How to delete all photos from your iPhone or iPad

How to delete all photos from your iPhone or iPad

Learning how to delete all photos from your iPhone or iPad is a useful skill to have and the good news is, it's super easy to do! For a lot of us, our iPhones and iPads are filled to the brim with photos and clearing them out is the only way to free up much needed space.

If you have the best iPhone of the best iPad, having it on hand to take photos is probably one of its main uses. But let's face it, those memories are also major hogs when it comes to storage space and unless you've got the latest model, chances are that you don't have as much storage capacity as you'd like.  

Whether you've already backed them up on iCloud, iDrive, are using Google Photos backup, or relying on some other form of cloud storage, chances are at one time or another you're going to want to delete all photos from your iPhone or iPad - particularly if you're needing to reclaim a lot of space in a hurry. 

Regardless of the reason why you're needing to free up storage space, you'll find everything you need to know in this guide to help you remove all the photos from your mobile Apple device, so you don’t have to wander aimlessly through random iOS menus trying to figure it out.

We want to stress though that once you've followed the steps below and have deleted your photos, they'll be gone for good, so make sure you have backed them up first if you're wanting to keep hold of these precious memories. Once you've done that, you'll find this article super helpful in guiding you through the process for how to delete all photos from your iPhone or iPad. 

How to delete all photos from your iPhone

Apple no longer allows you to automatically select 'All Photos' and delete them. Yet there is a relatively easy way to select and erase them all, in a process that shouldn't take more than a minute or two.

A prompt asking if I really want to delete over 2600 photos

I'm not deleting my 2700 photos, but I'll show you how to delete yours (Image credit: Future)
  1. Open the Photos app
  2. In the Library tab, select All Photos in the navbar at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap Select in the top right.
  4. From the bottom-right photo, quickly slide your finger left to the bottom-left photo, then straight up to the top of the screen. You'll see blue checkmarks appear next to each photo, and you'll slowly select each photo in your library. Don't hold your finger down too long or swipe straight upwards; this will cause you to move the photo instead of selecting it.
  5. To speed things up, use a finger from your other hand to swipe downward repeatedly. This will let you select thousands of photos in a matter of seconds.
  6. Once you've selected your entire library, tap the trash can icon in the bottom right, then tap 'Delete X photos.'
  7. Select the Albums tab, then scroll down to Utilities to find Recently Deleted photos. Once again, hit Select and scroll up to highlight every photo. Tap Delete in the bottom-left corner, then 'Delete X Photos' to permanently remove them.

If you own an iPad, you can follow the same steps above to delete all the photos on your tablet.

Keep in mind that if you opt to delete photos from Recently Deleted, this can't be undone. Otherwise, your photos will sit in that folder for 30 days, giving you time to change your mind if you start feeling regrets.

Also, if you back up your photos to iCloud, they'll disappear from your cloud storage as soon as they're deleted from your phone. Technically, you can get around this by disabling iCloud photo storage before deleting the photos, but once you reactivate the feature, those photos will immediately vanish.

The screenshots category in Apple Photos

I don't need my old phone screenshots, and neither do you. Here's how to dump 'em. (Image credit: Future)

How to delete all iPhone photos of a particular person, file type, or location

Deleting all of your iPhone photos is pretty drastic. Maybe you want to delete a lot of old photos you don't want anymore, but save some of them. If that's the case, there are some easy methods for deleting photos by specific categories.

Let's start with that breakup scenario. Apple's AI does a pretty good job of recognizing repeated faces in your photos, so you can easily delete all Apple Photos that include the one person you'd rather forget.

Tap the Search tab, and you'll see headshots of your most commonly photographed subjects; or, check the People & Places section of the Albums tab. Choose the person you're cutting out of your life, then tap 'See All' next to the X Photos section. You can then Select and toss them all using the same finger-swiping method as before. 

You can do the same thing with specific places if a particular city has become toxic to you, assuming your photos are geotagged; just hit Search, tap one of the auto-generated Places, then choose 'See All' to find, select, and delete everything.

Finally, you can delete by category. Scroll to the bottom of the Albums tab, where you'll be able to mass-delete all of your old screenshots, previously hidden photos, unflattering selfies, or other categories.

A close-up of a Delete key on a Macbook Pro

(Image credit: Future)

Using a Mac to delete all photos from your iPhone

If you're invested in the Apple ecosystem and are using a Mac as well as an iPhone, you can use iCloud to ensure that any changes to your Mac Photos library will manifest on your iPhone. 

This means if you delete your photo library on your Macbook or iMac, they'll vanish from your iPhone – as long as both devices are linked to your iCloud photo library.

Head over to the Photos app on your Mac, open the Library tab and click any photo. Press ⌘A to select them all. Hit backspace, then hit Return when asked if you're sure you want to delete them all.

With that, your entire photo library will be sent to your 'Recently Deleted' tab. Open that tab, type ⌘A again, then delete them once and for all. 

Hey presto, all of those photos are gone, and you've freed up precious space on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and iCloud account simultaneously. Better get to making some new memories!

Michael Hicks

Michael Hicks began his freelance writing career with TechRadar in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars. Nowadays, he works as a staff editor for Android Central, but still writes occasional TR reviews, how-tos and explainers on phones, tablets, smart home devices, and other tech.

With contributions from