Does Apple photos have recycle bin?

Apple Photos is the default photo management and editing application on Macs and iOS devices. It provides a range of useful features for organizing, editing, sharing and printing photos.

One key feature that many users look for in a photo management app is a recycle bin – a place where deleted photos can be recovered, in case they were removed by accident.

So does Apple Photos have a recycle bin? Let’s take a closer look at how deletion and recovery works in Apple Photos on Mac and iOS.

Deleting Photos in Apple Photos

When you delete a photo in Apple Photos on Mac, it is moved to the Recently Deleted album. This album acts as a recycle bin, holding deleted photos for 40 days before they are permanently erased.

To access the Recently Deleted album, click Albums in the sidebar and you will see it listed there. You can browse through deleted photos and recover any you want to keep by selecting them and clicking Recover.

After 40 days, photos in Recently Deleted are permanently deleted. There is no further recycle bin or recovery option at that point.

Deleting on Mac

To delete a photo on Mac, you can right-click it and select Delete Photo or press the Delete key. You can also delete photos by dragging them to the Trash icon in the toolbar.

The photo will be moved to Recently Deleted and kept for 40 days before being removed forever.

Deleting on iOS

On iOS devices, tapping and holding on a photo brings up a menu with Delete Photo as an option. Tap it to delete the photo.

As with Mac, the photo will go to Recently Deleted where it can be recovered for up to 40 days.

Recovering Deleted Photos

To recover deleted photos within the 40 day window:

On Mac

1. Click Albums and go to Recently Deleted.
2. Select the photos you want to recover.
3. Click Recover to move them back to All Photos or the original album.

On iOS

1. Go to Albums > Recently Deleted.
2. Tap Select.
3. Choose the photos to recover.
4. Tap Recover.

Recovering photos brings them back to the All Photos album or their original album.

If you want to permanently delete photos from Recently Deleted before the 40 day window is up, select them and click Delete in Mac or tap Delete in iOS.

Does Apple Photos have a Permanent Recycle Bin?

Unfortunately, beyond the 40 day window that Recently Deleted provides, Apple Photos does not have a permanent recycle bin for deleted photos.

Once photos are removed from Recently Deleted, either manually or after 40 days, they are gone for good. There is no further on-device recycle bin or recovery option.

This is different from some other photo apps like Google Photos that keep trashed items for 60 days in a bin before final deletion.

So if you delete an important photo in Apple Photos and don’t notice until after 40 days, you won’t be able to get it back from within the app.

Why Apple Photos has no Permanent Recycle Bin

There are a few reasons why Apple may have chosen to not include a permanent recycle bin feature in Photos:

– Encourages manually backing up irreplaceable photos elsewhere, like iCloud or external drives.

– Avoids cluttering up storage space with old deleted photos that aren’t likely to be recovered.

– Streamlines the interface by not having multiple deletion stages to track.

– Assumes Recently Deleted will catch the majority of accidental deletions within 40 days.

Alternative Ways to Recover Deleted Photos

Since there is no permanent recycle bin in Apple Photos, what can you do if you delete a photo and don’t notice until after 40 days when Recently Deleted has cleared?

Here are some options to try recovering deleted photos beyond the Photos recycle bin window:

Restore from Backup

If you have your photos backed up to iCloud or an external drive, restoring from the backup should return any photos even if deleted from Photos.

This requires having an up-to-date backup – so regular backups are essential.

Photo Recovery Software

There is specialized photo recovery software that can scan your Mac or iOS device storage and find traces of deleted image files.

Popular tools include Stellar Photo Recovery, EaseUS Photo Recovery, Disk Drill, and iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

They can recover photos even if permanently deleted from Apple Photos. But results vary and original quality is not guaranteed.

Contact Apple Support

In some cases, Apple’s customer support can help recover deleted photos, depending on the situation. Especially if you have an iCloud backup they can access.

Contact Apple Support to inquire if they have any options to assist in photo recovery efforts after deletion from Apple Photos.

Preventing Loss of Photos

Since Apple Photos does not have a permanent recycle bin, follow these tips to prevent losing important photos:

Back Up Regularly

– Back up your photo library to iCloud or external drives regularly. This provides recovery options if photos are deleted from Photos.

Use Recently Deleted

– Check Recently Deleted album periodically for any photos you may want to recover within the 40 day window.

Confirm Deletions

– Exercise caution when deleting photos. Confirm selections before deletion to avoid accidental loss.

Export Important Originals

– Export or back up original versions of irreplaceable photos, in case edited copies are lost.

Consider Other Apps

– If you need a permanent recycle bin, consider using a photo management app other than Apple Photos that offers this feature.

Does Apple Photos for iCloud have a Recycle Bin?

The Apple Photos for iCloud service that stores your photo library in iCloud also has a limited recycle bin feature:

– Deleted photos are kept for 40 days in the Recently Deleted folder.
– They can be recovered during this period.
– After 40 days, photos are permanently deleted with no further recovery option.

So just like on-device Apple Photos, the iCloud Photos service has 40 days of recidivism via Recently Deleted but no permanent recycle bin after that.


To summarize the key points:

– Apple Photos has a limited Recycle Bin called Recently Deleted.
– Deleted photos stay in Recently Deleted for 40 days before final removal.
– They can be recovered during the 40 days.
– After 40 days, there is no recycle bin and deleted photos are permanently gone.
– Make sure to back up photos elsewhere in case they are deleted from Apple Photos.

So in essence, Apple Photos does have a temporary recycle bin, but no permanent recycle bin after the 40 day period that Recently Deleted provides. Be sure to back up your photos and exercise caution when deleting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Apple Photos have a trash folder?

Yes, Apple Photos has a trash folder called Recently Deleted that stores deleted photos for 40 days before final removal. It acts as a temporary recycle bin.

Can you recover permanently deleted photos from Apple Photos?

Unfortunately no, once photos are deleted from Apple Photos and removed after 40 days from Recently Deleted, they are permanently deleted and cannot be recovered within Photos itself. You would need to restore from a backup or try third party software.

How long are deleted photos kept in Apple Photos?

Deleted photos are stored in the Recently Deleted folder for 40 days after deletion. After 40 days, they are permanently removed with no further recovery options within Apple Photos.

Is there a way to recover photos deleted over 40 days ago in Apple Photos?

Since Apple Photos does not have a permanent recycle bin, the only options are to restore photos from a backup, try third party recovery software, or contact Apple support to see if they can assist in recovery efforts. But there are no guarantees photos can be recovered if permanently deleted from Photos over 40 days ago.

Where do permanently deleted photos from Apple Photos go?

When photos are permanently deleted from Apple Photos after being removed from Recently Deleted, the files are no longer stored anywhere on the device or in iCloud. They are completely erased unless recovered from a backup done prior to deletion.

Deletion Stage Recoverability
Deleted from Albums Recoverable from Recently Deleted up to 40 days
Deleted from Recently Deleted before 40 days Permanently deleted with no recourse
Deleted from Recently Deleted after 40 days Permanently deleted with no recourse


Apple Photos provides a temporary recycle bin with the Recently Deleted folder that retains deleted photos for 40 days. This allows recovering accidental deletions within that window.

However, once photos are removed from Recently Deleted after 40 days, they are permanently deleted with no further on-device recycle bin or recovery options.

To protect irreplaceable photos from potential permanent loss, the best practice is to regularly back up your photo libraries to alternate locations like iCloud or external drives. This provides recovery capability even if photos are deleted from Apple Photos beyond Recently Deleted.

Exercising caution when deleting photos can also prevent regrettable loss of important memories and images. Overall, while limited compared to some other apps, the 40 day Recently Deleted functionality does provide a valuable safety net against accidental deletion in Apple Photos.