How to Recover Deleted Photos from iPhone

Accidentally delete an important picture? Here's the fix

Delete with focus on return button overlaid with binary code

daoleduc / Getty Images

It can be easy to accidentally delete a photo from your iPhone that you needed to save. If you deleted a photo that you need to hold onto, it's not gone forever. Depending on a number of factors, you can recover deleted photos from your iPhone. Here are a few options for how to do this.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running iOS 8 and later.

How to Recover Deleted Photos on the iPhone

Apple built a feature into iOS to recover deleted photos. The Photos app has a Recently Deleted photo album. This stores deleted photos for 30 days, giving you time to restore them before they're gone for good.

  1. Tap the Photos app to launch it.

  2. Go to the Albums tab, then tap Recently Deleted.

    Recover recently deleted photos iPhone screenshot

    The Recently Deleted photo album contains photos deleted in the last 30 days. It shows each photo and lists the number of days that remain until the iPhone deletes it.

  3. Tap Select, tap the photos you want to save, then tap Recover.

    To delete the photos right away and free up storage space, tap Delete.

    Recover deleted photos on iPhone screenshot
  4. Tap Recover Photo.

  5. Find the photo in the Camera Roll and other albums it was stored in before it was deleted.

Other Options to Recover Deleted Photos

Photos stay in Recently Deleted for 30 days before they leave the phone for good. But you have a couple of options outside of this window. These methods are less of a sure thing but offer an alternative way to potentially restore photos if you don't find them in the Recently Deleted album.

Desktop Photo Programs

If you sync the photos from the iPhone to a desktop photo management program such as Photos on the Mac, there may be a copy of the photo you want to get back saved there. In this case, search for the picture. If you find it, add it back to the iPhone by syncing it through iTunes or emailing or texting it to yourself, then save it to the Photos app.

Cloud-Based Photo Tools

If you use a cloud-based photo tool, there may be a backed-up version of the photo there. You have a lot of options in this category, including iCloud and Dropbox. Also, check social networks such as Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook if you posted the image to one of your feeds. If the photo you need is there, download it to the iPhone to get it back.

Third-Party Recovery Tools

Some third-party programs let you dig into the file system of an iPhone to find hidden files, browse deleted files that are still hanging around, or comb through old backups. Because dozens of these programs exist, it can be hard to assess their quality. Spend some time with your favorite search engine to find applications and read reviews. Most of these tools cost money, but some may be free.

Restore Your iPhone

When you back up an iPhone, it saves the pictures in the Camera Roll. You can get photos you lost by restoring the device from an earlier backup. It's like taking the iPhone back in time. Choose a backup that occurred before the pictures were deleted. Restoring the device also removes other changes you made since then, and you may lose something else you need.