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Why does the Reminders app have 471 MB of “Documents & Data” on my phone?

First of all, I’ve only ever created text reminders. There’s no reason that it should’ve ever used that much space for some plain text.

I cleared all of the completed reminders. When that made no difference I literally deleted every single reminder and list. As you can see, there are no reminders remaining.

all reminders deleted

So why does it still take 471 MB of space that I can’t get rid of? I uninstalled it and then restarted my phone and it still takes up the same amount of space.

still takes up space

(Click images to open full size)

Update: I disabled Reminders from syncing via iCloud, and the amount of Documents and Data increased! Now it's 507 MB!

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    It's indeed weird since mine has 12.7 MB of Documents & Data and I use it almost daily (at least 1 different reminder a day) - loads of reminders stored even ones with pictures. Also, as I can see on your 2nd screenshot, there's an update available for that app; try to do it and see what happens.
    – Thinkr
    May 2, 2023 at 7:36
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    Some numbers would be of use here, it's hard to see whether your usage is exceptional unless we have something to compare to. How many completed and current reminders were deleted? Bear in mind that there will be a database structure which will require compacting, but that will be done as and when iOS requires the space. As an energy saving mechanism, especially on mobile devices, the OS usually doesn't do housekeeping until it needs to. It is not unusual in Apple apps to see deletions not immediately reflected in free space figures, both in iOS and macOS. May 2, 2023 at 9:56
  • @AndyGriffiths there were about 100 reminders all repeating annually, and that was it. Probably ~200 completed ones that I cleared out. On a related note the Reminders app has always been extremely slow for me. My phone has been out of storage for months which is why I’m deleting apps and noticed how bloated it was. This morning it’s down to 466 MB (I have 1.5 GB free space on the phone) so maybe if I fill the phone storage up again it will finally clear these out
    – AskSame
    May 2, 2023 at 14:31
  • @thinkr it’s not an update it’s because I deleted the app. I reinstalled and redeleted it and it’s the same
    – AskSame
    May 2, 2023 at 14:33
  • Oh alright. I see if I can replicate the issue
    – Thinkr
    May 2, 2023 at 17:20

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I was able to improve it. I found this long thread on Apple support which suggested that "cleared" reminders are merely hidden and not fully deleted.

  1. Enabled Reminders on iCloud again and reinstalled the app on my phone.
  2. On my Mac, went to ~/Library/Reminders/ and found that there was an sqlite file that was taking 500 MB of space, the same size that the iPhone was reporting.
  3. First I tried opening the sqlite database in a GUI and truncating all of the tables. However for some reason the file size remained the same.
  4. So finally I just deleted the sqlite database entirely, since I don't care about preserving its contents. If you do care about preserving your reminders then good luck and probably try a better app.
  5. I toggled Reminders off and back on in my iPhone iCloud settings.
  6. Now the Reminders "Documents & Data" is finally down to 70 MB. Still not perfect but a lot more acceptable.

It still seems like some bug must have caused it to take so much data in the first place. Probably a repeating reminder that created more duplicates than it should have.

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    Thank you for this. I remember seeing my alarm list on my home pods for the first time. It’s like every alarm ever set was duplicated a hundred times. There were thousands of them listed… suspicious bug feeling behavior there as well.
    – bmike
    Jan 28 at 1:33

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