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How to recover deleted photos from iPhone's backup, memory...

iPhone's Camera Roll stores all your favorite photos, but what happens when you accidentally delete some (or all) of them? Here're ways how to recover deleted photos.

Alex Griffith Updated on Apr 25, 2023 6:20 PM

Your iPhone's Photos library already has hundreds and thousands of photos there and is still storing more pictures from your daily use. Deleting unwanted ones is helpful if you're running a low storage space, and it's easy to do that.

But you probably accidentally deleted photos that you want to retain in the process of cleaning up Photos app library. When this happens, how can you recover deleted photos from your iPhone? If the phone is not backed up, is it possible to restore deleted pictures on iPhone, and where do you even start?

The good news is that whether or not the photos are backed up to iCloud's storage or desktop based iTunes/ Finder folder before they're deleted— Apple's way for backing up iPhone, there are a few different ways to recover deleted photos from iPhone with or without backup. If you're lucky enough, you can even recover some of other types of files.

Also see: What to do when iPhone is on Apple logo loop

It's possible recover photos deleted from iCloud backup, iPhone memory, iTunes, Finder and cloud service.

Apple offers several ways for iPhone users to recover deleted photos. You're able to restore iPhone from an older iCloud (or iTunes) backup to get deleted photos back to Photos app, or recover deleted photos from your iPhone's Recently Deleted album if they're still in there.

If both places won't contains your photos, you may recover deleted iPhone photos without backup by scanning the device flash memory with a third-party tool, iOS Data Recovery for example. Some of you might install third-party cloud app on the phone to back up photos, like Google Photos or Dropbox. This may also help you find deleted photos on iPhone.

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Now, let's take a close look at all those ways on how to get your photos back.

How to recover deleted photos from iPhone's Recently Deleted folder

Apple introduces a "Recently Deleted" photo folder as an additional security mechanism in the Photos app to retain photos that have been deleted for 30 days. It works as a Trash can on your Mac, ensuring you can easily recover deleted photos back to iPhone once you change your mind.

Before the 30-day period is exhausted which gets the recently deleted photo deleted permanently, you can access the folder and restore it easily. Here're steps to follow.

1. Tap Photos app to open it.

2. In Album tab, scroll down to the bottom of the page until you see Recently Deleted, tap it.

3. Tap Select on the upper right corner.

4. You can get a counter on each photo that displays how many days are left for a recently deleted photo being permanently deleted. Select the photo(s) that you want to retrieve.

5. Tap Recover on the lower right corner. If you want to restore all deleted photos from the folder, don't choose any of item here, tapping Recover All and everything is back.

6. Select Recover [number] Photos when prompted.

Your deleted pictures should reappear on its original location in Photos app soon.

How to recover permanently deleted photos on iPhone without backup

If your deleted photos happen to be in the Recently Deleted album, restoring them is definitely easy and straightforward. What do you do if the photo is deleted permanently from there? Thankfully, iOS Data Recovery, an excellent third-party file recovery utility, has an advanced memory-scan algorithm that makes it possible and easy for you to recover permanently deleted photos on iPhone without backup. It scans the phone flash memory deeply to search for recoverable photos, and other files like contacts, texts, notes, videos, voice memos and recovers them quickly. Here's how it works.

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Step 1: Connect your phone to the computer and run iOS Data Recovery. It will quickly recognize your iPhone and prompt you to scan it with "Start Scan" button. Click it to proceed.

Step 2: Wait for the program to scan phone flash memory for deleted photos. Once it's complete, you will get an overview window where results are organized into sensible categories.

You can take a preview of all photos found from the iPhone memory in "Camera Roll," "Photo Stream" and "Photo Library" tabs under Media category. To narrow down your search, you can turn "Only display the deleted item(s)" option on at the top center of the screen.

Step 3: Check the small box beneath the picture you want back and click "Recover" button. When a file-saving dialog box pops up, specify a path on your computer to store the recovered iPhone photos.

That's it! You then can import the photos from computer folder you specify before to your iPhone Photos app.

Not just scanning the phone memory, the program is even capable of accessing backup in iCloud and iTunes and selectively retrieve files inside it. We will discussion this later.

Related: How to fix a disabled iPhone

How to recover photos from iCloud.com

1. On your computer, go to iCloud.com using any of your browser.

2. Sign in with your Apple ID or password. You might also need to enter verification codes your receive if you enable two-factor authentication for your iCloud account.

3. Click Photos > Recently Deleted in the sidebar.

4. Select the photos you want to restore from the list, then click "Recover" at the upper right corner of the page.

If you have iCloud Photos enabled on your computer, iPad, or old iPhone, you might also try to check the Recently Deleted photo folder in Photos app on these places to recover photos deleted in the past 30 days.

How to restore deleted pictures by restoring iCloud backup

The next option you should take is check your iCloud to see if there are older backup you can restore deleted photos from.

Go to Settings > [Your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup. There you can have a look at when iCloud creates the last backup. If you don't see "Last successful backup" there, that means your iPhone isn't backing up to the iCloud. Please skip down to the next method.

Restoring iPhone from iCloud backup allows recovering deleted photos. This, of course, has its caveat. Your current content will be erased and replaced with all the files archived in the older backup from iCloud — apps, contacts, notes, texts, videos, settings and so on. It's possible to lose a lot of data that adds into your device since the backup date. Luckily, you have option to avoid this, keep on reading.

If you enable iCloud to back up your iPhone automatically or back it up manually before the deletion, check the instructions below to learn how to restore permanently deleted photos from iCloud backup to iPhone.

1. Before restoring your iPhone from iCloud, we highly recommend you head over to Settings > [Your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup and click "Back Up Now" to back up your phone.

2. Then, restore the iPhone to factory settings: Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

3. After the phone is reset, set it up as new and select "Restore from iCloud Backup" when you reach to Apps & Data page.

4. Sign in to your iCloud and pick up the older backup that includes the photos you deleted.

Once the restore is end, open the Photos app to see if all deleted photos are recovered on iPhone. Hopefully everything is back now.

Don't want to wipe your data and restore the phone to a state of the older iCloud backup before you are fairly sure the deleted photos are there? iOS Data Recovery does a decent job for this. It gives the flexibility to access the backup you have in iCloud and iTunes (or Finder) and see what files are inside. You then decide which files to retrieve. Here's how.

1. Run the iOS Data Recovery on your computer, and then click "Recover from iCloud" tab on the left sidebar from its interface.

2. Enter your iCloud drive with your Apple ID and password.

3. Select "Photos" file type from the list and iCloud Backup, followed by "Start" button. Wait for the scanning process to complete.

4. Preview the deleted photos from your backup and recover them.

How to restore deleted photos through an iTunes backup

Yes, not everybody loves iTunes. But if you're a fan of iTunes and make use of it to manage and back up your iPhone regularly, you can try to restore your photos from an iTunes backup. As with iCloud to backup and restore your iPhone, the process will overwrite everything newer than the backup.

1. Update the iTunes to the latest version if it's available.

2. Connect your phone to your PC or Mac with macOS Mojave or earlier, then select your device icon from the upper left corner of the iTunes window when it appears.

3. Head to Summary tab.

4. Click "Restore Backup" under Backup section. iTunes may prompt you to disable "Find my iPhone." Do it as required.

5. Select the backup you want to restore from in the list, and then click "Restore".

Here's a tip. If you have more than one backup stored in your iTunes, you don't have to repeat the restore process until you find the deleted iPhone photos. How is this possible? Resort to iOS Data Recovery. It allows you to extract just the deleted photos from iTunes backups without a full restore. This is very handy if you don't want to lose files currently on your iPhone.

1. Run iOS Data Recovery on your PC or Mac that you used to back up the phone with iTunes. It automatically detects the backups in the machine and displays them in the screen.

2. Select a backup from the list and click "Start Scan."

3. View the results and restore the deleted photos onto your computer.

4. Transfer your deleted photos from computer back to iPhone.

5. Repeat the process to scan all of your backups to search for deleted photos and retrieve them. [Related: How to fix a frozen iPhone]

How to recover photos using Finder in macOS 10.15 or above (iPhone backup needed)

Apple phases out iTunes since macOS Catalina 10.15 and takes Finder app in charge of backup tasks instead. Here's how to get deleted photos back on iPhone through Finder in newer macOS.

1. Use a Lightning cable to plug the device into Mac and launch Finder from the dock.

2. Select the iPhone icon when it appears beneath the Location in the sidebar.

3. In General tab, click "Restore Backup."

4. Follow the instructions to complete the restore process. As with iTunes method, you can also use iOS Data Recovery program to pull just the photos backed up in the Finder and get back to your iPhone.

How to retrieve deleted photos on iPhone from a third-party cloud storage

So you have tried to restore deleted photos through iCloud backup or iTunes backup but unfortunately the pictures were not backed up, now what? Your last chance of restoring pictures on iPhone is check to see if you have a cloud backup of your photos in a third-party cloud storage app such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Photos.

These services always allow you to sync and back your iPhone photos up to their cloud servers, independent of iCloud and iTunes, and includes a Trash album to keep the photos you delete for a certain period of time. Within the period, you can easily restore the deleted pictures to your iPhone. [Also see: How to recover deleted iMessages from iPhone]

Here's how to get back pictures you deleted on your iPhone using Google Photos, you may have a similar process for photo restore from other cloud based services.

1. Open Google Photos app on your iPhone.

2. Tap "Library" tab at the bottom, and then select "Trash." You have up to 60 days to recover the photos from there before they are permanently deleted.

3. Tap "Select" at the upper right corner of the page.

4. Select the photos you want to restore.

5. Tap "Restore."

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