How to Make Sure a Photo Is Permanently Deleted From Your iPhone

By David Weedmark

Updated August 23, 2018

Deleting Photo Stream photos wasn't an option until iOS 5.1
i John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Unlike a computer, when you delete a photo on an iPhone, it's gone for good. There's no way to go back into the trash to retrieve it again. If you have taken a personal photo you don't want anyone at the office to see, or if you've just taken a really bad photo that you'd rather forget about, you can delete the photo from the "Camera Roll" album in the iPhone's Photos app. If you have Photo Stream enabled with Apple iCloud, always remember that a copies of your photos are stored there as well, so you will also have to delete it from Photo Stream.

Deleting Photos from the Camera Roll

Tap the "Photos" app on the iPhone home screen. Select the "Camera Roll" album. If it's not visible, tap the "Albums" button in the bottom left corner of the screen to reveal it.

Scroll through the thumbnails and then tap the photo you want to delete. The photo opens and the "Trash" button appears at the bottom of the screen for about five seconds. If the buttons disappear, tap the screen to reveal them again.

Tap the "Trash" button and then tap the red "Delete Photo" button. The lid on the trash can opens and the photo spills into the trash, indicating that the photo is permanently deleted from the camera roll.

Tap the "Camera Roll" button in the top right corner. The thumbnail of the photo you deleted is gone.

Deleting Photos from Photo Stream

Tap the "Photo Stream" button in the bottom center of the screen after deleting the photo from the camera roll.

Select "My Photo Stream." Scroll through the thumbnails and tap the photo you want deleted. The photo opens.

Tap the "Trash" button and then tap the "Delete Photo" button to delete the photo from your Photo Stream.


To delete multiple photos at once, tap the "Edit" button while looking at thumbnails in an album. Tap the photos you want to delete. Each selected photo has a checkmark on it. Tap the "Delete" button and then tap the "Delete Selected Photos" button. The photos are deleted from the album.


If you have shared the photo or copied it, go through each album in the Photos app to ensure the photo was not saved to another folder as well.

If you have synced the photo to your compute since taking or saving the photo on your iPhone, remember that a copy will be on your computer as well.

Information in this article applies to iOS 6.1. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.