How To Delete Photos From an iPhone
Updated: November 22,2022
Having modern and compact smartphones means you can take thousands of professional-seeming photos of anything and everything, wherever you are. On the downside, that means it’s just a matter of time before your iPhone storage is full of thousands of images of kaiseki dishes, corgis, and identical golden hour selfies, to the point of slowing down your phone's performance.
The main mantra of iPhone design is “Keep it simple,” and it applies to image deletion, too. Unfortunately, some deleted images will linger in your storage space for various reasons. Luckily, we’ll teach you how to delete photos from the iPhone permanently, no matter how stubborn they are.
Deleting Pictures From an iPhone
There are a couple of ways to wipe your iPhone clean of unwanted files, whether you want to delete a few images, an entire album, or all photos.
We'll also cover some peculiarities, such as deleted images still taking up space or a transfer corruption that can make photos very difficult to erase. If you delete a photo by mistake, we’ll show you how to restore it.
Before you try to remove a picture from your iPhone, make sure you've made a data backup. After you're done deleting images, always check the Recently Deleted Album that keeps deleted photos for 30 days.
Delete a Single Photo
If you want to delete one or a few images, the Photos app is where you need to go:
- Open the Photos app, and press the Library tab.
- Go to All Photos, then tap the photo to check-mark it.
- Tap the Trash button, followed by “Delete Photo.”
- If you want to remove recent photos from your iPhone, find them in the Recent album.
- If you wish to delete a selfie, video, or screenshot, scroll down to the Media Types tab in the Album menu.
Delete Several Photos at Once
If your kids don’t have phones of their own, they’ll likely use yours to take pictures whenever they can get their hands on it. You’ll probably want to delete most of those, and can do so via the Photos App:
- In the Library tab, go to All Photos, then tap Select.
- To keep deleting photos from your iPhone, tap the images you want to remove or slide your finger from the bottom-right image to the bottom-left to choose multiple photos. Use the index finger of your other hand to quickly swipe down several times to select hundreds or thousands of pictures in a few seconds.
- Once you've got your selection, press the Trash button.
Delete Pictures From an Album
Everyone has a Wall of Shame Album they only keep for themselves. However, if you’re planning on getting rid of your current phone, you’d best delete those first. Fortunately, the iPhone's operating system has made this easy for all users. To delete all iPhone photos in an album:
- Open the Photos app, and go to Albums to find your target directory.
- Press Select in the upper-right corner, then tap on Select All on the left.
- Tap the Trash button to remove all photos from that album.
- In case you have an iCloud Photos library, you'll get a notification that you're about to delete pictures from the iCloud too. If you're okay with that, press Delete. We'll talk more about the iCloud Photos service later.
If you don’t want to remove every picture from your iPhone albums, but want to get rid of some custom iPhone photo folders, we’re here for you. In a few straightforward moves, you’ll keep your photos, but be free of unwanted albums:
- In the Photos app, open Albums to find the See All option next to My Albums. It will activate a view with all the albums.
- Press the Edit icon in the upper right. Every Album that you can delete will be marked with the red badge.
- Press the red circle to delete the Album (pictures will remain on your iPhone).
Handling Recently Deleted Photos
Logic says that your deleted pictures from your iPhone should stay deleted. What’s more, you should also see more available space once you go to Settings > General > Device Storage.
However, that is not the case; deleted files go to a unique album with the title Recently Deleted. Only after 30 days are images from this folder truly deleted for users. This folder exists so you can quickly recover deleted photos from your iPhone.
Deleting Images for Good
If you want deleted photos to stay gone, you need to ensure the Recently Deleted Album is clean.
- Open the Photos app, then tap on Albums.
- Here, you'll find the Recently Deleted Album.
- Press Select in the upper-right corner of the screen.
- Select the photo again and press Delete.
- If you want to remove all pictures in the Recently Deleted Album, press Select, then tap Delete All.
Restore Deleted Images
The main point of having the Recently Deleted folder is that you can just as easily retrieve deleted photos on an iPhone as delete them in the first place. Hence, if you've deleted photos by mistake or changed your mind, you can remedy that for 30 days after the initial deletion:
- Tap on the Photos app, press Albums, and go to the Recently Deleted Album.
- Select the image you want to retrieve.
- Press the Recover option to complete this process.
- To restore several photos at once, press Select in the Recently Deleted album, tap the images you want back, and press Recover. Otherwise, tap the Recover All option to recover all recently deleted photos on iPhone.
We've mentioned earlier the iCloud Photos service that stores files, including photos, on remote servers. This feature comes in handy if you want to save up on storage space and upload images directly to the cloud.
If you're keeping this little-known phone feature activated and store photo backups on the iCloud, they'll be gone from remote servers when you remove them from your phone. You'll have to disable iCloud photo storage syncing first to prevent photos from disappearing from there. If you reactivate the iCloud without any precautions, all the images you've already deleted will be gone immediately, due to syncing.
Remove All Pictures at Once
We wrote about how to delete all photos via the Photos app. There are alternative and equally fast ways to remove all images, regardless of where they are placed on the phone.
Delete with Image Capture
This app allows Mac users to upload or delete images from scanners, digital cameras, or iPhones. It has a straightforward user interface, and you can delete photos from your iPhone permanently if you're not using the iCloud Photo Library. Otherwise, the Delete button will not be grayed out for iCloud users.
- Use a USB cable to connect your Mac and iPhone.
- To permanently delete photos from your iPhone, start the Image Capture on macOS.
- Allow the iPhone to trust your Mac in the popup window.
- When iPhone images show up in Image Capture, press Cmd + A on your keyboard to select them all, and press the round red button in the bottom-left of the window, next to the Import To option to delete them.
Delete with Mac Photos
The Photos app is available for Mac laptops and computers, and you can use it to delete iPhone images. It’s a slower solution than the Image Capture app, but it still works.
If you are using the iCloud Photo Library, you can make a smart album. With it, you can access and delete photos placed in that folder if you keep the sync option activated.
- Open the Photos app.
- Press File from the options menu.
- Select New Smart Album to create one.
- Type in the name for the newly-created Smart Album and define its parameters.
- After doing this, pictures will show up in this Album according to your parameters.
- You can delete photos from the Smart Album on your iPhone.
Delete with Google Photos
To ensure that iPhone deleted photos are permanently gone, you can rely on Google Photos.
- Download the Google Photos app from the App Store.
- Log in with your Google account and back up your photo library.
- Press the menu icon in the upper-left, then press Settings.
- Tap on Manage Device Storage, and select the Free Up Space on your iPhone.
- Once the app searches backed-up photos, it will ask you to confirm if you want to delete pictures.
- To remove a picture from your iPhone, press Remove and open the Photos app to delete any photos in the Recently Deleted Album.
Delete with Windows
IPhone users who rely on the Windows operating system can quickly delete photos from their iPhones.
- Connect your iPhone with your PC and allow the PC to access your iPhone files.
- In Windows File Explorer, open the DCIM folder on the iPhone's HDD.
- Click on the images you wish to delete or press Ctrl + A to select all photos for deletion.
- Press Shift + Del on the keyboard to delete selected photos.
By now, you should know how to delete photos or restore recently deleted photos on your iPhone in many ways. The way you’ll choose depends on your convenience only, but you should never be stumped as to how to delete images from your iPhone ever again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Open the Photos app, tap the Select option, then press photos you want to delete by sliding your finger from the bottom-right image to the bottom-left to select thousands of photos. Use the other hand's finger to swipe downward several times quickly. Once you’ve chosen all the photos you wanted, press the Trash icon to delete them.
We've covered this topic in our “How to Delete Photos from Your iPhone” article. You can use the Image Capture app, Photos app on Mac, Google Photos app, or connect your phone with a Windows PC to wipe the iPhone clean.
It might be a glitch in your phone, in which case you should contact Apple support. Otherwise, you might have deleted photos in your Recently Deleted folder, where they will stay for 30 days. Open this Album from the Photos app to permanently clean your phone from images.
Your email address will not be published.
A true tech and gaming savant, Ivan has been fascinated by the digital world since the early days of gaming on antiques such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore’s beloved Amiga. Whether you’re interested in the latest PC and console gaming news, antivirus software, or smartphone reviews, or simply want to learn about the newest geeky gadgets around, we at KT have you covered, and Ivan’s likely the one we’ll ask.