How to prevent apps from running out of disk space on Windows 11 | PCMag


I often install and uninstall large applications to test photo and video software, so disk space is something I actively watch. I’m sure the same goes for gamers or others who like to try out the latest software. But I find that some apps (both in Windows 11 and its predecessor Windows 10) consume huge amounts of storage space while you’re using them. Here I will show you an easy way to reclaim disk space from Microsoft Store apps.

I should note that this trick only applies to cloud-connected apps, but that includes many commonly used ones like Slack, Spotify, OneNote, email clients, and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Photo and video applications can be forgiven for requiring a lot of disk space because the content they deal with is large in nature. But messaging, email and streaming services don’t always need to take up all the space they do, as their content lives mostly online in the cloud.

A simple option that will save you tons of disk bits is to use a service’s Progressive Web App (PWA) instead of its installed app. This is a good option for streaming service apps like Spotify that have no business taking up your storage. See how to install an app as a PWA: It’s pretty simple, and good PWAs can work offline. I did this with the default Windows Mail app, switching instead to the excellent web-based Outlook, which can handle both Gmail and Microsoft mail accounts.

But for programs without a good PWA option, there’s another route, which I’ll walk you through here. Note that the steps below are for Windows 11 computers, but this also works on Windows 10, with some slightly different setting names.

1. Open the Settings app and go to the Apps page.

A quick way to get there is by right-clicking the Start button and then selecting the main option, Installed Apps, which saves you from having to do the next step. (Note that in Windows 10 it’s called Apps and Features).

(Credit: Microsoft/PCMag)

2. Click Installed Apps to see a list of all your installed apps.

Once there, I recommend sorting by size, with the largest first. Note that you can also sort by installation date or name. A good way to save disk space is to simply uninstall anything on this list that you don’t use. But that is outside of our main mission. Forget big media apps like Ableton Live and Adobe Photoshop – they’re going to take up a lot of space, and there’s no way around it. But notice a couple of the Microsoft Store apps in the list below that take up more of your disk space than seems reasonable since they’re all about storing data in the cloud: Mail, Slack, and Spotify.

Prevent apps from eating up your Windows 11 disk space: List your installed apps

(Credit: Microsoft/PCMag)

3. Click the three dots to the right of the offending app.

You can see here that Slack takes up 1.44GB, and this isn’t even my main work computer, where it regularly exceeds 2GB. That’s a lot for an app that runs mostly in the cloud to save on your local computer.

Prevent apps from running out of Windows 11 disk space: overflow menu in app settings

(Credit: Microsoft/PCMag)

4. Choose Advanced Options.

Scroll down to the Reset section.

Prevent apps from eating up your Windows 11 disk space: Reset

(Credit: Microsoft/PCMag)

5. Note that there are two buttons, Repair and Reset. Click Reset.

The former does not touch the application data; this is not what we want as our goal is to reduce the data it stores. Do not use this option in applications that are not cloud-based.

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Voilà! You’ve reduced your app footprint!

In this case, we’ve reduced Slack’s footprint by more than a gigabyte. If you let your apps hoard disk space, you’ll get much bigger savings. What’s been deleted is simply cached data, which can make app content open faster, but can easily be reloaded from the app’s online feed.

Repair the app in Windows 11

(Credit: Microsoft/PCMag)

A small downside to this process is that you may need to log in again. The truth is, it’s no more difficult than logging into a website, and some apps like Slack make it even easier by using “magic links” that let you log back in.

Sign in to the Slack app on Windows 11

(Credit: Slack)

I hope you find this tip helpful. It seems like the kind of thing that many Windows 11 app users might not be aware of, and it’s often helped me reclaim precious SSD space.

We’ve got lots more Windows 11 tips to help you get the most out of Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system, and we’ve also got more tips for saving disk space. To stay up to date with the latest in the operating system, head over to our Windows 11 series page, and for a complete overview of the software in all its glory, read our full Windows 11 review.

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