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Key Points

  • You may want to know how to delete all photos from an iPhone if you have purchased an old phone, are selling a used phone, or have photos that you no longer want.
  • First, use the iPhone photo selection tool to add images for deletion.
  • Follow the steps below to also remove the photos from the cloud permanently.

Photos and videos take up the most space on our iPhones. So, if you’re trying to reclaim storage space, your Photo Library may be the first place to go. Selecting individual photos is viable, but deleting all your images will free up the most space.

The issue lies in the fact that Apple doesn’t grant you a “Select All” option to delete all your photos at once. That means you must resort to other, less-known methods to delete all photos from your iPhone permanently.

Whether you’re reclaiming space, changing your device, or selling it, this guide will show you how to delete all photos from your iPhone permanently. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

#1: Delete All Photos on Your iPhone

Your iPhone allows you to delete photos individually or in bulk through the Photos app. Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1: Select the Photos

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Selecting photos from the Library.

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To delete all the photos on your iPhone, open the Photos app on your device. Tap the Library option on the lower-left section of the screen to see all the photos on your device. Next, click the Select option in the upper right corner of the screen. This will allow you to select the photos you want to delete.

Since you want to delete all photos from your iPhone, scroll to the last photo in your photo library. Lightly tap and hold the last photo, drag it to the left, and up to the top of the screen.

Your finger should end up on top of the clock in the upper-left corner of the screen. This is a singular action, and you need to keep your finger on the screen until all the photos are selected.

Please note that this might take a while, especially if you have a lot of photos. Once all the photos are selected, you can lift your finger off the screen and proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Delete the Photos

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Locating the Trash bin icon.

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With all the photos selected, tap the Trash Bin icon—located in the bottom-right section— to delete all the photos. A confirmation message will pop up, asking you to confirm the desired action.

To confirm, tap Delete XX Items (where XX is the total number of selected photos). Once you’ve confirmed the action, all the photos on your iPhone will be deleted, including your iCloud Storage.

However, this isn’t the end. Smartphones such as iPhones have a section of their storage dedicated to Recently Deleted files. This allows you to retrieve all the files you might’ve deleted accidentally. All the photos you just deleted can still be accessed from within the Photos app for the next 30 days.

Step 3: Permanently Delete Photos

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Deleting photos manually.

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After the 30-day period, your iPhone automatically deletes all the Recently Deleted files. To delete them manually, go to the Photos app, tap Albums, and then scroll down to the Recently Deleted album. After that, repeat the selection process described in Step 1 and tap Delete All in the lower-left corner of the screen.

A pop-up confirmation box will appear, notifying you that this action isn’t reversible and asking you to confirm. To confirm, tap Delete XX Items (where XX is the total number of selected photos). Please note that, depending on your settings, this action removes the same photos from iCloud Photos.

#2: Delete Photos from iPhone But Not iCloud

Newer iPhone devices have iCloud Photos turned on by default. Apple implemented this feature to preserve storage space on your device and secure images in case your device gets damaged. This means that the device is in sync with the iCloud servers and automatically saves every photo and video you make.

But this also means that all the photos you delete from your phone are automatically deleted from iCloud. Unless you turn off iCloud Photos. To delete the photos on your iPhone, but preserve them on iCloud, do the following:

Step 1: Disable iCloud Photos

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Selecting the Optimize iPhone Storage option in the settings.

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To disable iCloud Photos, open the Settings app, scroll down and tap Photos to open the Photos-related settings. There are two options below the iCloud Photos toggle: Optimize iPhone Storage and Download and Keep Originals. Select Optimize iPhone Storage.

Next, tap the toggle for iCloud Photos located near the top of the sub-menu. The toggle should turn from green to gray, indicating that the option has been disabled.

Step 2: Remove from iPhone

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Removing photos from the iPhone, but keeping them in the iCloud.

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Disabling iCloud Photos will trigger a security pop-up. Its purpose is to ask you whether you want to Remove from iPhone, or Download Photos & Videos. Choosing the former option will remove all optimized photos from your iPhone but keep the originals on iCloud.

This also means that any future photos you take will be saved on your iPhone’s internal storage. After that, you can proceed to delete all the photos from your Photos app, as described in the previous method.

Step 3: Don’t Reconnect

This method has a massive drawback if you use iCloud on a single device. If you reconnect your Apple ID with your iCloud Photos, the service will automatically update to match your phone.

And since you deleted all the photos from your phone, iCloud will clean the slate. This is why using a different cloud backup for your photos is strongly recommended.

#3: Delete Photos from iCloud and iPhone

Alternatively, you can disable iCloud Photos entirely and delete the photos stored on cloud servers. Luckily, Apple grants its users a 30-day grace period during which users can download their content before it is irreversibly deleted. Here’s how to delete photos from iCloud:

Step 1: Back up Your Photos

This is an entirely optional step but one worth considering, especially if you’re switching devices or selling your iPhone. In case you’re switching from one iPhone to another, we recommend you check out our guide on How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to iPhone.

Regardless of the reason, deleting photos from your devices and iCloud storage permanently is an irreversible decision. After the 30-day grace period expires, you won’t be able to recover your photos.

That’s why it’s highly recommended that you back up your photos by transferring them to a computer or another cloud service.

Step 2: Disable iCloud Photos

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Selecting the Download and Keep Originals option in the settings.

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Just like with the previous method, open the Settings app, scroll down and tap Photos to open the Photos-related settings. There are two options below the iCloud Photos toggle: Optimize iPhone Storage and Download and Keep Originals. Select Download and Keep Originals.

This will download all the original files from your iCloud Photos to your phone. Since we’re deleting all photos permanently, this isn’t exactly a welcomed option, but we’ll circle back to it later.

Next, tap the toggle for iCloud Photos located near the top of the sub-menu. The toggle should turn from green to gray, indicating that the option has been disabled.

Step 3: Delete the Photos from iCloud

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Selecting iCloud in the Settings app.

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With iCloud Photos disabled, you want to go into your iCloud storage to delete all the photos contained there. To do this, open the Settings app, and tap on your name to access your Apple ID settings. Next, scroll past the personal, security, and billing information options at the top, and tap on iCloud.

On the iCloud screen, tap on Manage Storage near the top of the screen to enter the iCloud Storage management screen. Then tap on Photos, followed by Disable & Delete.

You may get a confirmation prompt notifying you that some of the phones from iCloud weren’t downloaded to your iPhone. But since we’re deleting all photos permanently, just tap on Continue Anyway.

Apple still grants an additional 30-day grace period, during which it’s safe to access your iCloud storage via the web or iCloud macOS app to retrieve the photos. However, after 30 days have gone by, your photos will be permanently deleted from your iCloud.

Step 4: Delete the Photos from Your iPhone

Since we selected Download and Keep Originals in Step 2 of this method, some photos might’ve downloaded to your iPhone’s internal storage. Just repeat the steps described in method #1 to delete all the photos from your iPhone. Once you’re finished, congratulations; both your iPhone and iCloud are free of any photos.

How to Backup Your Photos Before Deleting Them

Since you can’t actually reclaim the photos once you’ve deleted them permanently, it’s a good idea to back them up. Several methods can be used to back up your photos before they’re permanently lost.

Third-party cloud storage is probably the best choice, as it allows you to upload and save your photos automatically. OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox are the most viable alternatives to iCloud.

OneDrive offers the most in terms of flexibility, security, and productivity options. Google Drive is the most viable option for free-plan users, as it offers a fantastic 15GB of storage free of charge.

Just download and install any of the aforementioned apps on your iPhone. Then configure them to automatically save your photos to cloud storage. This will allow you to access your photos from both your iPhone and other internet-capable devices. Additionally, it will also act as a backup for your iPhone’s photos.

The alternative is to manually back up the photos by transferring them to your Windows PC or macOS computer. There are numerous guides online on achieving this, but the most common ways imply using a USB connection.

Final Thoughts

As seen in this guide, there are several methods you can employ to delete all photos from your iPhone permanently. And while all the aforementioned methods are viable, the first method is the easiest to execute. The second method cleans your device’s internal storage while retaining backups on iCloud.

Method number three is perhaps the most complex, but it ensures that all photos are permanently deleted. Please note that this action is irreversible following the conclusion of a 30-days grace period.

Up Next

How to Delete All Photos From iPhone Permanently FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are deleted iPhone photos really deleted?

When you delete photos and videos, they go to your Recently Deleted album for 30 days. After 30 days, they’ll be permanently deleted.

Why are photos still on my iPhone when I deleted them from iCloud?

Photos on your iCloud are the backup of photos on your iPhone. So when you delete them from iCloud, they won’t be deleted from your iPhone.

Can anyone see my deleted photos?

Cybercriminals and hackers can gain access to personal information stored in your computer even after you think you’ve deleted the files.

Where do pictures go when you delete them permanently?

Pictures are eliminated from your device and cloud storage once permanently deleted.

Can the pictures be recovered?

Pictures can’t be recovered once the 30-day grace period granted by Apple has expired.

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  • Macworld Available here: https://www.macworld.com/article/673877/how-to-delete-photos-from-iphone-without-deleting-from-icloud.html
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