Will deleting photos from iPhone disappear from iCloud?

Quick Answers

Deleting photos from your iPhone does not automatically delete them from iCloud. To permanently delete photos from both your iPhone and iCloud, you need to delete them using the Photos app while connected to Wi-Fi. Simply deleting photos from your iPhone’s Camera Roll will remove them from your device, but keep them safe in iCloud.

With iCloud Photo Library enabled, your photos and videos are stored safely in iCloud and synced across your Apple devices. This allows you to access your entire photo library anywhere, while saving space on your iPhone.

A common question many iPhone users have is: If I delete photos from my iPhone’s Camera Roll, will they be deleted from iCloud too?

The short answer is no. Deleting photos directly from your iPhone does not remove them from iCloud. To permanently erase photos from both locations, you need to use the Photos app on your iPhone while connected to Wi-Fi.

In this article, we’ll explain in detail how iCloud Photo Library works, why deleting photos on your iPhone does not affect those in iCloud, and the right way to delete photos from both your device and iCloud storage.

How iCloud Photo Library Works

To understand how deleting photos from your iPhone impacts iCloud, it helps to first look at how iCloud Photo Library works.

With this feature enabled, every photo and video you take on your iPhone is automatically uploaded and stored in your iCloud account. This serves as a backup of your entire camera roll in the cloud.

iCloud has a limited amount of free storage space (starting at 5GB), so once you fill that up, you need to pay for additional iCloud storage to continue backing up new photos and videos.

When a photo is added to iCloud, it is made available across all your devices signed in to the same Apple ID. So you can view, edit, and work with photos from your Mac, iPad, or iPod Touch, even if they were originally taken on your iPhone.

This is what enables seamless syncing of your photo library across Apple devices. Any changes you make, like editing photos or deleting old ones, are reflected on all synced devices when they are connected to the internet.

Why Deleting from iPhone Doesn’t Affect iCloud

With this syncing process, just deleting photos on your iPhone does not remove them from iCloud.

That’s because the photos have already been uploaded and stored safely in the cloud – deleting them from the iPhone camera roll only removes the local cached copy on your device. The original remains in iCloud until explicitly removed.

So if you were to delete photos from the native Photos app on your iPhone, they would simply disappear from the camera roll on your device. But the backup copies in iCloud remain intact.

This allows you to free up space on your iPhone when needed, while still retaining access to those photos through iCloud. The photos will again be visible on your iPhone if you browse them in the iCloud Photos app.

How to Delete Photos from Both iPhone and iCloud

Now that we’ve explained how iCloud Photo Library works, let’s look at the right way to delete photos so that they are permanently erased from both your iPhone and iCloud storage.

Using the Photos App

To delete photos from both locations, open the Photos app on your iPhone and sign in to your iCloud account if prompted.

Only when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network will deletion changes sync across to iCloud, so make sure Wi-Fi is enabled before starting.

Follow these steps to permanently delete photos on your iPhone and iCloud using the Photos app:

1. Open the Photos app and select the photos you wish to delete by tapping them. You can select multiple photos.
2. Tap the Delete icon in the bottom left.
3. A confirmation prompt will appear – tap Delete Photos to confirm deletion.
4. The selected photos will be removed from your iPhone camera roll.
5. With Wi-Fi enabled, this deletion is synchronized to iCloud. The selected photos will be deleted from both locations.

Using iCloud.com

You can also delete photos permanently from iCloud via the iCloud website, rather than your iPhone. Just remember this will only remove the photos from iCloud, not the local copies on your device.

Follow these steps to delete photos just from your iCloud storage using iCloud.com:

1. Go to the iCloud website (icloud.com) and log in with your Apple ID.
2. Tap Photos to open your iCloud Photo Library.
3. Select the photos you want to remove.
4. Click the Delete icon.
5. Confirm deletion in the pop-up prompt.
6. The photos will now be erased from your iCloud storage. But they will still be present in the camera roll on your iPhone or other local device storage.

So this method is best used in combination with deleting those same photos from your iPhone camera roll if you want them gone from both places.

Other iCloud Photo Library Settings

In addition to manually deleting photos, there are some useful iCloud Photo Library settings to help manage your storage:

Optimize iPhone Storage

This setting lets you keep your full photo library in iCloud while only storing lower resolution versions on your iPhone. So you can access all your photos over the internet, but save space on your device.

Disable iCloud Photo Library

If you don’t want automatic syncing and backup of your photos to iCloud, you can turn off iCloud Photo Library in your settings. Just know this will stop all syncing of photos across devices.


To recap the key points covered in this article:

– Deleting photos directly from your iPhone camera roll does NOT remove them from iCloud storage.

– To permanently delete photos from both locations, use the Photos app on your iPhone while connected to Wi-Fi.

– You can also delete photos just from iCloud using the iCloud website, but this will not remove them from your device camera roll.

– Useful iCloud Photo Library settings include Optimize iPhone Storage and the ability to disable auto syncing.

– iCloud Photo Library provides a helpful backup of your entire photo library in the cloud. But you need to manage it properly to save on device storage.

So in summary, deleting iPhone photos does not affect your iCloud backup. To remove photos from both locations, the Photos app is the safest way to delete them while retaining other photos and videos safe in the cloud.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does deleting photos from Recently Deleted also remove them from iCloud?

No, the Recently Deleted folder on your iPhone is still only a local cache. Photos deleted from here will be removed from your device, but remain in iCloud storage. To delete from both, use the Photos app method.

What happens if I disable iCloud Photo Library?

Disabling iCloud Photo Library will stop all automatic syncing of photos across devices. Existing photos in iCloud will remain available in the cloud. But new photos will only be saved locally, not added to iCloud.

Do deleted photos count against my iCloud storage quota?

No, when photos are deleted from iCloud storage, this frees up space in your account again. So deleting photos you no longer need can help avoid having to pay for additional iCloud storage.

If I delete photos on my Mac, does that delete them from iCloud and my iPhone?

Yes, when using the Photos app on a Mac, any deletions are synced across devices, the same as on iPhone. So deleting via Mac will remove photos from both iCloud and your iPhone camera roll.

Can I recover deleted photos from iCloud?

Unfortunately no. Once photos are permanently deleted from iCloud, there is no built-in way to recover or restore them. This is why it’s important to be careful before deleting photos which you may later wish to retrieve.


The key takeaway is that removing photos directly from your iPhone does not affect the copies safely stored in iCloud. This allows you to delete images to save local device space when needed, while keeping them backed up.

To truly delete photos from both iPhone and iCloud, the Photos app is the right way to remove them from all locations while maintaining other photos intact in the cloud. Just be very careful before deleting any photos you want to keep!

Photo Deletion Method Deletes from iPhone Deletes from iCloud
iPhone camera roll Yes No
iPhone Photos app Yes Yes
iCloud.com No Yes