It's easy to delete iPhone photos. Photos captured with the iPhone's camera are saved to Camera Roll, and a few taps removes photos from your iPhone. In this tutorial, we'll show all the different ways to delete or remote iPhone photos, and how to recover them afterwards if you change your mind.
How to delete photos from your iPhone: Why it's important to remove unwanted iPhone photos
Why would you want to delete photos from your iPhone? Removing unwanted photos cleans up your Photo Collection, making it easier to show off the images you want. Deleting unwanted photos also frees up space on your iPhone, allowing you space to store more photos.
How to delete photos from your iPhone: Deleting photos individually
Follow these steps to delete a photo from your iPhone:
Tap to open the Photos app.
If it's not highlighted already, tap the Photos icon on the left of the bottom bar.
Tap Select (top right).
Tap on the images you want to remove. Each one selected will have a small blue tick on the bottom-right of the thumbnail image.
Tap the Trash icon in the bottom right and then hit 'Delete [x] Photos' to confirm.
Note that the images are permanently deleted from your iPhone at this point. Despite the icon, there is no Trash folder on the iPhone like there is in Mac OS X - there isn't an additional step where you empty the trash.
How to delete whole photo albums from your iPhone
Sometimes you send whole albums to the iPhone; these can include pictures snapped on the iPhone, or synced with iPhoto on a Mac. You can remove whole albums from the iPhone. Follow these steps to delete an album:
Tap on Photos
Tap on Albums
Tap on Edit
Tap on the red Remove icon to the left of the album you want to remove
Tap on Delete and choose Delete Album
Note that deleting albums does not delete the photos from Camera Roll or Photo Stream. It simply removes the copies of the photos that are stored inside the album.
How to delete groups of photos from your iPhone: Select a Moment
Another way to save time when deleting lots of photos from your iPhone is to delete groups of photos at once.
When you're in the Photos app, take a look at the heading at the top of the screen - by default this should say Moments. (If it doesn't, you're either in the Years or Collections screens. Tap a Year to zoom into the Collections page, then tap a Collection to zoom into Moments.)
You can delete a Moment with one tap. After tapping Select, instead of tapping individual photos to be deleted from your iPhone, press the word Select next to a Moment, and iOS will select every photo in that Moment at once. You can then delete them all, export them to Facebook or Flickr, or add them to an album.
At the moment it doesn't seem possible to select Collections or Years of photos at once. But if we take a trip to the desktop we can easily grab larger groups of photos at once.
How to select all the photos on your iPhone and delete all photos at once
Deleting photos from an iPhone can seem laborious if you follow the steps above - tapping every single photo you want to delete can take a while if you're clearing out the whole lot, and even deleting Moments doesn't save a huge amount of time. How can we select every photo on your iPhone and delete the lot in one go?
Sadly there isn't a 'select all' button in the Photos app on the iPhone itself, but it's straightforward to select all photos on an iPhone and remove or delete them all at once. We'd suggest using the free/bundled Mac OS X app Image Capture.
Plug your iPhone into the Mac and open Image Capture by clicking its icon in the Dock. (If you've not used Image Capture before, you may have to go into Applications to find the app icon.)
In Image Capture, look under Devices in the left-hand menu and click on the iPhone's icon. (It may be the only device there, unless you've got several smartphones/tablets plugged in.) You'll see all the photos on the iPhone in a vertical list.
If you want to select all the photos on the iPhone, click on one of the photos (it doesn't matter which one), then press Apple + A (or Cmd + A, depending on which terminology you use - we discuss the Command and Option keys here). All the photos in the list will be highlighted in blue.
You can choose to import all the photos to your Mac, if you've got the space to spare (this might be a good idea, if you're about to delete them from the iPhone), but we'll move straight on to deleting them. The delete button is the red one at the bottom left of the Image Capture window.
Press this, and confirm the deletion.
All the photos will be removed from your iPhone in one go.
How to recover deleted photos on your iPhone
We said earlier that the photos are deleted permanently, but there are actually some ways to recover photos that have been deleted from an iPhone.
If you have Photo Stream turned on, for example, the images should be in your Photo Stream. Photo Stream keeps photos for up to six months.
To recover photos that have been deleted from your iPhone, follow these steps:
Tap on Photos
Tap on My Photo Stream
Tap on Select
Tap on the images you want to recover. Each one selected contains a small blue tick n the bottom-right of its thumbnail image.
Tap Share in the Bottom Right and Save To Camera Roll
The photos are sent from your Photo Stream and back to the Camera Roll, where you can view them as before.
- Set Photo Stream up on your Apple devices
- How to use iCloud Photo Sharing on the iPad and iPhone
- iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5 cameras compared in our Photo Shoot Out
- How to use Burst Mode on iPhone 5s
- How to upload photos from a camera to an iPad
- Read: How to transfer photos from Mac to Android & Windows tablets