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How to stop apps from taking up your Windows 11 storage space

I often install and uninstall large applications to test photo and video software, so I actively manage storage space. I’m sure the same goes for gamers or other people who like to try out the latest programs. But I find that some apps (both in Windows 11 and its predecessor Windows 10) eat up massive amounts of storage space when you use them. Here I will show you an easy way to reclaim space from apps from Microsoft Store.

I should point out right away that this trick only applies to cloud-connected apps, but that includes many commonly used apps, including Slack, Spotify, OneNote, email clients, and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Photo and video apps take up a lot of storage space because the content they deal with is inherently large. But messaging, mail, and streaming services don’t always have to take up all the storage space, as their content is mostly stored online in the cloud.

A simple option that will save you heaps 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 nothing to do with your storage space. Check out how to install an app as a PWA – it’s easy, and good PWAs can work offline too. I did it with the default Windows Mail app and instead switched to the excellent web-based Outlook, which can handle both Gmail and Microsoft Mail accounts.

But for programs without good PWA option, there is another way which I will guide you here. Note that the following steps apply to Windows 11 PCs, but this also works on Windows 10, with some slightly different names of the settings.

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

A quick way to get there is to right-click the Start button and then select the top option, Installed Apps, which saves you the next step. (Note that in Windows 10 it’s called Apps & Features.)

Stop apps from taking up your Windows 11 storage: Open Settings

(Source: Microsoft/PCMag)

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

There I recommend sorting by size, with the largest first. Note that you can also sort by install date or name. A good way to save disk space is to simply uninstall everything on this list that you are not using. But that is besides our main task. Forget the big media apps like Ableton Live and Adobe Photoshop – they’re going to take up a lot of space and there’s no getting around it. However, note some of the Microsoft Store apps in the list below that are taking up more of your hard drive than is reasonable because they’re all about storing data in the cloud: Mail, Slack, and Spotify.

Prevent apps from taking up your Windows 11 storage: List installed apps

(Source: Microsoft/PCMag)

3. Click on the three dots to the right of the perpetrator app.

Here you can see that Slack occupies 1.44GB, and this isn’t even my primary work computer, which regularly exceeds 2GB. That’s a lot for an app that mostly works in the cloud to keep on your local PC.

Prevent apps from taking up your Windows 11 storage space: overflow menu in app settings

(Source: Microsoft/PCMag)

4. Select Advanced Options.

Scroll down to the Reset section.

Stop apps from taking up your Windows 11 storage: reset

(Source: Microsoft/PCMag)

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

The first one doesn’t touch the app’s data – that’s not what we want since our goal is to reduce the data it stores. Don’t use this option for apps that aren’t cloud-based.

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Voila! They’ve reduced the app’s footprint!

In this case, we reduced Slack’s footprint by more than a gigabyte. If you’ve abandoned your apps to accumulate storage, you’ll see much bigger savings. What has been removed is simply cached data, which might open the app’s contents faster, but which can be easily reloaded from the app’s online source.

Repair app on Windows 11

(Source: Microsoft/PCMag)

A small downside to this process is that you may have to log in again. Honestly, it’s no harder than logging into a website, and some apps like Slack make it even easier by using “magic links” that take you right back inside.

Sign in to the Slack app on Windows 11

(Image credit: Slack)

I hope you find this tip useful. It seems like many users are unaware of Windows 11 apps and it has helped me many times to reclaim valuable SSD space.

We’ve got plenty more Windows 11 tips to help you get the most out of Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system, and we’ve got more storage-saving tips too. To keep up to date with the latest operating systems, visit our Windows 11 Series page, and for a complete look at the software in all its glory, read our full Windows 11 review.

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