How to free up iPhone storage by clearing Safari’s Offline Reading List cache

By , Jul 5, 2014

Safari Reading List (teaser 001)

Whenever a new iPhone, iPod touch or iPad comes along, I always go for maximum storage.

Call me insane, but I’m inclined to keeping tons of photos, videos and apps stored directly on the device due to the nature of my work here at iDownloadBlog.

I suppose you don’t need me to tell you that such digital files add up quickly in terms of storage space. Now, there are plenty of strategies out there that can help you get the most out of your iOS device’s storage.

Today, I want to focus on Safari’s Reading List. Having debuted in iOS 5, this useful albeit storage-consuming feature has been around for nearly three years now.

If you save webpages for later to Safari’s Reading List, this tutorial will teach you how to reclaim storage space lost over caching by deleting Safari’s Offline Reading List cache…

For those unfamiliar with Safari Reading List, it’s a bookmarking feature that downloads, saves and synchronizes links to webpages across your devices along with their accompanying images, simple metadata and other assets.

It’s a lot like Instapaper or Pocket, but built right into Safari on iOS and OS X. Adding a webpage to your Reading List allows you to view and read it later in its full glory on iCloud-connected devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods and Macs), even if you’re not connected to the Internet.

Nowadays, webpages are optimized for high-resolution Retina graphics and include other rich media assets so Safari’s Reading List can eat up quite a lot storage space fairly quickly.

Although I’m a heavy Pocket user, I would save interesting articles I don’t have the time to read right now to Safari’s Reading List. Moreover, I’d typically forget to clear saved articles from the Reading List after reading them.

Currently, Reading List takes up 386 megabytes of storage space on my 64GB iPhone 5s – and this is after I’ve painstakingly removed each read articles. Before adopting Pocket as my go-to read-later solution, my Reading List had swelled to a whopping 1.2 gigabytes – that’s right 1.2 gigabytes worth of offline articles.

Fortunately enough, you can easily reclaimed this storage space on your device by deleting Safari’s Reading List cache.

How to wipe clean iOS Safari’s Offline Reading List cache

Step 1: Open Settings on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad and navigate to General > Usage > Manage Storage in the Settings app. Wait a little until iOS populates the list with apps. Locate Safari in the list and tap on it for more information.

Safari Reading List (clearing cache 001)Safari Reading List (clearing cache 002)

Step 2: This will take you to a new screen where you can easily see how much on-device storage is occupied by Website Data, your Browsing History and Safari’s Offline Reading List cache.

Safari Reading List (clearing cache 003)Safari Reading List (clearing cache 004)

To clear the Reading List cache, tap Edit in the upper right corner and then hit the minus sign next to Offline Reading List. Alternatively, just swipe to the left and a red Delete button will slide in next to Offline Reading List.

iOS 7 (Safari, Offline Reading List, Delete 001)

That’s all there is to it, really.

You can safely wipe the cache clean knowing this won’t remove any saved webpages from the Reading List. You will still be able to open any Reading List items from  Safari’s bookmark menu, just not offline.

Though cleaning the cache won’t prompt your device to re-download saved webpages, from  then onwards any new webpage added to Safari’s Reading List will get cached on this device, as well as all your others.

Apple currently does not provide an option to clear the Reading List cache on Macs. Also, you’ll want to run iOS 7.1 or later because previous versions sometimes won’t reclaim storage after deleting the Offline Reading List cache.

Here are a few additional tips that may come in handy.

To view your Reading List on an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, tap the Bookmarks icon in Safari and then hit the glasses icon. Again, you can view saved Reading List webpages at any time and without an Internet connection.

iOS 7 (Safari, REading List, Add a Webpage 001)

To add a webpage to your Reading List, tap the Share icon in Safari and choose Add to Reading List. iOS will immediately save the URL int your iCloud account and push the assets to all devices, so you can open the webpage even when you’re offline.

To quickly delete a saved webpage, swipe across an item in Safari’s Reading List to reveal a Delete button. Deleting a Reading List item will remove it from iCloud and purge its contents from all your iCloud-enabled devices.

To stop syncing Reading List on a per-device basis, disable the Safari switch under the iCloud section in Settings. This will also prevent Safari bookmarks from syncing with this device.

Let me know what you think about this tutorial and please share any related tips with fellow readers down in the comments.

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  • កន្លង់ បាក់ស្លាប

    Good idea :)

  • Anmol Malhotra

    What’s the use of reading list? I havent used this feature ever on my iPhone in 4 years.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Read the article:

      Today, I want to focus on Safari’s Reading List. Having debuted in iOS 5, this useful albeit storage-consuming feature has been around for nearly three years now.

      For those unfamiliar with Safari Reading List, it’s a bookmarking feature that downloads, saves and synchronizes links to webpages across your devices along with their accompanying images, simple metadata and other assets.

      • Anmol Malhotra

        So Instapaper and reading list have same functionality? Right?

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Correct, the article even goes on to say the following:

        It’s a lot like Instapaper or Pocket, but built right into Safari on iOS and OS X

        TLDR; Instapper like functionality baked right into stock iOS and OS X…

  • leart

    Never used this.. Don’t know why.
    My main iphone its not jailbroken so for me is easy, backup, erase all content and settings, restore back up, all the cache temporary files are deleted and my other files in itunes is reduced to 490 mb

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      I’d argue that it’s even easier to clear caches and other junk off jailbroken iPhones thanks to iCleaner…

      • leart

        Yeah icleaner is one click, is but the “other” file gets bigger and bigger with time and icleaner cant do nothing to reduce that

  • DogeCoin

    I don’t know if it’s available for ios, but trimage image compressor is good for losslessly optimizing Jpegs and pngs