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4 Ways to recover permanently deleted photos on iPhone

Check out these proven tips to recover permanently deleted photos from iCloud backup, iTunes, Finder, iPhone flash memory, and cloud-base storage service.

Alex Griffith Updated on Nov 30, 2022 8:12 PM

iPhone automatically ships with a Recently Deleted album in Photos app out of the box. You can use this album to search for photos you deleted in the past 30 days and restore them to original location quickly if required. After the period has expired, though, your photos will be deleted permanently from iPhone.

Most of us have been in the situation where we wanted to recover the photos deleted by mistake, and they're not seen in Recently Deleted folder. If you've felt that pain, don't sweat it. It's still possible to recover permanently deleted photos from iPhone with a bit of work. Here's how to do it.

Also see: How to unlock iPhone that says disabled connecting to iTunes

Permanently deleted photos can be recovered on iPhone, depending on iCloud, phone memory, iTunes backup and other cloud services.

What to know:

  • You're able to recover permanently deleted photos on your iPhone with an iCloud or iTunes backup.
  • It's also possible to scan the iPhone memory to recover permanently deleted photos by using a dedicated iOS recovery tool, but you need to do it as soon as possible.
  • If you have a cloud backup of your permanently deleted photos stored in third-party cloud server such as Google Photos or Dropbox, you can easily restore them to your iPhone.

Recover permanently deleted photos from iPhone without backup

Let's first assume you are in the case that you don't have backup of the phone anywhere, neither with iCloud, iTunes nor in 3rd-party cloud storage services. You can try to recover your permanently deleted photos from iPhone by scanning its flash memory.

Typically, when the deleted photos are removed from Recently Deleted folder, they still stay in your phone flash memory and the space they originally occupied is made available for use. As soon as the new data overwriting to there, your deleted photos are permanently gone.

So, the key point here is don't save anything to your iPhone and perform a photo recovery process. The quicker you take action, the more chance you can get your deleted photos back.

1. Download and install iOS Data Recovery on your computer. It provides users with sophisticated and advanced scanning capabilities that will recover deleted photos and other types of files (contacts, text, notes, call history, videos, etc) that are not overwrote.

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2. Connect your iPhone into computer with a lightning cable and run iOS Data Recovery. When it's recognized, press "Start Scan" to initial scanning process on your flash memory. This may several minutes, depending on your phone capacity.

3. Once the scan process is finished, the recovered files, including your photos, will be in multiple categories located in the left sidebar of the screen. You may have a preview of found pictures before deciding which ones you want to recover.

4. Now come the last step. Simply check the boxes near the photos you want back, and click "Recover" button in the bottom right corner to save the deleted photos to computer hard drive.

5. Transfer photos from computer to iPhone.

iOS Data Recovery also comes with two additional features for files recovery, letting you pull just the data you want from your iCloud backup or iTunes backup without overwriting your whole iPhone. If you have a backup where the deleted photos exists, you can try this feature.

Also see: How to transfer music from iPhone to iTunes

Video Tutorial: How to Recover Permanently Deleted iPhone Photos

Recover permanently deleted photos on iPhone with an iTunes backup

If you've set your phone to sync and backup to computer when connecting to iTunes, you may try doing a full restore of your iPhone from a recent backup to recover permanently deleted photos.


  • Once you implement a full restore process, iTunes backup will put your iPhone back to the time of the backup which recovers your deleted photos but, at the same time, erases everything that is added after that time.
  • You can try iOS Data Recovery mentioned above to extract just the deleted photos from the backup. It doesn't touch your existing content.

To restore permanently deleted photos with iTunes:

1. Connect your iPhone into the computer where has your backup, and open iTunes. You may need to open Finder instead if you're using a Mac with macOS 10.15 or above.

2. Click on the phone icon at the top of the screen when it appears and choose Summary from the menu on the left pane. In Finder app, go to General tab instead.

3. Click "Restore Backup."

4. Select a recent backup from the list. Your permanently deleted photos should reappear on your iPhone Photos app.

If you don't want to lose more current files while restoring from iTunes backup to get deleted photos, you may go with iOS Data Recovery. Here's how to do.

1. Run the program on your computer. All your available backups will display in the window automatically, along with information of when they are created.

2. Select a backup there and click "Start Scan."

3. When it finishes the scan, preview the results and recover your photos. You can repeat the process to scan other backups until you find your photos. This is handy especially if you're not sure which backup has your permanently deleted photos.

How to recover permanently deleted photos from iCloud

iCloud is an Apple's cloud service that lets users backup and restore their iPhones. As long as you backed up your phone to iCloud server when you still had the photos you wanted, you can recover permanently deleted photo from your iPhone using iCloud.

1. Open Settings app, and select your Apple ID card.

2. Tap iCloud > iCloud Backup. Make sure you have a recent backup of your iPhone in iCloud.

3. Go back to Settings.

4. Tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings > Erase Now to reset your iPhone to factory settings.

5. When your iPhone reboots and present you with the initial welcome screen, go through the normal setup steps.

6. As soon as you see Apps & Data screen, choose "Restore from iCloud Backup."

7. Sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID and password to access your backups.

8. Select the backup that contains your permanently deleted pictures from the list.

9. Wait for iPhone to finish restoring from iCloud backup.

How to get permanently deleted photos back with a cloud storage service

If all else fails, you have your last chance: check from third-party cloud-based storage service. Independent of iCloud and iTunes, there are a lot of third-party cloud services from the web offering sync and some level of backup of your photos.

If you've ever installed a cloud app, such as Google Photos, OneDrive, Dropbox on your iPhone, there may be a backup of your photo library uploaded to the provider's server. You may check the cloud app to see if your permanently deleted photos stay there or in its Trash can. In addition, don't forget to check the special folder (Dropbox folder for example) the app created on your computer where might include the backed up photos from your iPhone.

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