How to Recover Deleted Photos on iPhone

Accidentally delete an important picture? Here's the fix

What to Know

  • Open the Photos app and go to Albums > Recently Deleted. Select the images you want to save and choose Recover.
  • Select Recover Photo from the pop-up menu.
  • Photos stay in the Recently Deleted album for 30 days before they're deleted permanently.

We've all accidentally deleted a photo from our iPhone that we needed to save. Depending on a few things, you can recover deleted photos on your iPhone. Here's what you need to know. Instructions apply to all iPhone and iPod touch models with iOS 8 or later and using the pre-installed Photos app.

How to Recover Deleted Photos on the iPhone

Apple built a feature into iOS that lets you 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. If you deleted the photo you want to recover in the last 30 days, follow these steps to get it back:

  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 automatically, and permanently, removes 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. In the pop-up menu, tap Recover Photo.

  5. After you recover the photo, it will be returned to your photo library and any other albums it was stored in before it was deleted.

Other Ways to Recover Deleted Photos on iPhone

Photos stay in the Recently Deleted album for 30 days before they leave the phone for good. If you missed that 30-day window, there are still some options for recovering deleted photos. These methods are less of a sure thing, they but offer a potential way to 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, that program may have a copy of the photo you want to get back. If you find the photo there, add it back to the iPhone by syncing it through iTunes, adding it to iCloud Photo Library, or emailing or texting it to yourself, then save it to the iPhone 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 Data Recovery Tools

Some third-party programs let you dig into the iPhone file system 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 programs 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. Choose a backup that occurred before the pictures were deleted. NOTE: Restoring the device from backup also removes all other changes you made since the backup was created, so you may lose something else you need. Probably not a good trade-off for just one photo.

Prefer to hide photos from prying eyes rather than delete them (and then need to undelete them)? Learn how to hide photos on iPhone.

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