Avoid garbage in WhatsApp: How to prevent photos or videos from being downloaded

One of the main problems we have in WhatsApp It is the amount of content and files that we receive in all the chats: videos, memes, forwarded audio, photos… And they take up space on our mobile phone, gigabytes and gigabytes that are stored if we do not delete them periodically. But the best solution is not to have to delete them every week, but rather to prevent them from being downloaded, and for this reason we will explain how to prevent WhatsApp from automatically downloading photos, videos or audios that you are not interested in and that you do not want to have.

It can not only be a problem for the storage of your mobile phone but those cat videos that your friends send in the different chats pose a risk to your smartphone because they are continually forwarded and may have malware that infects us or steals our data. When it downloads automatically, you may have stopped looking at the phone for a couple of hours and when you come back you find five, six or seven potentially dangerous videos that have already been stored. Therefore, the recommendation is that you only download files from reliable senders and that you check if they have the “forwarded” or “forwarded many times” label.

block downloads

WhatsApp downloads can be blocked so that no one downloads without your permission on Android or iOS. This does not mean that you will not be able to see the contents that your contacts send you, but rather that they will not be automatically saved in your phone’s memory unless you click on their download arrow or icon. With this, we manage to save only what we think interests us and we can avoid the typical “forwarded” videos in groups with many people that not only do not make us laugh, but may contain malware.

on Android

The steps to manage automatic downloads on Android are simple and we can choose if we want to block them with data, with WiFi or always.

  • Open WhatsApp on your Android mobile phone
  • Go to the settings by tapping on the three dots in the upper corner
  • Go to the “Data and storage” option that we see in the menu
  • Look for the second settings section “Download automatic
  • We will see three different options
    • Download with mobile data
    • Download over Wi-Fi
    • In data roaming
  • Tap on any of these options
  • We will see four options or boxes that we can check
    • Photos
    • Audio
    • Videos
    • documents

We can mark the options we want within each section. That is, you can mark that with WiFi photos and audios are downloaded but not videos. Or you can choose that with mobile data only audios are downloaded but neither photos nor videos nor documents. We can repeat the process for mobile data, WiFi and data roaming to choose what we want to be downloaded and what not.

When we have deactivated this option, the images or videos that they send us will appear with a blurred thumbnail and with an icon of a downward arrow as a download symbol. We simply tap on them to download them on our mobile phone and decide if we want to save them or not. But we will do it manually, one by one, and we will not run the risks mentioned in previous paragraphs.

on iOS

If you have an Apple mobile phone, we can also configure the different downloads so that you don’t fill up the memory with multimedia files that don’t interest you or that you don’t need. The steps are practically the same as on Android and we simply have to go to the settings of the messaging application:

  • Open WhatsApp on your iPhone
  • Click on the “Settings” button in the lower right corner
  • Go to the “Data and storage” section
  • You will see four options
    • Photos
    • Audio
    • Videos
    • documents
  • Choose in each of them never download


The only difference in iOS with respect to Android is that we will not choose what is downloaded with WiFi, data or roaming But the process is just the other way around. In other words, we can open the different sections (photos, audio, videos…) and choose when we want them to be downloaded and when we don’t want them to.

Delete all files from a chat

If you did not have this activated until now and you have been accumulating meaningless memes or videos, we can delete them in one fell swoop. We can simply delete all the files of the same type when we are in the chat and from the settings. For example, we can delete all videos of the group of friends in which there are only memes but not the rest of the videos received from WhatsApp. OR all your friend’s audio messages that does not tell you anything in writing. We can select exactly what we want to delete if we have already configured the app to prevent automatic downloads. This will keep our mobile clean and ready.

This tool has changed in recent months and WhatsApp used to allow us to filter according to the type of content that we wanted to delete (as you can see in the image) but currently all the files will be shown on a single screen and we must delete one by one or select all but we cannot select all the audios or select only the videos to delete them.


We must do it manually and the steps are as follows:

  • Open the WhatsApp application
  • Go to the three dots in the upper right corner
  • In the dropdown, choose “Settings”
  • Look for the section “Storage and data”

Once here, we can see a series of settings but the first one we can see is “Manage storage” along with a number that indicates the number of megabytes and gigabytes that we have stored on the phone and that are due to WhatsApp content: photos , videos, audio files… Tap on “Manage storage” and the details of the data or some of the files that take up more space in the application will appear. And, just below, we will see all the chats that we have active on WhatsApp and the number of megabytes that we have stored andn each chat, be it individual or be it a group.


For “clean up” We can do all the contents of a conversation from here, by touching it and marking what we want to send to the trash. This way we will free up space and get rid of photos and videos that are no longer going to come back. download from automatically. Repeat the process in all chats.