How To Delete Old iPhone Backups and Software Updates


Have you ever noticed that your Mac is running out of hard-drive storage, but you have no idea what files or folders could be taking up all that space?

I've encountered that same problem and am certain that many of you have too. You check your Downloads folder, Documents folder, desktop, and empty the Rubbish Bin, of course, but your available disk space just won't free up. So what's the problem?

Well, I can tell you that either old: (1) iPhone or iPad backups; and (2) iPhone or iPad software updates will be the issue. Your average software update for iOS can be around 2-3GB these days, and actual backups of all the files on your mobile Apple device can run into the 100GB to 200GB+ range, so yeah, it's essential to keep on top of them.

How do you delete them, though? Well, that's precisely what I am going to walk you through in this article.

How To Delete Old iPhone and iPad Backups

About This Mac

First off, click the Apple icon in the top left of your screen and then press "About This Mac." Then, click on the Storage tab. You should see something like that below. You can hover over the red part of the bar see how much space is being taken up by "iOS Files."

You can see that I have 48.54GB of "iOS files." These are backups of my mobile Apple devices (a couple of older iPhone backups in this specific instance). Time to free up some space!

Manage Your Hard-Drive Space

Now that we've identified, there is some HDD space to free up by deleting old backups; it's time to do some cleaning! Click on "Manage," and you should then be presented with a screen similar to that below. There's a couple of different backup archives there and some other junk that we will get rid of too.

Delete The Backups

Now all you need to do is press "Delete..." in the bottom right of the screen and then confirm at the prompt. It's that easy!

How To Delete Old iOS Software Updates

Option 1: The Easy Method

There's one effortless way of deleting old iPhone or iPad software updates that may be taking up room on your Mac, and that is with CleanMyMacX. While this app does a heap of other things (like malware removal and performance improvements), it also gets rid of old iOS / iTunes "junk" that you would probably forget about. Click here to check out CleanMyMacX. You can download it for free.

The app itself is very intuitive - you just need to run a "Smart Scan," and it will find all those old iPhone updates that are sitting around taking up space, and allow you to delete them easily.

Option Two: Manual Deletion In Finder

Your Library

First off, open up the Finder app and navigate to your "Home" folder. It will be "one level up" from your "Downloads" folder, and you can get there by clicking on your login name in the bottom pane of the Finder window (the blurred out part in my image below). Then, click into the folder called "Library." You should see a screen similar to that shown here:

Your Library

Inside your "Library" folder, there will be an "iTunes" folder. Click into that and then you should see a screen like that below. The folder we are interested in is, of course, the one labeled "iPhone Software Updates." Click into that, and you should see some files that end in "Restore.ipsw."

Delete them and then empty the Bin, and you are done! If you don't have any such files in that folder, then relax, you don't have any old iPhone update files to delete.

Enjoy your newfound hard-drive space!

Mike Roberts

Hi, my name is Mike and I made this site to document all the helpful tips and tricks that I've discovered using various Apple Macs and other Apple products over the years, as well as to provide more general guides in relation to using the internet. I've been obsessed with Apple products ever since I could afford my first iPod, and am somewhat of a fanboy (you might have guessed). For me, the simply work without any fuss, issues or errors. I can rely on their products. The build quality is excellent and I even have several, several-year-old Macbooks in my wardrobe that are still humming along fine (just a bit slower). You can contact me personally using the form on this page.

4 Comments

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  1. Wow, thanks a lot for these great tips. CleanMyMac X is really nice software and it cleaned up loads of junk from my Mac. I’ve got plenty of free disk space again! I wish they would make it clear on the website what purchasing a license does, though. I don’t see any additional features to be unlocked. Any idea?

  2. I always thought Mac kept only a certain amount of backups to save space, similar to what Windows does actually. That doesn’t seem to be the case. With the help of this software, I just removed so many old files and backups. I definitely think Apple should build something like this into the operating system, it seems like a basic function.

  3. I still have an iPhone 7 so you can only imagine the amount of space the backups were taking up. I was actually surprised too. CleanMyMac has just freed up so much of my disk space, I believe it was around 70GB. That’s just crazy, Apple should be deleting old backups automatically.