Is Your iPhone Acting Weird?

Is your iPhone acting sluggish? Do apps begin to open and then suddenly you’re back on the home screen? Having trouble sending or receiving email?

If you’re seeing several different problems, don’t suspect viruses or malware. It’s more likely that you are running out of storage space on your phone.

But before you check that—

Restart the iPhone

First, turn the phone entirely off (press and hold the Home button until you see the slider) and then back on again. Most of us run our phones for weeks without restarting, but simply restarting the phone clears some settings and resets things. If this simple fix stops the “weird” behavior of your iPhone, then there’s no need to worry about what caused the problem.

Is Your iPhone Full?

If the problem returns, then check to see how full your phone’s storage is. Completely (or even nearly) full storage can cause different and changing problems, from slowness to crashes. To check your storage in iOS 9, open the Settings app and select Storage & iCloud Usage and look under the STORAGE heading. You should see Used and Available. Aim to keep Available storage to about 2 GB.

To see what apps are using your phone’s storage, tap “Manage Storage” under the STORAGE heading, and your iPhone will generate a list of apps and their use of data storage, starting with the largest at the top of the list. Tap on an app to get more information about the app and to delete it and its data (except for Apple’s core apps, like Photos, which cannot be deleted).

Too Many Photos and Videos: iCloud Photo Library

The most likely culprit of a full iPhone is Photos & Camera, and that will require a different fix. The easiest thing to do is to start using iCloud Photo Library to manage your photos. Apple has created this service to automatically upload all of your photos to iCloud and to intelligently manage what photos stay on your device so they don’t take up too much space. If you have iCloud Photo Library turned on for this device, then Photos & Camera shouldn’t be the source of your lack of space (unless you’ve been taking a lot of photos without access to wifi).

But before turning iCloud Photo Library on, make sure you understand it and are prepared to buy additional iCloud storage space if you need it. A good place to start is Apple’s iCloud Photo Library support page:

Too Many Photos and Videos: Delete ‘Em

If you don’t want to use iCloud Photo Library, you can manually remove photos and videos from your device. There is no quick way to delete all your photos at once, but you can select entire “Moments” to delete each as a group. A faster way to delete images is to connect your iPhone to your Mac and use the built-in utility called Image Capture to select and delete the photos.

Here’s an older article that includes how to do this on Windows:

Delete All Photos from iPhone At Once

Photos and Videos Hiding on Your iPhone

You may also find that Messages is taking a lot of storage space because of the photos and videos you’ve received. In Messages, you can delete entire conversations or you can delete individual photos and videos. (Tip: if you want to save a particular image or video, tap and hold it (or Force-Press if you have an iPhone 6 or later) and select “Save” on the pop-up menu).

Also, any app that can take photos (scanning apps, for example) can take up a lot of storage. Either delete the entire app and all its data, or ope the app and delete individual photos and videos.

Still Running Out of Storage?

Of course, it is possible that something has gone wrong with your phone’s software and something else is filling up your storage. If you can’t figure out what’s eating the storage, it’s time for a trip to the Genius Bar. Or contact me.

Note: Specific instructions (menus, navigation) in this article refer to iOS 9 and may not be valid in other versions.

Error Message: iPhone Doesn’t Accept the Apple ID Password

There are many reasons why your iOS device will reject a password, from typing mistakes to problems with Apple. How do you quickly fix it?

If your iPhone or iPad keeps asking for the password but you've used it successfully before on this device, then there's one answer: “turning it off and on again.”

Specifically, logging out of your account and then logging in again. How you log out depends on what you have been trying to do.

App Store Login Problems

If you were trying to purchase an app (or download a free one), then log out of the App Store (tap your Apple ID in Settings > iTunes and App Store).

iTunes Login Problems

If you were trying to purchase music or a movie, then log out of iTunes (tap your Apple ID in Settings > iTunes and App Store).

iCloud Data Login Problems

If it seems like Apple was asking for a password that might be related to iCloud data (photos, calendars, iCloud Drive), then instead try shutting down your iPhone (press and hold the sleep/wake button until you see the slider). Then restart the phone.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, do not log out of your iCloud account. Doing so will force you to decide whether or not to keep all the iCloud data on your phone, and both answers may create problems. If you choose to delete the data from your phone you can always download it from iCloud again (after all, an iPhone without data isn't too useful), but it can take a while to put all that data back on your phone.

And if you choose to keep the data on your phone when you log out of iCloud, you could be setting yourself up for sync problems later.

In short, don't log out of iCloud when you're looking for a quick fix.

Don't Ask Why It Works

Did that fix the problem? Great! Move on and don’t ask why. Occasional login problems are nothing to worry about.

Error Message: iCloud Storage Is Full

The more you use your phone, the more you fill your iCloud Storage with photos, backups, and other data. And since Apple currently offers a paltry 5 GB of iCloud Storage free with each account, it’s easy to fill that up.

You have two choices: reduce the amount of data you put into iCloud Storage or buy more space from Apple.

Buy More iCloud Storage

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend you purchase more space. Currently in the United States, $0.99 per month will upgrade your storage to 50 GB. If you need even more space, Apple offers two larger iCloud Storage upgrades.

If you purchased extra storage space before September 16, 2015, you may have a yearly plan that gives you less than 50 GB but more than the free 5 GB. These are no longer offered by Apple, so if you switch to a cheaper monthly plan, you will not be able to return to a yearly plan. For most people, switching will get you more storage for less money.

It’s easy to buy more iCloud storage (adding or changing plans). You can purchase iCloud Storage plans on your iOS device in the Settings app (see Settings > iCloud > Storage) or on your Mac from the iCloud pane in System Preferences. Apple’s instructions for purchasing more iCloud storage also explain how to do this on older iOS versions and Windows.

Reduce Your Data

If instead you decide to reduce the amount of data you put into iCloud Storage, Apple explains how to see what's eating your space and how to make more space. Videos and photos are likely culprits, but backups of discarded devices are worth looking for, too.

References: Apple Support Articles

iCloud storage plans and pricing

iCloud storage upgrades and downgrades

Manage your iCloud storage