You're in the park with your family and one of the kids does something unbelievably cute. You quickly grab your smartphone to take a video and ... "Not enough room.”
A full smartphone or tablet can't take pictures, download music, add new apps or even install operating system updates that contain important security fixes. You need to free up some space fast, and I can tell you how without losing any important information.
Clear out apps
Apps can make your phone or tablet do some useful and amazing things. I have plenty of great apps from games and utilities to security and photo editors on my site, but they can fill up your available space before you realize it. You probably don't need every one of those latest-addicting-must-have game apps, or three to-do-list apps.
In Apple, iOS 8, go to Settings>>General>>Usage>>Manage Storage. For iOS 7 and earlier, it's just Settings>>General>>Usage. Here you'll see a list of apps and how much space they use. This helps you make an informed decision about where to go fat-trimming. To delete an app you don't want, simply tap its name. Then tap the "Delete App" button on the next screen.
In Android, go to Settings>>Applications (Settings>>Application Manager on some gadgets). Swipe left until you end up on the "Downloaded" tab. Here you'll see a list of apps you've downloaded and how much space they use. To remove an app, just tap the name and then tap the "Uninstall" button. Start removing the apps you no longer use, then take a look at the largest apps that are left and think about how much you really need them.
With Android, you can also go to Settings>>Storage to get a detailed breakdown of how much space you have and what's using it, such as Apps, Pictures, Audio, Downloads, etc. Tapping a category will take you to the relevant area of Android. So, tapping on "Apps" will take you to the Application Management screen, while tapping "Pictures" will take you to your photo gallery app.
In Windows Phone 8, go to the Start screen and swipe left to get the App list. Tap and hold an app and then tap "Uninstall." Tap "Yes" and the app will go away.
Organize your photos and videos
Smartphone cameras make it easy to snap dozens of pictures of that family outing, friendly get-together or just a funny random moment you see while out and about. Do that every couple of days for a year or two and it's no wonder your phone is full.
Take a look through your phone's camera app. Are there any accidental photos, such as photos of the floor, sky or doorway you can delete? Are most of your good photos already posted to social media?
To free up space, you can transfer and organize photos and videos on your home computer or online storage using programs like iPhoto, Dropbox or Picasa. With Android, you might also be able to plug your gadget into your computer and drag the files directly and then delete them from your gadget.
Your camera isn't just for photos; it can shoot video, too. A dozen one-minute videos you shot at birthday parties and other celebrations can take up gigabytes of space. You'll definitely want to move these over to a computer to free up space. You can also upload them to an online storage site like Dropbox or Google Drive, or put them on a video-sharing site like YouTube, or upload them to iCloud photo sharing on an iPhone. If you don't want everyone seeing them, mark them as private so only people you choose can see them.
Stream music and movies
Your smartphone or tablet works great as a media player for music and videos, but those take up a lot of space. Instead of loading your entire media library on your gadget, consider using a cloud streaming service instead.
For iPhones and iPads, Apple's iTunes Match will hold your entire music library in the cloud and stream to you the songs you want. Sure it costs $25 a year, but that's much less than spending hundreds on a new gadget with more storage that will just fill up again.
Google Play Music is another solution. This service can hold your entire music library, including songs from iTunes, and stream your music to you whenever you want. The only space it takes up is for the Google Play Music app, not each individual song or album. There's also an option to get a subscription to add new music and movies, much like iTunes. These solutions, of course, use up your data allowance when you’re not on Wi-Fi.
Of course that's not your only option for streaming music instead of storing it. Click here to explore more streaming music options that give you a nearly infinite music library.
When it comes to movies, just five feature-length HD movies will take up 15GB or more of space. That's all the space available on many gadgets and a large chunk of others.
If you purchased movies via iTunes, Amazon or Google Play, those are available in the cloud and you can stream them using each service's respective app. Don't forget you can also stream movies from Netflix, Hulu and other services using their apps.
Unless you're traveling and you won't have Wi-Fi access, you don't need to store movies on your gadget. If you are traveling, though, be sure to check out the VLC app (Android, Free) that can play any movie file. It cuts down on the headaches of making sure your movies are in the right format.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.