The Files by Google "Clean" logo.

If your Android phone doesn’t have a lot of storage space, it can be a constant struggle to remove old junk and make room for new pictures, videos, and apps. Google’s Files app has a handy tool to make this process easy.

Files by Google is preinstalled on some Android phones, but anyone can download it from the Play Store. One handy feature that sets it apart from other file managers is its cleaning recommendations. It identifies things that can be removed from your phone to free up storage space.

To get started, download and install Files by Google on your Android phone or tablet.

The "Install" button in "Files by Google."

If this is your first time using Files by Google, you’ll be asked to agree to Google’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Tap “Continue” to proceed if you agree.

Tap "Continue" to agree to Google's terms and privacy policy.

To allow the Files app to access your files, tap “Allow” in the permissions popup.

Tap "Allow" to give Google access to your files.

With that out of the way, you can start freeing up storage space. Tap “Clean” at the bottom.

Tap "Clean."

At the top of the page, you’ll see how much storage space you’re using. Underneath, Google will automatically suggest files you can delete to free up storage space. Common examples are screenshots, duplicate files, and photos that are already backed up to Google Photos.

The Files by Google showing amount of space used on an Android phone.

Each of the following categories will have one of three possible buttons, and they perform slightly different actions:

  • “Confirm and Free Up (X) MB”: Where (X) is the amount of space. Tap this to open a popup and clean right away without reviewing the files first.
  • “Select and Free Up (X) MB”: Where (X) is the amount of space. Tap this to jump straight to the review screen, where you can select the files you want to remove.
  • “Free Up (X) MB”: Where (X) is the amount of space. This action is specifically for Google Photos. Google will suggest removing any photos on your device that have been backed up. Tap this to go to the Google Photos app, where you can choose to free up space.

Select which method you want to use to fee up space.

For our example, we tap “Select and Free Up (X) MB” from the category we want to clean up.

The "Select and Free Up (X) MB" option.

We see a list of files Google suggests removing. In the “Duplicate Files” category, original files are indicated by a bookmark icon in the bottom left corner.

A duplicate of an original file in "Files by Google."

We select all the files we want to remove, and then tap “Delete.”

Select the files you want to remove, and then tap "Delete."

If you select original files in the “Duplicate Files” category, you’ll be asked to confirm your choice; tap “Continue” to proceed.

Tap "Continue."

You’ll be asked once again to confirm your choices. Tap “Delete” to permanently remove the files.

Tap "Delete."

If you want to clean up a category quickly, tap “Confirm and Free Up (X) MB” (where “X” is the amount of space) to skip selecting each file individually.

Tap "Confirm and Free Up (X) MB."

Tap “Clean” to remove the files without reviewing them.

Tap "Clean."

To review files before removing them, tap “See Junk Files.”

Tap "See Junk Files."

Select all the items you want to remove (or tap “All Items” at the top of the screen), and then tap “Clean” when you’re done.

Tap "Clean."

A pop-up message will ask you to confirm your choice. Tap “Clear” to proceed.

Tap "Clear."

That’s it! You can repeat these same steps for any of the categories on the “Clean” tab. The app might periodically recommend freeing up space, as well.

A confirmation from Files by Google that 1 file was deleted.

Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.