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Step-by-step: De-clutter your smartphone

If you’ve owned your phone for more than six months, chances are, you’re toting around apps you no longer use that are taking up valuable space. Clean up your act with these tips from the chief gadget officer of Gazelle.

Happy woman on smartphone

Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer of Gazelle, knows how important it is to keep your phone clean and clutter-free. He gave us tips on making our phones easier to use by getting rid of the clutter.

Step 1: Back it up

You should back up your phone at least every 30 days to ensure you don’t lose any valuable data if you get a little tap-happy with the delete key. But always back up your phone before you begin to de-clutter, too. Scarsella advises you use the phone manufacturer’s recommended backup method for best results.

Step 2: Delete unwanted apps and files

Go through the apps on your phone. If there’s anything you haven’t used in 90 days, delete it (unless it’s an emergency program like Find My iPhone). If you’ve defeated a game and don’t plan to use it again, delete it. On most devices, the apps you’ve purchased are backed up in your account, so they’re not permanently gone if you want them back, so don’t hang on to something just because you might want it later.

This is also a good time to organize your apps into folders or screens if that’s an option. You can have folders for things like social media, kids’ games, adult games, work-related apps and more.

You should also get rid of unwanted files. When was the last time you really listened to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”? Delete all your texts, notes, voice mails and unnecessary photos (they can be backed up on your computer before you take it off your phone).

If you’re selling your phone, Scarsella recommends a much more drastic measure. He says that after your final backup, you should follow your manufacturer’s instructions to wipe and reset your phone. But just because you clear your device doesn’t mean the data can’t be reconstructed or located. Use a well-rated data wiper to be certain. ProtectStar’s iShredder (for iOS devices) is a good choice for Apple device users who want military-grade security for their final wipe. If you can, you might just remove your SIM and memory cards altogether if you’re selling it. Scarsella says that not all smartphone resellers wipe these cards before resale.

Step 3: Make additions

Once you’re sure you’ve rid your phone of anything unnecessary, you can add anything you’d like to have. Perhaps you’d like your sister’s wedding photos, that new Robin Thicke song you can’t seem to explain why you like or just a few more apps. Add those now.

This is also a good time to consider other maintenance apps. Smartphones get viruses too. Scarsella recommends Virus Barrier for iPhones and Lookout Security and Antivirus for Android.

If you want to be able to sell your phone, installing a battery-maintenance program will help ensure your battery stays in optimum condition (meaning it’s worth more when you go to sell). For iPhones, he recommends Battery Life Pro, and he likes GSam Battery Monitor for Android. Most smartphones recommend that you cycle your battery every so often for optimum performance. These apps will give you a better idea your battery habits and help you keep tabs so your cycling can happen when you don’t need to use your phone.

Step 4: Sync

Once your phone is clutter-free, it’s time to re-sync it. If your sync software has the option, make sure you select to keep your previous installation in case something happens.

Now that your phone is clean, give it a good wipe with a microfiber cloth to make it look new and shiny.

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