Tip: take this extra step after deleting items in Photos for iOS and OS X

By , Nov 24, 2015

Photos Mac iPhone iPad teaser 001

A lot of people make a common mistake, believing they have freed up storage space on their device after deleting a bunch of photos and videos in the Photos app.

In reality, deleting a photo or video doesn’t immediately free up storage space. That’s because Photos on iOS and OS X tucks all deleted items under a special album for 30 days.

This is for your convenience, so you can undelete items if you change your mind later on. In short, items aren’t immediately removed from your device upon choosing Delete in Photos.

In this brief tutorial, we’re going to lay out a few extra steps you should take in order to get rid of deleted items in Photos forever and really gain some additional storage lost to unwanted photos and videos.

About Recently Deleted album

As mentioned, deleting a photo/video from a moment/album in Photos for iOS/OS X places the item in the Recently Deleted album on the device. This happens regardless of whether you’re using iCloud Photo Library or not.

With iCloud Photo Library turned on, however, an item deleted on one device gets placed in the Recently Deleted album on that device, as well as on all your others that are iCloud Photo Library-enabled.

If iCloud Photo Library is disabled on a device, deleted items are moved into the Recently Deleted album on that device only.

How to clear Recently Deleted items in Photos for iOS

Step 1: Launch Photos on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.

Step 2: Tap the Album button in the tab bar alongside the bottom, and then tap on the album titled Recently Deleted.

Step 3: Now tap the Select button.

Step 3: To immediately delete all your recently deleted items, choose Delete All.

Photos for iOS clear Recently Deleted items iPhone screenshot 001

You will see a warning message informing you that clearing items from this album cannot be undone.

Step 4: If you’re certain that you wish to proceed, confirm your action by tapping the Delete x items button.

Tip: You can cherry-pick specific items in the Recently Deleted album before choosing Delete. To recover all items, choose Recover All. Or, select only specific items you wish to undelete and tap on Recover to bring them back.

How to clear Recently Deleted items in Photos for OS X

Step 1: Launch Photos on your Mac.

Step 2: Click Albums in the window’s title bar.

Step 3: Now double-click your Recently Deleted album.

Step 4: To immediately delete all your recently deleted photos and videos, click the Delete All button.

Photos for OS X clear Recently Deleted items Mac screenshot 001

You will be warned that clearing your Recently Deleted album cannot be undone (unless you use Time Machine, in which case you can restore deleted items from your automatically created backups).

Tip: You can also select specific items to permanently delete/recover from Deleted Items, or choose Recover to undelete them all in one fell swoop.

Want to see more tips and tutorials like this one here on iDownloadBlog?

Submit your own tutorial ideas and how-to suggestions to tips@iDownloadBlog.com.

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  • dpacemaker

    I make Shared Photo Stream Albums, then put them all on a external drive, then I delete them all. This way I still have them all on my device without using storage, or my iCloud storage. The stream albums don’t count against the storage you have on your device or in iCloud.

    • nodnarb1129

      I have been looking to do something like this. Can you explain in a little more detail what you do? Sorry, I was kind of confused by the first sentence. If I can save storage space on my iPhone and iCloud, then I am down to give it a go.

      • dpacemaker

        Yeah it is pretty simple. Rahn below explained it well and simply.

    • rahnolds

      Unfortunately you’ll run into some hard limits on Photo Stream Albums. While it’s true they don’t count against your iCloud storage, you will only be able to be subscribed to 100 total albums, with additional photo limits (and rates) therein, when using shared photo streams. More info here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202299

      Setting it up is pretty straight forward @nodnarb1129. Select all the Photos/Videos you want to move into a Shared Album in the Photos app then hit Share, select iCloud Photo Sharing, tap Shared Album at the bottom of the pop-up, then either add to an existing album or use the top entry to create a new one. Voila.

      • dpacemaker

        Those limitations are not that bad, especially since some albums are generic. Like “Kids”, or “Family”. The limitations could come into play, but so far I have like 15 albums each with almost 200 pics in them. By the time the limitation starts to possibly be an issue for me I’m sure another solution will be easily available. This is all my experience though, obviously others will have a different experience.

    • GlobalH

      Question: How are the iCloud Photo Shares not included against the storage on your device? At a minimum there is a Thumbnail and low resolution copy? I just tested my phone in Airplane mode and all the photos that I put in the Shared Album are still available on my device. Therefore they must be taking up storage space on the device. (I did delete the photos from my main Camera Roll.) Or is only a small thumbnail and low res photo being stored?

      • dpacemaker

        Yeah if you select a photo you will see a circle in the bottom right corner showing it pulling up the full res photo, but it isn’t stored on the device, but in the cloud. I don’t know why it isn’t counted against your iCloud storage, but I had 18gb of photos and put them in shared photo streams, deleted them and my iCloud storage opened up. I know have 50gb so it will be a while before I need to make a new stream or add to my existing. There are limitations as posted by someone else below.

  • Hi

    Is there a way/jailbreak tweak to disable recently deleted

    • (JailbreakQA) King Shoot

      NoRecentlyDeleted, DeleteForever and SimplerPhotos can do this.