How to Recover or Undelete a Photo on the iPad

Yikes! Get acquainted With iPad's Recently Deleted folder

ipad photo

 Screenshot by author

Have you ever accidentally deleted a photo on your iPad? It's easy to make this mistake, especially when using the Select button to delete multiple photos at the same time. However, if you've updated your iPad in the last few years and you deleted the picture during the last 30 days, you can undo your mistake.  

Apple introduced the Recently Deleted folder in the Photos app with the iOS 8 update, which all iPads except the original can run. Even if you have an iPad 2, which can no longer run the latest version of the operating system, you can still follow these directions as long as it runs iOS 8 or later.

Instructions in this article apply to all iPads (except the first generation) that run iOS 8 through iOS 12.

How to Retrieve a Deleted Photo

  1. Tap the Photos app on the iPad Home screen or launch it quickly using Spotlight Search.

  2. Tap Albums at the bottom of any screen.

    Selecting Albums view at the bottom of the Photos app screen
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the Albums screen and tap Recently Deleted in the Other Albums section.

    Albums view in Photos app
  4. Locate the photo you want to restore. The Recently Deleted album holds deleted photos for up to 30 days before permanently deleting them from your iPad. Each photo is labeled with the number of days before it is permanently deleted.

    Recently Deleted folder in iPad Photos app
  5. Tap the photo you want to restore to select it and then tap the Recover button at the bottom right corner of the screen. Verify your choice by tapping Recover Photo to undelete the image.

    Recover Photo confirmation in iPad Photos app

You can also permanently delete a selected photo by tapping the Delete button. There is no going back from this selection, so only use it if you know you definitely don't want the photo stored on your device.

How to Recover Multiple Photos 

When you don't have an individual photo selected, tap the Select button at the top-right corner of the Recently Deleted screen to enable the multiple selection mode. Tap each photo you want to restore and tap the Recover link at the top of the screen.

You can also permanently delete multiple photos using this method. 

Do You Have My Photo Stream Turned On?

Apple has two photo sharing services for its devices. The iCloud Photo Library service uploads photos to iCloud, which allows you to download the photo on another device such as an iPhone. When you delete a photo from your iPad or iPhone, it also deletes it from iCloud Photo Library.

My Photo Stream is the other service provided by Apple. Instead of uploading the photos to a library of files on iCloud, it uploads them to the cloud and then downloads them on each device automatically. This is important because photos you delete on one device may still exist on one of your other devices if you have My Photo Stream turned on in the iPad's settings.  

If you cannot locate a deleted photo in the Recently Deleted album and have My Photo Stream turned on, check your other devices for a copy of the image.