How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from iPhone: 7 Methods

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Recover deleted photos on iphone

We take pictures of our friends, places that we have been to, and have some of the most important moments of our lives on our iPhone. With so many important moments being captured, when one isn’t there it can be catastrophic.

Luckily, there are many ways to retrieve deleted photos on iPhone and get them back. In this article, we’re going to look at how to recover accidentally deleted photos on iPhone.

Where Do Deleted Photos Go on iPhone

Even though there’s no central Trash folder on iOS like there is on macOS, photos don’t immediately disappear when you delete them. Instead, they are moved to the Recently Deleted album of the Photos app.

Because of how the Recently Deleted album works, it may not include all photos and other image files. Many third-party apps store image files in different locations, and they don’t always handle image deletion the same way.

Method 1: Find Photos in Recently Deleted Folder

This only applies to the current Photos app, which has been deployed since iOS 8 in 2014 for iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and above.

The first place to look for deleted photos on iPhone is the Photos app. This is where all the pictures that you take are stored. You can view, share, edit, and search by photo all right from within the app. The Photos app is also very intuitively designed with a built-in recently deleted folder which makes recovering old photos a process we can accomplish in just a few steps.

Step 1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone.

Step 2. Tap on Albums and then scroll down until you see Recently Deleted, it should be right at the bottom of the list.

recently deleted

Step 3. From here, click on Select which will be in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, and tap on the recently deleted photos that you would like to recover. If you want to recover all of them, you can click on Recover All. You also have the option to delete all from within this screen.

recently deleted photos

Step 4. Click on Recover to retrieve deleted photos and then they will be put back into the All Photos view.

recovering deleted photos

Photos and videos will show the days remaining before deletion from within the Recently Deleted folder. After the time has expired, they will then be permanently deleted from your device. It may take up to 40 days for this process to complete so you have some time if you delete a photo and then realize that you want to restore it. This is the easiest way to view deleted photos on iPhone and recover them.

Method 2: Recover Photos Using Paid iPhone Data Recovery Software

If you don’t have any backups available, data recovery is your best chance at restoring your photos. Deleted data still exists in the file system, it’s just marked to be overwritten and becomes inaccessible to the user. Data recovery software can pull data directly from the file system and rebuild it so it becomes usable.

Disk Drill is a great data recovery software that we’ve mentioned a lot on this blog. It has a high recovery rate and it’s super easy-to-use,  which is why we often use it for demonstrating data recovery. It costs $89, but it’s a lifetime license so you can use the app forever.

Because it works not only for iOS but also for Android, Windows, and Mac (all in one app), and it has a very user-friendly GUI (graphical user interface), we think the price tag is worth it.

For users with a stricter budget, we’ll cover a free iPhone data recovery software in a later section – however, you’ll see that these come with their own limitations (which is why we bumped it down to #5 on the list).

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill for your computer.

Step 2. Initiate a scan by plugging your iPhone into your computer and selecting it as the device to search through.

selecting iphone for recovery

Step 3. Wait for the scanning process to complete. This shouldn’t take long but will vary depending on how much data you have on your iPhone. For my phone, it took around 20 minutes to complete and I have a lot of things stored on my device.

scan in progress

Step 4. After the scan has completed, you will be greeted by all of the found files on your iPhone. Click on the Photos icon to view the deleted photos that Disk Drill was able to recover.

recovered data screen

Step 5. Once on the recovered photos screen, we can find the deleted photos on iPhone. You can sort by name and date. Since all of my photos haven’t been named and have the default file name, I am going to sort by the date that I want to recover my deleted photos from. You can search by photo name on your iPhone here if you do know the name of it.

Step 6. Select the photos that you would like to recover and then click the blue Recover button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

recovering deleted photos in disk drill

Step 7. Choose a path for Disk Drill to restore the deleted photos to and click OK.

recovery path

Step 8. After you have successfully recovered the deleted photos, you will receive a confirmation message that the recovery is complete and the deleted photos will be restored to the location you choose on your computer.

recovery complete

Method 3: Retrieve Photos from a Music/iTunes App Backup

If you plug your iPhone into your Mac or Windows machine and have the Music app or iTunes on your computer, then there is a chance that you might have set up your phone to backup to your computer. A computer backup is another way of recovering old photos and getting them back onto your iPhone.

The backup process happens automatically each time you plug your iPhone into your computer to charge. When plugged in, it also will sync and backup. On a Mac, this app comes installed as part of the operating system and is called the Music app. On Windows, you can download iTunes for free by going to Apple’s website.

You can recover deleted iPhone photos from a backup on your computer using the Music app which is more current but if you’re using an older version of macOS or Windows then iTunes will be the app to look for. The steps are pretty much the same in both, so the steps below can be followed no matter which you’re using.

Step 1. Plug your iPhone into your Mac or Windows computer.

Step 2. Select your iPhone from the drop-down menu on the left-hand side and then click on Sync Settings….

selecting iphone music

Step 3. Once on the Summary page, select Restore Backup…. This can be found from within the General tab. You can also manage backups and backup your iPhone from within this window as well.

restoring iphone from a backup

Step 4. After clicking the Restore Backup… option, your iPhone will restore back to the backup that you selected and your recently deleted photos will go back onto your iPhone. This will take some time depending on the size of the backup. Make sure your iPhone is plugged into your computer during this whole process as it can’t be interrupted!

Method 4: Recover Deleted Photos from an iCloud Backup

When you purchase an iPhone, it asks you to set up iCloud during the initial set up so the chances are you may have enabled this without even knowing what it was as iCloud is one of the most used cloud services in the world.

iCloud will sync your data between devices but it also will make a backup of your iPhone overnight when you plug it in to charge and it’s on Wi-Fi. This is a backup of everything from text messages to contacts, and all of your pictures.

You can restore accidentally deleted photos from iCloud using one of the backups that have been created and put the data right back onto your phone.

Step 1. First, we want to back up our device should anything happen to it during the restoration process. To do that, plug your iPhone into a computer and back it up to the Music app if you’re on a Mac or iTunes if you’re on Windows.

Step 2. Once in the Music app or iTunes, choose Sync Settings….

selecting iphone music app

Step 3. Choose Back Up Now… to start backing up your iPhone to your computer. This may take some time and the phone will need to be plugged for the entire process.

back up now

Step 4. Next, we need to perform a factory reset on our iPhone so that we can go through the setup process which allows us to recover photos from an iPhone backup. To initiate the reset, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

factory resetting iphone

Step 5. When your iPhone restarts, go through the iPhone setup process and choose Restore from an iCloud backup and choose an older date from when you can last remember having the old photos on your iPhone. This will start the process of restoring photos from an iPhone backup.

restore from icloud backup your photos

Step 6. Wait for the restore to finish and then check your Photos app to see if the deleted photos have been recovered.

Note: if you have a lot of photos on your phone, then the restore can take a couple of hours depending on your internet speed so they may not show up right away. Give it some time to complete the backup and check and see if you can view the deleted photos in your Photos app.

Method 5: Recover Photos Using Free iPhone Data Recovery Software

Gihosoft iPhone Data Recovery is a freemium macOS app that can restore photos (and other data) from your iPhone. Unlike Disk Drill, Gihosoft’s app is focused only on the iPhone and has additional seamless iOS-only features like extracting data from iTunes and iCloud backups.

Unfortunately, that’s all Gihosoft’s free version can do, aside from scanning your device and showing you the local data it found. You’ll have to buy the Pro version to actually recover photos directly from your device. In other words, you’ll still need an iTunes or iCloud backup to use the free version – which is why we bumped it down to #5.

Step 1. Download and install Gihosoft iPhone Data Recovery.

Step 2. Make sure your iPhone is securely connected to your Mac, then launch Gihosoft iPhone Data Recovery (Finder > Applications).
Gihosoft iPhone Data Recovery app in the Finder Applications folder

Step 3. Select “Photos & Videos” and all the subtypes underneath it, then click “Next.”
Gihosoft iPhone file type selection

Step 4. Click “Next” again to begin the scanning process.
Gihosoft start iPhone scan screen

Step 5. Once the scan is complete, you can go ahead and click “Recover”, or you can view your photos organized by location using the left sidebar and select them individually.
Gihosoft iPhone scan complete screen

Method 6: Restore Images From Google Photos Backup

For those who backed up their data using Google Photos (for ex. users who are switching from Android to iPhone), there is unfortunately no way to restore it directly to your iPhone the way we did with an iCloud/iTunes backup. Instead, you’ll have to download them to your device. There are 2 ways to do this:

To download photos from Google Photos on a Mac:

Step 1. Log into photos.google.com and open the image you want to download.

Step 2. Click on the 3 dots on the top-right corner of the window (beside the delete button), then click “Download.”
Google Photos web download button

To download multiple photos, click the circle in the top-left corner of each photo’s thumbnail.

To download photos From Google Photos directly on your iPhone:

Step 1. Download Google Photos from the App Store.

Step 2. Launch the Google Photos app and open the photo you want to download.

Step 3. Tap the 3 dots on the top-right corner of the screen to bring up a menu.
Google Photos on iPhone

Step 4. Tap the “Download” button.
Download button for Google Photos on iPhone

To download multiple photos, tap and hold one photo to enable multiple selection. Then, tap the “Save to device” button.

Method 7: Use a Local Backup

Creating iPhone backups is a quick and easy way how you can prevent data loss in the event of an accidental deletion or even a physical device loss, and it’s also a great way to recover deleted photos from iPhone should a data loss incident really occur. On Macs running macOS Catalina and newer, iPhone backups are created using Finder, and Finder is also used to recover from previously created backups:

  1. Using a suitable USB cable, connect your iPhone to your Mac.
  2. Launch Finder and select your iPhone from the list of available locations in the left pane.
  3. Make sure that you’re in the General tab and click the Restore Backup button under Backups.click the Restore Backup button
  4. Select the most recent backup that contains your photos.
  5. Click Restore to begin the recovery process. You may be asked to enter your password.select backup and restore photos

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