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How to delete all photos from your iPhone or iPad

Goodbye, unwanted photos!

How to delete all photos from your iPhone or iPad

Maybe you've just had a bad breakup and want to (figuratively) burn your old memories away for good. Or maybe you've already transferred your Apple Photos to Google Photos, iDrive or another cloud storage tool and don't need duplicate files clogging up your phone storage.

Whatever your reasons, you can delete all of your photos from your iPhone in one fell swoop. Your selfies, pictures of your cat's Halloween costume, and all those screenshots you forgot to delete can be a thing of the past.

Needless to say, this means all your photos will be gone – really gone. So consider whether this is the right option for you based on your needs. Without much further ado, let's see how to clear your photos from your iPhone or iPad.

Free up your iPhone’s internal storage with this cloud storage solution

iPhones have a tendency to fill up fast with photos and other files and while you could delete them outright to free up space, why not store them securely in the cloud instead with a cloud storage provider like iDrive.View Deal

How to delete all photos from 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 2000 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!