How to recover deleted photos from your iPhone's Recently Deleted folder, iTunes, and more

Crystal Cox/Business InsiderYou can recover deleted photos from your iPhone in several ways.
  • You can recover deleted photos from your iPhone’s Recently Deleted folder, or from a previously stored backup.
  • There are five different ways to recover deleted photos on your iPhone; however, for a few of them you’ll need to make a backup in advance.
  • You can also backup your photos to a third-party app, like OneDrive or Dropbox, and recover your deleted iPhone photos from there.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For many people, photos are the most important data stored on their iPhone – so losing your photos can be a catastrophe.

The good news is that even if you accidentally delete some (or all) of your photos, there are a few ways to get them back.

We’ll discuss those methods, and also explain a few safeguards you can take to keep your photos ultra-secure.

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How to recover deleted photos from your iPhone

Apple provides a “recently deleted” photo folder in the Photos app, which is essentially the same as the Recycle Bin on your computer. It holds all the photos that have been deleted for 30 days.

On day 31, a recently deleted photo is deleted permanently – but until then it’s easy to recover. Here’s how to do it:

1. Open the Photos app.

2. Scroll down the list of Other Albums and tap “Recently Deleted.”

3. Tap “Select” at the top-right of the screen.

4. Select every photo that you want to return to your iPhone.

Deleted 1Dave Johnson/Business InsiderTap ‘Recover.’

5. In the lower-right corner, tap “Recover.”

If you want to recover all of the photos in your deleted folder, tap “Recover All” instead.

How to recover deleted photos through an iCloud backup

If your photos are already gone from the Recently Deleted folder, then you may be able to get your photos back by restoring your phone from a previous backup.

The disadvantage of this approach is that all of your deleted files will be recovered from iCloud Drive – apps, data, text messages, and so on – with an older backup, which you might not want to do. If the backup you want to restore is fairly recent though, it might be worth it.

If you use iCloud to back up your phone, follow these steps. If you use iTunes, skip down to the next section.

1.Back up your phone to iCloud so that if something goes awry, or you don’t like the content of the older backup and are willing to give up the photos, you can return to your current configuration.

2. After the backup is complete, perform a factory reset, and then restore your phone from a backup that’s old enough to include the photos you have lost.

3. When the restore is complete, check the Photos app to see if the photos you lost were recovered. If not, you can repeat the process and restore an older backup, or return to your most recent backup.

If the older backup has the photos you’re looking for, but you don’t like the rest of the older version, you can try emailing the photos to yourself or uploading them onto an external cloud service (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), and then returning your phone to its later version.

How to recover deleted photos from an iTunes backup

Most people now use iCloud to backup and restore their phone, but if you’re still using iTunes for this, then restoring from a backup is pretty straightforward.

1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac with macOS Mojave or earlier, or your PC, and then click the iPhone icon when it appears in the upper-left corner of the iTunes window.

2. Click the “Summary tab” in the pane on the left.

3. In the “Backups” section, click “Restore Backup…”

Deleted 2Dave Johnson/Business InsiderIf you still use iTunes to back up your phone, you can use the Restore Backup button to return to an older version of your files before the photos were deleted.

4. Choose the backup you want to restore your phone to.

5. When the restore is complete, check the Photos app to see if the photos you lost were recovered. If not, you can repeat the process and restore from an older backup, or return to the most recent backup.

How to recover deleted photos using Finder in macOS Catalina 10.15 or above

1. On your Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or above, open your Finder.

2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac computer.

3. Click on your device in the left hand menu when it appears.

4. Click “Restore Backup…”

5. Select which backup date you’d like to use.

6. Click “Restore.”

How to recover deleted photos with a cloud storage service

Finally, if you use a cloud service like Dropbox or OneDrive, you have an ace in the hole. These services let you automatically create a separate backup of all your photos, independent of iCloud and iTunes, which are then synchronised with a folder on your computer.

If you don’t already use one of these, you should. You can install the Dropbox or OneDrive app for your iPhone, and easily configure both of these apps to back up your photos. They’re automatically backed up to the cloud (and to your desktop computer) in the background, with no effort required from you.

Deleted 3Dave Johnson/Business InsiderBy turning on these options, Dropbox becomes one of several cloud storage apps that can make an independent backup of your photos.

If you have a cloud backup of your photos thanks to a service like Dropbox or OneDrive, you can easily restore them to your phone.

1. Open the folder on your computer that includes the backed up photos from your iPhone.

2. Also open your iCloud Photos collection in a web browser.

3. Drag the photos that you want to restore from the folder to the browser. They will automatically be uploaded to iCloud, and soon thereafter synced with your iPhone.

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