We get a lot of queries very often regarding the huge “Other” data stored on your iPhone or iPad. Users want to know what this “Other” data is and why it’s occupying so much space. And of course, how to get rid of it.

If you are message a lot and rely on texts and iMessage for a lot of your communication, there’s a  strong chance that part of the “Other” data is made up of message cache. It’s surprising how many MBs (and sometimes even GBs) are used up by the pictures, videos and other media you send via iMessage.

Unfortunately, when you backup – via iTunes, via iCloud etc. – all of these things get stored too. This means that a restore from backup is not really going to remove message cache from your iPhone/iPad.

How to Clear Message or iMessage Cache on iPhone & iPad

Fortunately, that’s where the popular backup-editing program, iBackupbot, comes in. With it, you can edit your iPhone’s backup to remove selectively all the Message cache and reclaim a lot of free space.

How to clear out all the iMessage cache to reclaim a lot of free space on your iPhone and iPad:

You’ll need:

  • iBackupbot (Download)
  • Your iPhone/iPad
  • PC/Mac running latest version of iTunes

Follow these steps:

  • Backup your iPhone or iPad through iTunes. (Connect your iDevice to the PC/Mac, under the devices in iTunes, right click on your device and click on Backup Now; alternatively, you can also use the Back Up option from the Summary tab)
  • Open iBackupbot
  • From the sidepane, navigate to System Files > Mediadomain > Library > SMS > Attachments
  • All the folders within Attachments are your Message cache containing all photos, video and media that you sent/received. Clear them out. At its best, delete all folders.
  • Click on “Restore” so your iPhone is now restored to this backup.

Obviously, it doesn’t end here. If you have an iCloud backup already, you might have to flush that too. Go to Settings → iCloud → Storage & Backup and clear out any backup that exists. You can create a new backup.

Hat tip to Moe1985 for sharing the method.

  • Ian Black

    For what its worth (I hope you find this useful):

    I own two 5s iphones. One is registered with a UK carrier and the other with US carrier (long story but I work in both the US and UK and for reasons I won’t go into here, its easier to have a US and UK number). Anyway… I treat both phones EXACTLY the same, i.e. same apps, same Apple ID etc. (I am obsessive about matching both phones) and the ONLY delta between the two phones is the difference between phone calls, pictures and photos.

    After the iOS 8.0 update this year which introduced Photos, I started to notice a significant delta in the size of the storage between the phones that eventually reached a delta of 8gbs of extra storage consumed by one of the phones as measured by “Photos & Camera” (i.e. the reading accessed via Settings > General > Usage>Manage Storage). Tired of using more space and not being able to add more Podcast content I decided to invest a three day holiday solving the problem.

    i did manage to save a few gigs but nothing I did reduced the delta I was measuring in “Photos & Camera” below 5gb. I deleted everything I could see that might be associated with “Photos & Camera” such as Videos, Camera etc, even going to other apps which might retain images and such as “Messages” and deleting all messages, re-starting the phone, etc. I bought third party s/w to examine the iPhones file structure and I did manage to find and remove 10% of the 5gb delta by discovering caches where out of date meta data seemed to be residing (I wont go into details here).

    At every stage I ran iTunes and the third party apps to measure the 5gb in “Photos & Camera” which even persisted to exist when I deleted and restored the phone using my most recent iTunes backup (in hindsight not surprising).

    Eventually I MANUALLY restored and re-installed all the apps (x102 of them!!) without using iTunes at all. It took me 2 days to reinstall and re-enter the login details for these apps before I then reinstalled the original content (Podcasts music etc). The results? Not only did I rid the phone of the lost 5gbs but AFTER I reinstalled all 102 apps and ALL the original podcasts, music etc, I retrieved an EXTRA 20gbs which I could use again!! It feels like having a new phone again with acres of space!

    Just to be clear… over 25gbs (approx) appeared to have been “lost” and unusable until I MANUALLY restored and re-installed all the apps without using iTunes Backup or Restore. In other words there was clearly much more than just the delta I could readily measure in “Photos & Camera” and in hindsight I now see was possibly stored within “Other” (visible in iTunes at the bottom of the screen when the phone is connected).

    In conclusion this reminds me of a typical problem from the 90’s when poor software development left caches of unused data all over the place on the device (desktops and laptops and servers in those days) and it seems that ONLY a complete MANUAL re-install of S/W and content is the way to get rid of the problem…..

    I should mention I have worked in S/W for the past 15 years and run the operations of various S/W companies. I know my way around I.T. and though not 100% versed in iPhone program development, this looks to me like a classic issue of poor S/W development not necessarily by Apple but by any S/W app on the phone or (latterly) in the cloud.


    • Jeremy

      So you work in the UK and in the US… Are you looking for an intern? because that sounds extremely fun…

      • Ian Black

        Only just seen your reply Jeremy. Sadly not! And if you think 54 trips across the Atlantic in 6 months is “fun”… actually you’d be right! (but it does take an unusual mindset)

  • leefur

    I dunno, worked like a charm for me. I got about 6GB back.

  • Kimberly

    Well, tis was a big waste of time. Did not work.

  • anon

    This was not helpful at all.

  • Helina

    Yes, we should clear iMessages cache often, becuase it is not only take up the iPhone space but also may let out our privacy!

    And what I used to clear my iPhone imssages cache is a free tool called Tenorshare Free iPhone Care special for iPhone junks, cookies clear. Easy to use and is able to clear all the junks!

  • Steven McDonald

    One word of warning..
    I did this technique and had a few problems with corrupt restores.
    It is important to realise that this bug was introduced in ios6 and a later update.
    There is no other way to fix this bar a full phone reset and setup from scratch.
    This method does work but please take the following precautions to ensure success.

    1/. First manually delete all imessages and messages on your phone. This wil not get back all the space but it ensures you have no messages and the success rate is much higher trust me!

    2/. Delete your old backup and now create a new one – if your backup was to a previous phone model – make sure you create a new backup on the new phone – I upgraded to the 5s and this did bite me!
    Go into iTunes preferences , backups – delete it and create a new one.

    3/. Now edit with ibackupbot.

    4/. Now erase all settings and data on your phone – settings – general. and restore from your itunes backup.

    5/. I had perfect success on my 5th attempt at doing this (corrupt backups , wrong phone model, error 21 etc. In short follow above steps and you will be ok).

    Good luck.