If you’re running out of space on your iPhone or iPad and you’ve decided to see which apps are taking up the most space, you’ve probably noticed that WhatsApp is consistently at the top.
WhatsApp is popular, and everyone I know who uses it usually has between 10 and 15 group chats they participate in. With all these chats, they have tons of shared videos and images that take up a lot of space. Even if you turn off the option to save media to your camera album, WhatsApp can still easily take up several GB.
In this article, I will show you how you can reduce the amount of disk space used by WhatsApp, as well as save your chat history for future reference.
Find the biggest chats on WhatsApp
First, you should try to figure out which chats are taking up the most space on WhatsApp. When you look at the iCloud Storage & Usage screen, it only shows the total amount of space used by WhatsApp, which isn’t really that useful.
So, we know that the app takes up almost 3 GB of space, but what chats inside WhatsApp are not suitable for this? To figure it out, open WhatsApp, click on Settings in the bottom right corner, and then click on Data and Storage Usage.
Then click on the bottom “Storage Usage”.
Finally, you will get a list of chats (group or individual) that take up the most space on your phone.
As you can see, my family group chat consumes almost half a gigabyte of data. Like the next group chat right below it. Now that we know which chats are taking up the most space, we can start clearing them up.
Export and clear chats
The best way to reduce the size of your WhatsApp chats and still keep your chat history is to export and then clear. On WhatsApp, you have several options: clear the chat, delete the chat, or archive the chat.
Clearing a chat will remove all current chat history from that chat, but leave the empty chat still visible in the app’s Chats tab. Here’s an example of two cleared chats at the top of the Chats dialog box.
Please note that clearing a chat will delete all previous chat history, so you need to export the chat before clearing it if you want to keep your chat history. After clearing the chat, it will also disappear from the chat backup to iCloud. Any new messages in these chats will be saved to your phone and iCloud as usual.
You can clear or export a chat by swiping from right to left in the chat and then clicking the More icon.
A set of parameters will appear at the bottom of the screen. Here you can select “Export Chat” to first save your chat history to a third-party program such as Notes, Google Drive, OneNote, OneDrive, etc. This depends on which apps you have installed on your phone. Otherwise, you can save it to iCloud Drive.
Clearing chats will save space as quickly as possible. If you have a large group chat, I suggest clearing it every couple of months, which will save you a lot of space overall.
Note that archiving a chat simply hides it from view in the Chats tab. If you archive all your chats, it won’t reduce the amount of space used by WhatsApp, because the chats are simply hidden, not deleted.
If you delete the chat instead of clearing it, it will delete the entire message history, but in addition, it will remove the chat from the Chats tab. If you leave a group, it does not automatically delete the group or chat history. After leaving the group, you need to swipe the screen again, go to “More” and click “Delete group”.
Adjust chat settings
You can do all of this individually for each chat in the chats tab, or you can click “Settings” and then “Chats” to perform actions in all chats.
You can archive all chats, clear all chats, or delete all chats. I don’t recommend doing this unless you really care about saving any chat history. Clearing all chats is still a better option than deleting, because you can still view chats in the Chats tab.
You should also go a step further and disable the Save to Camera Roll option, as this can add a lot of space, especially if you’re in one of those groups where people are sharing photos and videos all the time. You don’t want all of this to clutter up your iCloud Photo Library.
Finally, if you click on Chat Backup, you can see exactly how much space is used in iCloud for your WhatsApp chat history. In my case, before I cleaned up large chats, my total size was over 1 GB, but now it is only about 64 MB.
Hopefully this helps you free up some space on your iPhone that you thought was impossible to delete. With the ability to export chats, there is no reason why WhatsApp should occupy more than a few hundred MB on your phone. Enjoy!