How to Recover Deleted Photos from iPhone

Accidentally delete an important picture? Here's the fix

Upset young girl using mobile phone on sofa
Milkos / Getty Images

It can be easy to accidentally delete a photo from your iPhone that you actually needed to save. If you've deleted a photo that you need to hold onto, you may be worried that it's gone forever. But depending on a number of factors, you can recover deleted photos from your iPhone. Here are a few options for how you can do this.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 8 and later.

How to Recover Deleted Photos on the iPhone

Apple built a feature into iOS to help us recover deleted photos. The Photos app has a Recently Deleted photo album. This stores your 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, and then go to the Albums tab and scroll down to find Recently Deleted.

    Recover recently deleted photos iPhone screenshot
  2. This photo album contains all the photos you've deleted in the last 30 days. It shows each photo and lists the number of days that remain until your iPhone will delete it.

    Tap Select in the top-right corner. Select the photos you want to save by tapping on them, and then tap Recover.

    To delete the photo(s) right away and free up storage space, tap Delete in the bottom left.

    Recover deleted photos on iPhone screenshot
  3. In the pop-up menu, tap Recover Photo. The photo will leave Recently Deleted and returns to your Camera Roll and any other albums it was a part of before you deleted it.

Other Options to Recover Deleted Photos

Photos only stay in Recently Deleted for 30 days before they leave your phone for good. But you still have a couple of options outside of this window.

These methods are less of a sure thing than the first approach, but if you're desperate, they might work.

Desktop Photo Programs

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

Cloud-Based Photo Tools

If you use a cloud-based photo tool, you may have a backed-up version of the photo there. You have a lot of options in this category, including iCloud and Dropbox. You can also check social networks like 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 your iPhone to get it back. 

Third-Party Recovery Tools

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

Restore Your iPhone

This solution is drastic, but when you back up your iPhone, it also saves all of the pictures in the Camera Roll. You can get photos you've "lost" by restoring your device from an earlier backup. It's a little bit like taking your iPhone back in time to before you got rid of the pictures. But it will also remove other changes you've made since then, and you may lose something else you need.