How to Recover Deleted Photos from an iPhone

So, you accidentally tapped on your iPhone and deleted several precious snaps? Apple iPhone makes it easy to take awesome pictures, but these pictures can also be trashed with a simple tap?

When you realize those great shots you’ve taken with friends or families are gone, panic often sets in.

Fortunately, it’s possible to retrieve deleted photos from an iPhone, through the “Recently Deleted” feature, iTunes and iCloud backup, or a third-party iPhone data recovery software.

These are the four methods we’re going to show you in this article and most of them are free.

Method 1: Restore iPhone Photos from “Recently Deleted”

Apple noticed the accidental deletion issue and thus added a “fail-safe” feature for recovering accidentally deleted media files. This built-in is called “Recently Deleted” – it’s available for iPhones with iOS 8 or later, and works to restore items deleted within 30 days.

To check what iOS version your iPhone is under, go to Settings > General > About to find out.

  • Step 1. Tap Photos from the home screen.
  • Step 2. Then tap Albums tab at the bottom.
  • Step 3. Scroll down a bit and find the folder with a trash icon called Recently Deleted.
  • Step 4: Tap the photo(s) that you want back and click “Recover.”
iphone recently deleted

That’s it. Very simple, right? Once again, this built-in iPhone media recovery feature won’t work for every scenario, especially if your pictures have passed the “30-day” grace period.

iphone recently deleted duration

If this didn’t work out for you, try other methods below.

Method 2: Recover iPhone Photos from Your Computer Backup

If you often plug your iPhone into your computer, you may have a backup right inside iTunes (Windows) or Finder (macOS).

This method only works if you’ve actually created a backup before you lost those photos, but will work even if you dropped your iPhone into the water and lost everything (or an equivalent disaster).

If your iPhone was beyond repair, you’ll want to follow these steps with a replacement iPhone. Here’s how:

Step 1. Plug your iPhone into your computer (the same one that you created the backup on).

Step 2. Open iTunes (Windows) or Finder (macOS). If there’s a pop-up telling you there’s a new version, update iTunes before trying the backup.

Step 3. Head to File > Devices > Restore from Backups. (Windows users that don’t see a file menu, access it with the Alt key).

Step 4. In the backup window, look at the list of available backups. Most likely, the most recent backup is the one that you want. But if you are looking to recover photos that you accidentally deleted a while back, you may want to choose the backup just after the date those photos were taken.

If you’re going a while back, it may be a good idea to make a backup first, so you can save those photos to your computer, then return your iPhone to the current state so you don’t lose even more files.

Step 5. Click on Restore. The process will take several minutes and will restart your phone — don’t interrupt the process or unplug the phone until the update is complete.

This video shows you how to restore iPhone data from a Mac backup.

Find your photos on your restored iPhone? Great — if not, try the next two options.

Method 3: Recover iPhone Photos from iCloud

iCloud is a convenient and often-used way to backup your images. Since iCloud backups are automatic, more users are likely to use the feature — which means there’s a better chance of getting those photos back.

The downside is that iCloud usually only works for your 1,000 most recent photos, not those older gems. There are actually two ways to recover photos from iCloud.

Restarting Your iPhone

  • Step 1. If you lose access to your photos because your iPhone was destroyed and you’re starting from scratch, this is the method for you. When you turn on the new iPhone, you’ll see the Hello screen. Follow the on-screen instructions, making sure to join a Wi-Fi network.
  • Step 2. On the Set Up Device screen, tap on Restore From an iCloud backup. Choose a backup based on the date—ideally, the most recent one, unless you are looking to recover old photos. Tap it to start.
  • Step 3. Stay connected to Wi-Fi until the process completes — big backups will take some time. When prompted, put in your Apple ID and password that you used with the iCloud backup.

Accessing iCloud Images without Restarting Your Phone (for Mac Only)

Don’t need to restart your phone? You can access iCloud images in the Photos app on your Mac.

Open the Photos app, then click the Photos menu on the upper left and select Preferences. Then, navigate to the iCloud tab. Put a checkmark in the iCloud Photo Library option.

Close the Preferences window, and your photos will automatically load, provided you use the same Apple ID on both the computer and iPhone.

While iCloud may have limited storage space, it’s automatic, so once you’ve set it up once, you don’t have to worry about plugging into a computer to back up your phone — that makes it much more likely you’ll be able to get back your lost iPhone pictures.

Method 4: Rescue iPhone Photos via Third-Party Software

Didn’t make a backup? You may still be able to recover your deleted photos using recovery software. While using the software can be a pricier solution, sometimes it’s hard to put a price on those lost photos.

Most programs will also allow you to download a free trial so you can at least see if the recovery will work before purchasing a program. There are a number of different recovery programs available, you can read our best iPhone data recovery software roundup for the most recommended options in the market.

Final Words

Losing photos can be devastating — often even more so than damaging an expensive phone. While you can’t replace your photos as easily as your iPhone, you can recover deleted pictures by using the Recently Deleted feature within iOS, an iTunes/Computer backup, an iCloud backup, or third-party software.

Have you retrieved your deleted pictures? Any other methods that you’ve tried and worked great to recover photos from the iPhone? Share with us via the comments below.

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  • Jan George

    I have deleted photos from a memory album and it has deleted the photos they are not in my recently deleted folder is there anyway I can get these back.

    I am totally devastated as this was holiday snaps taken with my 80 year old father.

    Hope you can help me.

    Kind regards
    Jan George

    • Avatar photo
      AnySoftwareTools Team

      Sorry to hear that Jan. Seems the photos have stayed in Recently Deleted for more than 30 days and got automatically deleted by iOS. You can try one of the other methods here and good luck.