Most of us can agree that 2020 was not a great year. The world was ravaged, and our lives were forever changed by a global pandemic; Australia saw one of its most devastating wildfire seasons, and Android users lost the system Files app with the release of Android 11. While the first two were serious and life-altering events — and the latter not so much — it remains a fact that the old Files app was beloved by the Android user community, and its demise was not taken lightly.
The consensus was that the old Files app had been replaced by the Files by Google app (formerly “Files Go“), which does not exactly replace the exact functionality the old Files app had in terms of neatly displaying your file folders and moving files between your device and other file storage services. However, the app does have a trick or two up its sleeve when it comes to helping you optimize the storage your phone has, offering cleaning suggestions that can make the difference between not being able to download an app because you ran out of space or breezing through a vacation taking pictures and videos uninterrupted.
Anatomy of the Files by Google app
When you open the “Files by Google” app, you are initially presented with the “Browse” tab, which is essentially the section of this app that aims to replace the old Files. Here you can find what is locally saved on your phone, categorized by file type and/or location — nothing really new to see here.
Where the app shines, is in the less-often used and sometimes unappreciated “Clean” tab. Here you get a quick summary of how much storage you have used on your phone and cleaning suggestions that are separated into useful categories: such as old screenshots you may be holding on to, memes you downloaded but then forgotten about, blurry photos, and even photos that you have already uploaded to your Google Photos account and have no need to keep locally on your phone.
How to reclaim your phone space using these suggestions
To use these recommendations to reclaim some of your phone space back, just tap into any one of the cleaning suggestions you are given, and give the photos and files in there a second look to make sure they are supposed to be in there. If you are happy with all the results and want to go ahead and take care of them, you can select the “All items” option on the top right. If you only want to purge specific results, select them individually by tapping on each one.
Once you have selected the photos and files that are not needed, go ahead and tap on the “Move xx files to Trash” button found all the way at the bottom. Once you tap this, you should get a nice little animation showing the progress, followed by a confirmation that the files have been moved to the trash.
I just want the steps!
1. Open the Files by Google app and switch to the “Clean” tab.
2. You will be given a list of cleaning suggestions, from this list choose the one you want to start with.
3. Review the photos and files included within this category and select the ones you want to proceed with, or choose “All items”.
4. Tap on “Move xx files to Trash“.
That is it! You have effectively reclaimed the space that was previously occupied by these files. You will need to repeat this process for all the suggestion categories you want until you are satisfied with your progress and the storage space you have gained back. Be warned that this can get a little addictive as you will now want to delete anything and everything that is unnecessarily taking up space – trust me, I know. Other than that, this one feature makes the Files by Google app a worthy addition and a very valuable tool to have.