Apple Music Optimize Storage Not Working? (Explained)

In short: Optimize Storage will only remove downloaded songs that you haven’t played in a while and when your device is low on storage space. Also, it won’t clear up cached files from your device, only downloaded music.

Optimize Storage is a helpful feature on iOS devices to prevent Apple Music from using too much storage. However, many people think Optimize Storage is not working.

The truth is, that many people misunderstood the concept of Optimize Storage, which led them to think that the feature is not working properly on their devices.

In this article, I’m going to demystify everything about the Apple Music Optimize Storage feature and show you why it seems like it is not working. Let’s get started.

You’ll need to enable Sync Library first

For some people, it’s not about the Optimize Storage feature not working on Apple Music but the setting is not even showing on their devices to begin with. 

You won’t see the “Optimize Storage” toggle on the Settings app if you don’t have an active Apple Music membership and you haven’t turned on the “Sync Library” toggle. 

First, make sure you have an Apple Music membership, then enable “Sync Library” under Settings > Music. Once done, you should be able to see the “Optimize Storage” option.

Once you’ve turned on the Optimize Storage toggle, you’ll be able to choose the minimum amount of storage you want to dedicate to storing downloaded music files for offline listening.

You’ve played the songs recently and your device has enough storage

If you feel like Optimize Storage is not working on Apple Music, it could be because you’ve played some of your downloaded songs recently, and your device isn’t low on storage space.

Apple has an official support page regarding this subject. On that page, you’ll see information about managing storage space on your device. Here’s what it says about Optimize Storage:

Free up music storage: If iPhone is low on storage space, you can automatically remove downloaded music that you haven’t played in a while.

Based on the statement from Apple, the app will ONLY remove downloaded music if that music hasn’t been played in a while AND your iPhone is running low on storage.

These two factors may have different calculations compared to what you expect. If you haven’t received a low storage alert, the system may not feel the need to remove the media.

The other component in question would be how much time has passed since you last played a particular song. If you’ve played those songs recently, Apple won’t remove those downloads.

During the time when you think Optimize Storage is not working on Apple Music, it is possible that one of the two requirements aborted the process.

I think it’s designed to be smart, so the tracks you’ve downloaded this week aren’t going to be deleted first and the tracks you’ve listened to hundreds of times are also not likely to be deleted.

Your iPhone or iPad will only remove downloads if it needs the storage space, but it will remove tracks you haven’t listened to in a while first (according to the rules that have been set).

Read also: Apple Music “Remove Downloads” vs. “Delete from Library”

You misunderstood the concept of MINIMUM STORAGE

Remember what I said earlier about minimum storage? Many people misunderstood this concept, causing them to think Optimize Storage is not working on Apple Music.

Optimize Storage means selecting a minimum amount of storage your music can take up and allowing your device to remove the downloads of all that extra music you rarely listen to.

If you click through to the Optimize Storage settings page, you will see at the bottom of the page that what this does is set a minimum amount of music kept on your phone.

Selecting 8 GB, 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB as the minimum storage is not the minimum allowed before deletion, but it’s the minimum that is kept when the deletion starts.

If you were to select 64 GB, for example, approximately 12,800 songs will remain on your phone before the app starts removing music that hasn’t been played in a while (if low on space).

So basically, if you’re taking pictures and filling up your storage, your iPhone will begin removing songs from your downloads. However, it will always keep at least 64 GB on your phone.

The lower the minimum storage you choose, the more usable storage space you will have. You can use the extra storage space for apps, photos, and other things.

But remember, your iPhone won’t delete music until it actually needs the storage space. That’s a minimum number, so even if you download more but the space isn’t needed it’ll stay there.

If you’d rather iOS use whatever amount of storage space is available for keeping other things aside from offline songs from Apple Music, you should choose None instead.

Optimize Storage only removes downloaded songs

Lastly, many people think that enabling Optimize Storage will allow their devices to automatically clear up storage space from whatever is being used by Apple Music. This is not the case.

The Optimize Storage feature will only remove downloaded music from your device. It won’t clear up system files and cached files from streamed music on your device.

If you’ve only been streaming songs and not downloading them from Apple Music, the cached files won’t be deleted since it wasn’t officially downloaded on your device.

So, if you need to clear up storage space, you should learn how to clear the cache from Apple Music. This article will show you how to do it on iOS, Mac, and Android.

I ended up deleting Apple Music and re-downloading everything again, which was no big deal, but I am still annoyed that this feature exists but doesn’t automatically clear cached files.

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