A huge amount of space on our phones tends to be taken up by photos.
It’s easy to forget to sort through your iPhone photos and regularly remove duplicates, screenshots, or just any unwanted images. This can lead to a lot of storage space being eaten up unnecessarily, and a lot of clutter that makes it hard to navigate your ever-growing gallery. Next thing you know, you get the dreaded notification that your iPhone is almost out of space.
Because it’s so convenient to be able to access your photos on your phone whenever and wherever you like, deleting them may not seem like the ideal solution. Luckily, there are ways to keep your photos accessible on your iPhone without having to sacrifice space, thanks to cloud storage.
Below, we’ll outline the best ways to delete photos from iPhone devices before exploring ways to back up your iPhone photos on the cloud.
If you’re not just removing duplicates or unwanted photos, then it’s important to make sure that you’ve securely backed up your photos elsewhere before removing them from your device.
If you have iCloud Photos turned on, then any photo you’ve taken on your iPhone will have already been automatically uploaded to your Apple iCloud storage.
To check that iCloud Photo syncing is set up:
When you turn iCloud Photos syncing on, you’ll notice two options for how you store photos on your phone. If you select Download and Keep Originals, then your original, full-sized photos will remain saved on your phone as well as on iCloud—which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to free up space. If you select Optimize iPhone Storage, smaller-sized, lower-quality versions of your recent photos will be kept on your device while original copies will live in the cloud.
You might want to move your photos over to your computer before deleting them from your iOS device.
To import photos from your iPhone to your Mac computer, first connect it with a USB cable and open Photos if it doesn’t open automatically. Click File in the top menu, and select Import. Your iPhone photos should appear and you can then select whichever photos you want imported and click Review for Import at the bottom-right corner.
You’ll be told if there are any selected photos that you’ve already imported. Then, simply press Import New Photos at the top-right of the window to add them to your Mac.
When you plug your iPhone into a Windows 10 PC with a USB cable, the Photos app should automatically launch. If not, you can search for it in the Start menu. The import button is at the top-right of the Photos window, and when you click it, a pop-up will appear where you can select which photos to import.
Once you’ve selected photos, click Continue, and you’ll then be able to change the location where the photos will be saved. You can also choose to delete the photos from your iPhone after they’ve imported to your PC. Then, press Import to finish the process.
If it’s just one individual photo that you want to delete from your iPhone, simply head to your Photos app, select the photo you’d like deleted, and click on the trash can icon that should appear on the bottom-right corner of your screen.
You’ll be prompted to confirm the deletion, and reminded that deleting the photo from your device will also remove it from your iCloud account. Simply press Delete Photo and your photo will be deleted—though not permanently, we’ll get to that below.
To delete multiple photos, open the Photos app, and tap the Select button at the top right corner of the screen. You can then tap all of the individual photos you want to delete. Once you’ve selected all of them, press the trash icon.
If you’re deleting from an album, you’ll be asked if you want to remove the photos from that particular album or delete them altogether. If you choose to remove them from the album, the photos will still be present on your phone, just not in the album that you removed them from.
To delete every photo from your iPhone, make sure you’re in the All Photos viewer of the Photos app, as opposed to the Albums tab. Tap the Select button and tap your most recent photo to select it. Then, hold your finger on the next photo and without releasing, drag your finger up until every photo is selected. Press the trash icon once every photo is selected to delete your entire gallery.
Alternatively, you can delete all your photos from the Albums section of Photos. In any album apart from Recent Photos, when you tap Select you’ll see a Select All option appear on the top left corner of the screen. Press Select All and then delete every photo or video in that album, remembering to tap Delete instead of Remove From Album.
If you’ve deleted a photo by accident, don’t worry, you’re still able to get it back. When a photo is deleted on iPhone, it isn’t permanently deleted initially. Instead, deleted photos will be held for up to 40 days, giving you time to recover photos that might have been removed accidentally.
If you’ve just deleted a lot of photos and you’re wondering why it hasn’t cleared any storage space on your phone yet, this is why. If you urgently need to free up that space, you can go to your Recently Deleted folder and permanently delete everything.
The Recently Deleted folder is contained in the Albums tab of Photos. Go to the main Albums menu and scroll down to Other Albums; Recently Deleted will be at the bottom of the menu. Tap Select and you can then select the photos you want deleted or recovered, or press the Delete All or Recover All buttons at the bottom of the screen to do it all at once.
Even if you’ve permanently deleted photos from your iPhone, there’s still a chance you could get them back using a Mac. Plug your iPhone in and open the Disk Drill app. Select your iPhone from the list of available drives and click Recover. Disk Drill will then scan your device for deleted files. You can preview any files it finds before selecting Recover to restore them on your iPhone.
You might find it’s easier to delete your iPhone photos from your computer. If you’re a Mac user, this is quite a simple process, although both methods are only possible if you turn off iCloud Photos syncing.
To delete photos from your phone using the Photos app, hook up your iPhone to your Mac, and open Photos if it doesn’t open automatically. A new window should open displaying your iPhone photos. Simply press Command + A to select every photo, and then press the delete button. Just like on the iPhone Photos app, your photos won’t be immediately deleted permanently, but moved to a Recently Deleted folder. Head to that folder, select all, and delete all photos permanently.
You could also use another native macOS app, Image Capture, to delete every photo from your iPhone. The process is roughly the same as with Photos. Plug your iPhone into your Mac, open Image Capture, select all photos, and hit the delete icon. This will permanently delete all photos from your device.
On Windows PC, plug your iPhone in and find it under devices in Windows Explorer. Within the iPhone folder will be Internal Storage; open that, and then open the DCIM folder within that. This folder will contain all of the photos on your iPhone. Just select which photos you want to delete, or press Ctrl + A to select all of them, and then right click and select delete, or press Shift + Del.
This will immediately remove your iPhone photos permanently, so be cautious as you won’t have an opportunity to restore anything you delete accidentally.
As mentioned, any photo or video you delete on your phone will automatically be deleted from your iCloud account if you have syncing turned on. iCloud syncing is the default setting, so it will be on unless you’ve manually switched it off. If you want to remove all your photos from both your device and from your iCloud account, you can do it by just deleting them on your phone.
It works in reverse too, so whenever you delete a photo from your iCloud it will be deleted from your device. To delete a photo or photos from iCloud, log in on iCloud.com, and go to Photos. Then, simply select all photos and press the trash icon. This is the same as using Photos on iPhone or Mac; you’ll need to go to your Recently Deleted folder to permanently delete everything.
Typically, people don’t delete photos from their iPhones because they don’t want or need them anymore. Usually, it’s just because they just don’t have the capacity on their phone to hold it all and their photo library has become a bit of a mess. But running low on space shouldn’t mean having to part ways with your precious memories, which is why making the most of cloud storage is the ideal solution.
When you save all your photos on Dropbox, they’re secure in the cloud in original quality, and you can access them from any device that has internet connection. You can keep your photos with you on the go while still saving a lot of space on your iPhone.
You can send photos directly from your iPhone to your Dropbox using the Dropbox app.
Any photos in your iPhone photos folder will then be instantly uploaded to your Dropbox. Once it’s done, you can go ahead and delete all your photos from your iPhone, clearing up lots of space in the process.
You can then be sure that all of your photos will be saved to Dropbox without your needing to lift a finger. After Dropbox automatically uploads your pictures, you’re safe to go ahead and remove all of them from your iPhone. Unlike with the iCloud Photo Library, when you delete a photo on your iPhone, it will not be automatically deleted from your Dropbox account, making it a safer, reliable option for your online photo storage library.