How to Mass Delete Images and Photos in Bulk on iPhone, iPad


So you’ve got a bajillion photos, images and video on your iPhone and iPad and you gotta un-catch ‘em all. Oh, sorry, too much Pokemon on the brain.

Anyway, maybe you’re trying to clear up space (hello 16GB iPhone and iPad users) or simply want to erase all your pics but can’t figure out a way to highlight all your images for easy deletion. Hey, you’re not the only one. Although Apple provides an easy option to do so when permanently erasing all photos in your “Recently Deleted” album, the option is curiously absent for your regular Camera Roll, at least as recently as iOS 9.

What’s up with that Apple?

The good news is that you actually have a way to bulk select photos — well, sort of — on your phone or tablet in case, you don’t want to do it by connecting to a computer, using a third-party app or jailbreaking your device. Admittedly, it’s not quite as convenient as the selection method for the Recently Deleted album but it’s still better than manually highlighting hundreds of photos one by one.

Still interested? Here’s how you do it in just a few easy steps.

Step 1

First, you’ll want to launch the “Photos” app. That would be the rainbow-looking flower app (ooh, colors…). The app is usually located between the Calendar and Camera apps on your stock iPhone home screen or between the Mail and Music apps on the stock iPad home screen. Well, at least that’s where they are in my devices. Anyway, just tap it, baby.

Step 2

Once the Photo app is launched, you should see two icons at the bottom.

“Photos” will be on the left while “Album” will be on the right. You want Photos, which is the icon with two overlapping rectangles, so go ahead and tap that as well.

Step 3

Now you’ll find yourself in the “Moments” view, which groups your photos by the day or date that they were taken. You will notice that each grouping will have the option to “Share” on their right.

Anyway, ignore that for now and take a look at the upper right of the screen instead. You will see an option for “Select,” which is just to the left of the magnifying glass icon for folks using iOS 9. Tap on it. Did you just notice something? If you answered, “It turned the ‘Share’ options to ‘Select,’” then give yourself a gold star. If you answered “Mmmm, pancakes,” well, I can dig that, too. I mean, pancakes are awesome, dude.

Step 4

To batch highlight the photos, go ahead and start tapping on “Select” for each group. Depending on how many days worth of photos you have, this’ll either take a few seconds or longer. It’s not as quick as a one-time select option but it’s still better than nothing. If there happens to be a photo inall those groups that you don’t want to erase, just tap if after everything is selected and the image will end up being deselected. Easy peasy.

Step 5

Once you’ve selected the images you want to nuke from existence on your device, you’ll notice that the trash can icon on the bottom right of the screen on iPhone or top left of the iPad is now highlighted. Tap on it and you will get a prompt asking if you really want to delete the highlighted photos. Tap “Delete (No.) Photos and say buh-bye to your images.

Tying Loose Ends

“Wait, Jason,” you ask. “I deleted the photos but it didn’t free up storage on my iPhone/iPad! They’re still taking up space! By the way, did I mention that your pants are on fire?”

There’s a good explanation for that, my friend. See, in case you make a mistake or regret erasing that awesome shirtless selfie of yours that no one else seems to appreciate, Apple automatically places your photos in the “Recently Deleted Items” folder.

To access it, open the Photo app once again but this time, tap “Albums” on the lower right instead. There, you will see the Recently Deleted folder. Tap on it.

Fortunately, all you need to do this time is just tap on “Select” at the upper right and it’ll give you the option to either “Delete All” or “Recover All” at the bottom. To erase everything, you’ll naturally want to tap Delete All. Otherwise, you can either recover everything or just highlight the precious half-naked selfie, er, photo that you want and just recover the one photo if you like.

Now, sometimes, you might delete some photos on, say, your iPhone (or even do it while connected to a computer) and notice that it still didn’t free up any memory. I know because this happened to me a few times on my old iPhone 4 and once on my iPhone 6. This, sadly, is a bug that can happen occasionally. Because we all know that the best thing about an Apple device is that “it just works.” Until it doesn’t. There are several ways to fix this but personally, I’ve used two methods. One involved buying a program called iExplorer for my PC, which I then used to find the zombie files while my phone was connected to my computer to take them out. Another way I was able to rectify this was by simply applying a new iPhone update when it was available.

For more tips, including for older iOS devices, check out the following articles:

Jason Hidalgo a Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too.

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