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How to use the Android 7.1 storage manager to free up space

Android 7.1 Nougat features a couple of new storage cleanup tools, including an automated option called Smart Storage and a manual storage manager.

Published onOctober 20, 2016

The Android 7.1 update has arrived in developer preview form for anyone with a Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X or Pixel C and the desire to try it out. Among the pretty short list of new Android 7.1 Nougat features is a new tool in the settings called Manage Storage which is worth mentioning.

Here’s what you can do so far with Android 7.1’s app shortcuts
Google app shortcuts shown on a smartphone.

Manage Storage is, as you might suspect, a storage manager. It appears in the Storage section of Settings and provides you with two options: to manually free up space or to enable Smart Storage. While one might simply sound like an automatic version of the other, they actually do different things and work well in concert with one another.

Smart Storage

Smart Storage is essentially a Google Photos tie-in that automates the “free up space” option in that app. Enabling Smart Storage will automatically remove photos and videos from your device every 30, 60 or 90 days, but only once they have been backed up to the cloud in Google Photos.

It’s a simple option that saves you having to continually agree to the Photos prompt to free up space whenever your device storage is running low. But Smart Storage doesn’t automate all of your Android 7.1 storage solutions. There’s also a manual tool for clearing up space that works well as a complement to Smart Storage.

Android 7.1 Nougat free up space options

Manual cleanup

You’ll find the manual cleanup tool in Settings > Storage > Manage storage as well as in the overflow menu of the Storage section. Tapping “Free up space” generates a list of potential items for removal in a couple of categories, including photos and videos, downloads and apps.

You can choose to include or exclude any of these categories via the check boxes and expand them to drill down into your downloads or apps list. Simply select those files or apps you want removed and tap the free up space button. Once you’ve removed some content you’ll be prompted to enable Smart Storage which you can opt-in for if you haven’t already.

This storage optimization tool is just another of the many small additions in Nougat that really start to add up. There’s clearly a focus on automating tasks in Nougat, from seamless updates to setting notification priority to Doze Mode on the go. Storage management is just another way to improve your experience while still providing you with fine-grained control.

What is your favorite Nougat feature? What is Nougat still missing?

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