space is not working on Google Photos for some reason.
Some of them say that the option is grayed out although they are sure that some backed-up files can be deleted. If you are among those users, check the solutions we provided below.
Table of contents:
- Clear local data from Google Photos
- Uninstall updates from Google Photos
- Check SD card permission
- Check Backup folders
- Delete unsupported videos
Why can’t I free up space on Google Photos?
If the Free Up Space option is grayed out or Google Photos won’t delete photos and videos you already backed up, reset the app by clearing local data. You can also uninstall updates from Google Photos and check permissions.
1. Clear local data from Google Photos
The first thing you should do is clear the local data from Google Photos. Like any other Android app, Google Photos can run to a halt because of local data corruption. The best way to deal with it is to simply clear all data and try the Free Up Space option again. In addition, open Permissions and ensure that Google Photos can access full storage.
Here’s how to clear data from Google Photos:
- Open Settings.
- Open Apps.
- Expand the list of all apps.
- Open Google Photos.
- Select Storage.
- Tap Manage storage.
- Delete all app data.
- Get back to the App Info screen and open Permissions.
- Grant all permissions to Google Photos.
- Restart your device and open Google Photos.
- Choose initial settings and wait until the library syncs. After that, try using the Free Up Space feature again.
if the Free Up Space is still not working in Google Photos, try the next step.
2. Uninstall updates from Google Photos
If the previous solution didn’t work, try resetting the app by uninstalling updates from it. Google Photos comes as a built-in gallery app on some devices so you can’t reinstall it from Play Store. If you can, you might as well navigate to the Play Store, remove Google Photos and install the app again.
Here’s how to uninstall updates from Google Photos:
- Navigate to Settings > Apps > Google Photos again. Tap on the 3-dots menu and select Uninstall updates.
- If you don’t see the option, it means that Google Photos is treated as a third-party app on your device. Open the Play Store, look for Google Photos, and tap Uninstall.
- Restart your device, reinstall Google Photos, and then open the app and go through the initial setup.
3. Check SD card permission
If you use an SD card to store camera photos and videos, Google Photos will need special permission to access the SD card and back up or delete files from it. There’s a slight chance that the permission was revoked in the meanwhile so you’ll need to grant it again.
Here’s how to permit Google Photos to access photos and videos on an SD card:
- Open Google Photos.
- Tap on the Account picture at the top and open Photos settings.
- Tap SD Card access.
- Follow the instructions that will lead you to the system file manager and select SD card as a media folder. After that, Google Photos should be able to read and upload media files from the SD card.
4. Check Backup folders
The next thing you should do is ensure that the photos are backed up in the first place. Google Photos’ Free Up Space feature might not be working because photos or videos are not stored in the cloud. You can check which folders are backed up in the Library tab or Photos Settings.
Here’s how to check Backup folders in Google Photos:
- Open Google Photos > Account photo > Photos settings.
- Tap Back up & sync.
- Select Back up device folders.
- Make sure that all folders you want to back up to Google Photos (internal storage and SD card) are toggled on.
If all your photos and videos are in the cloud but Free Up Space is still not working in Google Photos, make sure to check the last step.
5. Delete unsupported videos
Finally, some users report that the problem was gone once they removed some video files that aren’t supported by Google Photos. Video formats that you can upload and access on Google Photos are .mpg, .mod, .mmv, .tod, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .divx, .mov, .m4v, .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .m2t, .m2ts, .mts, .mkv. Other file formats can be uploaded but can’t be accessed and thus can cause issues with the Free Up Space feature in Google Photos.
After deleting files, try using the Free Up Space again and see if the issue persists. You can also report the problem to Google.
And, on that note, we can conclude this article. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to share your questions, suggestions, or alternative solutions in the comments section below. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more instructional articles.
Editor’s note: This article was initially published in December 2021. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.