Do iphones have a recently deleted folder?

Quick Answer

Yes, iPhones do have a recently deleted folder where deleted photos, messages, notes, and other data are stored for up to 30 days before being permanently erased. This provides a window of opportunity to recover accidentally deleted items if needed.

Overview of the Recently Deleted Folder on iPhones

The recently deleted folder on iPhones, also sometimes referred to as the “trash folder,” is essentially a temporary holding place for any data that the user deletes from the device. When you delete something on an iPhone, such as photos, messages, notes, contacts, calendar events, and more, it isn’t immediately gone forever. Instead, iOS moves the deleted data to the recently deleted folder.

Items in the recently deleted folder remain there for up to 30 days, taking up storage space on the device during that time. After 30 days, iOS automatically permanently erases items from the recently deleted folder to free up storage capacity. This system gives you a month-long window to recover anything you may have accidentally or incorrectly deleted.

What Data is Saved in the Recently Deleted Folder?

The recently deleted folder can contain deleted data from many apps and features on your iPhone, including:

  • Photos – Deleted photos and videos from the Photos app.
  • Messages – Deleted text conversations from the Messages app.
  • Notes – Deleted notes from the Notes app.
  • Contacts – Deleted contacts from the Contacts app.
  • Calendar events – Deleted events from the Calendar app.
  • Voice Memos – Deleted voice memos from the Voice Memos app.
  • Apps – Deleted apps.
  • Safari browsing history – Deleted browsing history and data from Safari.

Essentially, the recently deleted folder temporarily stores deletions from many major apps and features on the iPhone. This gives you time to recover the data if needed before it’s permanently erased.

How to View and Recover Recently Deleted Items on iPhone

Viewing and recovering deleted items from the recently deleted folder is easy to do. Here are the steps:

View Recently Deleted Items

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap General.
  3. Scroll down and tap Recently Deleted.

This will open the list of recently deleted items. You will see deleted items grouped into categories like Photos, Contacts, Calendars, Notes, Messages, and more.

Recover Recently Deleted Items

To recover a deleted item:

  1. Tap the category that the item you want to recover belongs to.
  2. Find the item you want to recover and tap Recover to restore it.

The selected item will be moved back to its original location on your iPhone, such as back to your photo library or notes.

Permanently Deleting Items from the Recently Deleted Folder

If you have no need to recover a deleted item before it’s automatically removed after 30 days, you can choose to permanently erase individual items from the recently deleted folder to free up storage space sooner. Here’s how:

  1. View the list of recently deleted items as explained above.
  2. Tap Edit in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap the circle next to each item you want to permanently erase.
  4. Tap Delete in the lower right corner.

The items you selected will be immediately and permanently erased, freeing up storage capacity on your device.

Changing the 30-Day Deletion Period for the Recently Deleted Folder

By default, items remain saved in the recently deleted folder for 30 days before being permanently erased by iOS. However, you can customize this period in the Settings app:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud.
  2. Tap Manage Storage.
  3. Tap Choose next to Recently Deleted.
  4. Select the length of time you want items to remain recoverable.

You can choose anywhere from 1 day up to 4 weeks. Setting a shorter period will free up storage space faster, while a longer period gives you more time to recover deleted items if needed.

Permanently Disabling the Recently Deleted Folder

For those who want to have deleted items permanently erased immediately rather than saved to the recently deleted folder, it is possible to disable the recently deleted feature entirely. When disabled, deleting something will permanently remove it right away with no 30 day window to recover.

Note: Only disable this feature if you are certain you don’t need the capability to recover accidentally deleted items.

To permanently disable the recently deleted folder:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud.
  2. Tap Manage Storage.
  3. Tap Delete under Recently Deleted.
  4. Disable Recently Deleted and confirm.

This will immediately and permanently clear the recently deleted folder and disable the feature going forward. Any new deletions will be permanent with no recovery period. Re-enabling Recently Deleted from the same menu will turn the feature back on.

Clearing Out the Recently Deleted Folder

If storage space on your iPhone is getting low, one way to help free up capacity is by manually clearing out the contents of the recently deleted folder. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Recently Deleted.
  2. Review the list of deleted items and tap Delete All.
  3. Confirm that you want to permanently erase all the items stored in Recently Deleted.

This will immediately clear all contents from the recently deleted folder and permanently delete those items to make more storage available on your iPhone. Just be certain you don’t need to recover anything before manually deleting all items.

Recently Deleted vs Backups

It’s important to understand that the recently deleted folder on your iPhone is separate from any backups you may have of your data through iCloud or iTunes. The recently deleted folder only retains items for up to 30 days before permanent deletion. But backups create longer term snapshots of your data that can restore information even if it’s been previously deleted from your phone and the recently deleted folder.

So always be sure to maintain good backups of your iPhone through services like iCloud or iTunes. Backups give you the capability to restore data that has long been deleted from Recently Deleted, while the 30 day window in Recently Deleted is more useful for catching deletions that only happened recently. The two features complement each other.

Recently Deleted Folder on Other Apple Devices

The recently deleted folder is a feature found across Apple’s ecosystem of devices, not just limited to iPhones. For example:

  • iPad – Like on iPhone, deleted items on an iPad are stored in a recently deleted folder for up to 30 days.
  • Mac – On Mac computers, the recently deleted folder is accessed through Finder. Deleted items are stored for 30 days.
  • Apple Watch – Apple Watch has a Recently Deleted album in the Photos app to store deleted photos. There is no recently deleted folder for other data like messages.

So the recently deleted feature spans across many of Apple’s products. It provides a temporary holding place for deletions with a window of time to recover items if needed.

Recently Deleted vs Trash on Android

On Android devices, there is a similar feature to the recently deleted folder known simply as the trash. When something is deleted on an Android phone or tablet, it goes to the trash where it can remain for 30 days before being permanently erased.

The trash feature works very similarly to the recently deleted folder on iPhones. So both major mobile operating systems have this capability to help users recover accidentally deleted items within a certain time period before the data is gone forever. It provides a useful safety net.


In summary, the recently deleted folder is a very useful feature on iPhones and other Apple devices. It gives you a 30 day period to recover items that may have been deleted accidentally or in error. Messaging threads, photos, notes, contacts and other data remain recoverable during this period before being permanently removed by the system.

Checking and managing the recently deleted folder from time to time is recommended. Make sure to recover anything you need before the 30 day window expires. And consider shortening the deletion period or manually clearing out the folder if you are running low on storage capacity and don’t need to access the deleted items.

Just be aware that the recently deleted folder is not a replacement for maintaining good backups of your data through services like iCloud and iTunes. Backups provide long-term protection and the ability to restore data deleted long beyond 30 days.

But overall, the recently deleted folder is a very helpful and convenient feature that gives iPhone users a second chance to retrieve their data if they’ve deleted anything too hastily. It’s one of the many ways Apple helps customers avoid permanently losing their personal information and memories.