A customer inspects the new iPhone at the Wangfujing flagship store on Sept. 20, 2013 in Beijing,
Lintao Zhang—Getty Images
November 6, 2014 10:19 AM EST

We’ve all been there: Running low on iPhone storage space, scrambling to delete photos we can live without to record new memories. Well, Apple’s newest iOS update gave us a handy new way to get more storage out of our iPhones without upgrading the hardware.

Apple’s iOS 8.1 activated a feature called the iCloud Photo Library, which automatically uploads your photos and videos to your iCloud account — Apple’s version of cloud storage. iCloud users get 5GB of storage space for free, but can bump that up to 20GB for $.99/month, 200GB for $3.99/month, 500GB for $9.99/month and so on.

If you choose to activate iCloud Photo Library, your iPhone will by default keep big, high-resolution files both on your device and on iCloud. But here’s where the storage-saving trick comes in: You can set the iCloud Photo Library to upload the higher-resolution files to the cloud and keep only compressed (read: smaller) versions on your iPhone. Those compressed versions are still good enough to show off your photos to family and friends on your iPhone screen, but they take up much less space on your device — leaving you free to take more photos and videos.

To turn on the iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone or iPad, first make sure you’ve got the latest iOS 8.1 update installed and that you’re signed up for iCloud. Then go to Settings, select iCloud, find Photos and turn on iCloud Photo Library. Then, for the space-saving trick, activate the “Optimize” feature, which is also accessible by going to Settings, selecting Photos & Camera, then iCloud Photo Library.

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