The Image Capture utility is a free application that comes bundled with Mac OS X. It’s used to move files from your iOS devices, digital cameras and scanners to your Mac. But for those of you running of space on your iPhone, you can also use Image Capture to quickly find, transfer and safely delete photos and movies that are taking up all your valuable space.

Relative file size of iPhone photo vs videoAs the story goes, when infamous criminal Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he answered, “because that’s where the money is.” So, if your goal is to free up storage space on your iPhone, you need to look for the really big space hogs. Your phone may have thousands of photos stored on it — and deleting them will certainly free up space — but movies use a LOT more space!

An iPhone photo is about two megabytes in size, whereas a 60 second video can easily weigh in at over 100 megabytes. So if your objective is to save space, you’ve got to find those space hogging videos! Here’s how using Image Capture.

Finding the big files

Image Capture applicationConnect the iPhone to your Mac and open Image Capture. You’ll see the phone’s name listed under Devices. Click on your iPhone’s name to display all the images and videos stored inside the phone.

Click the little lined icon at the bottom-left corder of the window to view the images by list instead of by icon.

Image Capture window


Make sure that the File Size column is showing. If it’s not, right-click on the column titles and select File Size from the pop up menu.

Image Capture - show file size column


Click on the File Size column heading, which sorts the list by image/video size. You’ve probably guessed it already: it’s a toggle setting. Clicking switched the sort order from large-to-small to small-to-large. Click to view the biggest files at the top of the list.

Image Capture sort by file size


Save and Delete Files

In this example, I’ve identified the first two videos as taking up lots of space (1) — a total of 500+ megabytes. That’s a hefty half-gigabyte. You’d have to delete about 250 digital photos to reclaim the same amount of space as removing just these two movies. As in the Mac’s Finder, Shift-click to select a range files, or Cmd-click to select non-contiguous files.

If you’d like to first save a copy of these two movies to your Mac, click the Import button (2).

Finally, to remove them from your iPhone, click the Delete button delete-icon (3).

Select and delete iPhone files using Image Capture


You’ll get a warning message since you cannot undo this action. So when you’re sure, click the Delete button. You’ve just reclaimed valuable space for new photos, movies, apps, and upgrades.
Confirmation of file deletion