Can you recover fully deleted photos on Apple?

Recovering deleted photos on Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, and Mac is possible in some cases. When a photo is deleted on an Apple device, it isn’t immediately wiped from existence – there is a window of opportunity to recover recently deleted photos before they are permanently overwritten. The exact recovery method depends on how the photos were deleted, what device they were on, and how much time has passed.

How Photo Deletion Works on Apple Devices

When you delete a photo on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, the file isn’t instantly removed from your device’s storage. Instead, the operating system simply marks the space occupied by the photo as available for new data. The actual photo data remains in place until new data overwrites it. This is what gives you a chance to recover deleted photos.

There are a few key factors that determine whether deleted photos can be recovered:

  • Time – The longer since deletion, the lower your chances of recovery. New data can overwrite your photos at any time.
  • Device type – iPhones store less data than Macs, so overwritten photos are harder to get back.
  • Storage capacity – The more storage space available, the longer deleted files persist.
  • Device use – Heavy device use increases the chance of overwritten photos.

Essentially, you want to act quickly after deleting photos and before the device writes new data to the same storage sectors. The next sections cover your photo recovery options based on the Apple device type.

Recovering Deleted Photos on iPhone

There are a couple options for recovering recently deleted photos on an iPhone:

1. Restore from Backup

If you have an archived iPhone backup from before the photos were deleted, you can fully restore your device and photos from that backup. Connect the iPhone to a computer, open iTunes, and restore from the backup. All data including the deleted photos will be restored.

The downside is that you’ll lose any new data created after the backup. So this only works if you have a backup from right before the deletion.

2. Use iPhone Data Recovery Software

Third-party iOS data recovery software is designed to retrieve deleted files like photos and messages directly from an iPhone. The software scans the iPhone storage for residual data from deleted files. Here are some top options:

Software Key Features
Tenorshare UltData Recovers 30+ data types including photos, messages, and WhatsApp history. Easy one-click recovery.
iMyFone D-Back User-friendly interface. Flexible scanning for selective file recovery.
iSkysoft Toolbox Advanced scanning modes for maximum recovery chances. Preview photos before recovery.

This method can recover recently deleted photos without overwriting existing iPhone data. But it depends on how much time has passed since deletion. For best results, run the software as soon as you realize important photos were deleted.

3. Try iPhone Tricks

There are a couple “tricks” that may work right after photo deletion, before the device has time to overwrite the files:

  • Camera Roll Trick – Access the Recently Deleted album in Camera Roll immediately after deletion. Recover photos from here before they are permanently removed.
  • iCloud Trick – If you have iCloud Photos enabled, deleted photos may still exist in your cloud storage for up to 40 days. Check to view or restore deleted photos.

These tricks only work briefly after deletion and won’t recover overwritten photos, but may help in a pinch if you notice immediately that photos are gone.

Recovering Deleted Photos on iPad

The iPad offers similar photo recovery options as the iPhone when it comes to restoring from backup, using data recovery software, and trying quick iPad tricks:

Restore iPad from Backup

Connect the iPad to a computer and restore from an archived iTunes or iCloud backup that contains the deleted photos. This will completely erase the iPad then reload its data from the backup.

Use iPad Photo Recovery Software

Run data recovery software to scan iPad storage for residual data from deleted photos. Top programs like iMyFone D-Port Pro or Fonelab work similarly to iPhone recovery apps. Just connect the iPad and scan its storage for recoverable photo data.

Try Photo Tricks

On a recently deleted iPad photo, try accessing the Recently Deleted folder in Photos app or checking iCloud Photo Library for the missing pictures before they have time to be fully overwritten.

The larger the iPad’s storage capacity, the longer you have to fully recover deleted photos using one of these methods. But it’s always best to act fast, ideally within hours of the initial deletion.

Recovering Deleted Photos on Mac

Here are some options for retrieving deleted photos on a Mac computer before they are gone for good:

Restore from Time Machine Backup

If your Mac is set up with Time Machine backups, you may be able to restore deleted files like photos from an archived system backup containing the files prior to deletion. Use the Time Machine interface to browse backups and restore specific files that have been deleted.

Recover from Trash

On Macs, deleted files sit in the Trash folder for 30 days before being purged. Check the Trash to see if your photos are still there, then restore them to their original location.

Use Mac Photo Recovery Software

Mac programs like iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery can dig deep into your storage drives and recover deleted photos that may not exist in Time Machine or Trash. This software scans drive sectors for residual photo data and lets you restore unsaved image files.

Try Photo Utilities

Some Mac utilities like Disk Drill include extra photo recovery features like scanning for lost partitions and reconstructing unsaved image files from fragments. Test the free trial versions of Mac utilities to see if they can locate traces of your deleted pictures.

On Macs, SSD drives make recovery more difficult than traditional hard drives. So recovering deleted photos may depend on the type of internal storage in your Mac. In general, it’s easier to retrieve deleted files from hard drives.

Can You Recover Photos Deleted from Recently Deleted Folder?

Here’s some additional detail on recovering photos deleted from the Recently Deleted folder in Apple’s Photos app:

  • iPhone – Deleted pictures are stored in Recently Deleted for 30 days, after which they are permanently lost as space is overwritten.
  • iPad – Stores deleted photos for 40 days before purging from Recently Deleted.
  • Mac – No set retention period, but deleted items are typically removed within a month.

So you do have a grace period to recover photos deleted from Recently Deleted on Apple devices. But time is limited, so try data recovery methods quickly. After the retention period, deleted photos on Apple devices are likely gone for good.

Can You Recover Photos After Factory Reset?

Performing a factory reset or restore on an Apple device erases all its data, including photos. The only way to potentially restore photos after a factory reset is if you have a backup from before the reset that includes the deleted pictures. Options include:

  • Restore iPhone/iPad from archived iTunes or iCloud backup.
  • Restore Mac from Time Machine backup.

Backups are the only option since a factory reset wipes your entire device and overwrites all its data. Without an old backup, photos and other files are essentially impossible to recover after a factory reset.

Tips for Recovering Deleted Photos on Apple Devices

To maximize your chances of recovering deleted photos from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, keep these tips in mind:

  • Act quickly – The sooner you attempt recovery, the better.
  • Avoid overwriting data – Don’t save new files until recovered.
  • Turn off iCloud Photos – Stops remote deletion of photos.
  • Don’t reset or restore – This overwrites your data.
  • Enable backups – They provide photo restoration options.

While you may get lucky recovering older deletions, try to reclaim photos within a day or two for the best results. Avoid anything that writes new data before attempting recovery.

Can You Recover Photos Without Backup?

It is possible to restore deleted photos without an iCloud or iTunes backup, but options are limited. You can attempt:

  • iPhone/iPad recovery software.
  • Mac data recovery programs.
  • Tricks like iCloud photo stream.

However, these methods depend on deleted photos not being fully overwritten. The success rate is higher within the first day or two after deletion. Backup restoration is generally the most reliable recovery option.


While challenging, you can sometimes recover deleted photos on iPhone, iPad, and Mac if you act quickly and avoid overwriting data. Restoring from backup is the most dependable approach. But data recovery software, utilities, and tricks can also retrieve unsaved photos – success depends on many factors.

In general, it’s smart to:

  • Enable regular device backups.
  • Use data recovery software when needed.
  • Recover photos ASAP after deletion.

Following these tips will maximize your ability to restore lost photos on Apple devices, even without backup.