I frequently install and uninstall large applications for testing photo and video software, so disk space is something I watch actively. I’m sure the same holds true for gamers or other people who like trying out the latest programs. But I find that some apps (in both Windows 11 and its predecessor Windows 10) eat up enormous amounts of storage space as you use them. Here I’ll show you an easy way to recover disk space from apps from the Microsoft Store.
I should note off the bat that this trick is only applicable to cloud-connected apps, but that includes many commonly used ones, including Slack, Spotify, OneNote, email clients, and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Photo and video apps can be forgiven for requiring a lot of disk space because the content they deal with is large by nature. But messaging, mail, and streaming services don’t always need to hog all the space they do, since their content lives mostly 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) rather than its installed app. That’s 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 quite simple, and good PWAs can work offline. I did it with the default Windows Mail app, switching instead to the excellent web-based Outlook, which can handle Gmail as well as Microsoft mail accounts.
But for programs without a good PWA option, there’s another route, which I’ll take you through here. Note that the steps below are for Windows 11 PCs, but this works in Windows 10, too, with some slightly different names of settings.
1. Open the Settings app and head to the Apps page.
A quick way to get there is by right-clicking on the Start button and then selecting the top choice, Installed Apps, which saves you from having to do the next step. (Note that in Windows 10 it’s called Apps & Features.)
2. Click on Installed Apps to see a list of all your installed apps.
Once there I recommend sorting by size, with the biggest first. Note that you can also sort by installation date or name. A great way to conserve disk space is to simply uninstall anything in this list you don’t use. But that’s aside from our main mission. Forget about the large media apps like Ableton Live and Adobe Photoshop—they’re gonna 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 than seems reasonable, since they’re all about storing data in the cloud: Mail, Slack, and Spotify.
3. Click on the three dots to the right of the culprit app.
Here you can see that Slack takes up 1.44GB, and this is not even my primary work computer, where it tops 2GB regularly. That’s an awful lot for an app that primarily works in the cloud to save to your local PC.
4. Choose Advanced Options.
Scroll down to the Reset section.
5. Note that 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 that it’s storing. Don’t use this option on apps that are not cloud-based.
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Voilà! You’ve reduced the app’s footprint!
In this case, we reduced Slack’s footprint by more than a gigabyte. If you’ve let your apps sit accumulating drive space, you’ll get much bigger savings. What’s been removed is simply cached data, which may make the app open content quicker, but which can easily be reloaded from the app’s online source.
One small downside to this process is that you may have to sign in again. Truthfully, it’s no harder than signing into a website, and some apps like Slack make it even easier by using “magic links” that get you right back in.
I hope you find this tip useful. It seems like the kind of thing many Windows 11 app users might be unaware of, and it has often helped me reclaim precious SSD space.
We have a whole lot more Windows 11 tips to help you get the most out of Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system, and we also have more disk-space-saving tips. To keep up with all the latest on the OS, head to our Windows 11 series page, and for the full overview of the software in all its glory, read our full Windows 11 review.
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