How to clean up Windows 10 storage space like a Pro, with the Storage Sense
The Storage Sense from Windows 10 is a great tool for keeping tabs on the amount of data stored on your drives, as well as for cleaning the storage devices that are connected to your PC or device. If you filled your hard drive with lots of data, or if you have a Windows 10 device like a tablet or a 2-in-1 with a small storage capacity, the automatic cleaning of your drives might not be enough. Which means that you might want to use the manual cleaning options that the Storage Sense offers. Read on and you will learn how to clean up your drives and regain free space manually:
NOTE: This guide applies to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which will be available to all Windows 10 users, starting September 2017. Previous versions of Windows 10 offer some of the features that we are going to talk about in this guide, but not all. If you are interested in cleaning storage spaces automatically, we recommend that you read this tutorial instead: How to automatically free up space on your Windows 10 PC, with Storage Sense.
How to get to the Storage Sense options from Windows 10
To get to the Storage Sense options, you have to open the Settings app. Click or tap on the gear icon from the Start Menu, or follow any method described here: 9 ways to open the Settings app in Windows 10.
In the Settings app, open the System category and then select Storage on the left side of the window. On the right side of the window, you should find a section called Storage Sense, which is exactly what we were looking for.
How to manually clean up space with Storage Sense
In the Storage sense section, there is a switch which you can use to turn it on or off. If you want to free up space automatically, you should enable it. For more information about how the automatic cleaning works, read this guide: How to automatically free up space on your Windows 10 PC, with Storage Sense.
For this guide's purpose, click or tap on the "Change how we free up space" link from under the Storage sense switch.
In the "Change how we free up space" window, you can set how Storage sense cleans your drives automatically. In the Temporary Files section, you can choose to "Delete temporary files that my apps aren't using", "Delete files that have been in the recycle bin for over 30 days", and "Delete files in the Downloads folder that haven't changed in 30 days." Normally, these settings are used by Storage sense for doing automatic cleanups of your drives. However, toward the bottom of the window, there's also an option called "Free up space now". It allows you to clean up storage manually, using the same settings you use for the automatic cleaning.
To clean storage space manually, select the types of temporary files that you want to remove, and then click/tap on the Clean now button.
Once you click/tap the Clean now button, your Windows 10 PC starts removing temporary files. As long as it does that, you can see a message like the one in the screenshot below: "Cleaning up files. This may take a few minutes".
When the process is finished, Windows 10 tells you how much space it managed to recover.
And that's not all! There's more:
How to delete previous versions of Windows
Additionally, if you recently upgraded to a new version of Windows, or you installed a major Windows 10 update, you can also check an option called "Delete previous versions of Windows." If you choose to enable this setting too, any older version of Windows found on your device is getting deleted right now.
If you do not need to go back to your older version, this option frees up a lot of space on your computer or device. If you do not select this option, Windows 10 deletes old Windows versions automatically anyway, but only after ten days.
How to manually clean up space on individual drives
Windows 10 also lets you check how the storage space on your PC is split between various types of files. For instance, you can see how your storage space is used by apps and games, how much is used by the operating system, and so on. But, what's more important, is the fact that you can also see how much space is occupied by temporary files on each drive, and clean each type of temporary file manually, whenever you want.
To get access to all the information and options, in the Settings app, go back to the Storage section from the System category. There, on the right side of the window, you can see all the drives connected to your computer or device. Each of them also shows their size, used space and free space available on them. Click or tap on the one that you want to clean or see more information about.
When you click/tap on a drive, Windows 10 opens a window called Storage usage. Here, the data on that drive is categorized and split between these categories: Apps & games, Temporary files, System & reserved, Videos, Other, OneDrive, Desktop, Documents, Maps, Mail, Pictures, Music, and Other people.
If you open these categories of data, each will offer you different information. For instance, if you open the Apps & games category, you are taken to the section with the same name from the Settings, where you can uninstall desktop programs and apps from your PC. But, if you open a category like Videos, all you get is information about their size and a button that opens the user Videos folder, using File Explorer. All these can be useful to free up space on your computer manually, by uninstalling apps that you no longer need or delete files that you no longer want. However, most people don't want to delete pictures, videos, documents, or uninstall games for instance. Most people prefer deleting temporary files which are not meant to be kept too long anyway. So, click or tap on the Temporary files category.
The Temporary files window lets you see how much space is occupied by temporary files found on your Windows 10 PC, and it also lets you delete those files if you want to get rid of them. Here's how this window looks:
You can check each type of temporary files that you want to be removed. For each of the temporary files categories, Windows 10 also share information describing them:
- Temporary files: "Apps can store temporary information in specific folders. These can be cleaned up manually if the app does not do it automatically."
- Downloads folder: "This folder contains files downloaded from the internet."
- Empty recycle bin: "The recycle bin contains files you have deleted from your computer. They will be permanently removed when the recycle bin is emptied."
- Previous version of Windows: These give you the option to go back to your previous version of Windows. Eventually, they'll be deleted automatically. To free up space, you can delete them now.
Select the types of temporary files that you want to remove and then click or tap on the Remove files button beneath them.
Finally, in the Temporary files category, Windows 10 also shows you the storage space occupied by the operating system Updates.
Under the size of the updates, there is a link called "View update settings." Clicking or tapping on it takes you to the Windows Update section of the Settings app. There, you can click or tap on the "View installed update history" link, then on "Uninstall updates," and then the old Control Panel opens and takes you to Installed Updates. That's the place where you can remove already installed operating system updates on your computer or device. It is a long road to do that, but it works nonetheless.
Now you know pretty much everything there is to know about how to manually clean up storage space with the Storage Sense feature from Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. You know how to delete temporary files manually and you also know how to get rid of old Windows versions. Do you like the way these tools work? Would you add anything to them? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.