Will deleting photos from iPhone disappear from iCloud?

Many iPhone users rely on iCloud to store photos and videos taken with their devices. iCloud automatically uploads photos and videos from an iPhone to the cloud, allowing them to be accessed from other devices signed into the same iCloud account. This provides a convenient way to store and access media across multiple devices.

A common question for iPhone users is whether deleting photos or videos directly on the iPhone causes them to be deleted from iCloud as well. The short answer is yes, deleting photos/videos on your iPhone does delete them from iCloud Photos. However, there is a bit more nuance to understand about this process.

How iPhone and iCloud Photos are Synced

The key to understanding how deletions work between iPhone and iCloud is knowing how Apple handles syncing photos between devices. Here are the key points:

  • When enabled, iCloud automatically uploads photos/videos from a user’s iPhone camera roll to their iCloud Photos library.
  • This syncing process happens over WiFi and when connected to power.
  • The iCloud Photos library contains all photos synced from a user’s iOS devices and any photos uploaded via iCloud.com.
  • Edits or deletions made on one device are synced across all other devices over time.

So in essence, iCloud serves as the central repository of photos from a user’s Apple devices. Any changes made on the iPhone like deleting photos will sync to iCloud, removing the photos from both locations.

Deleting Photos on iPhone Also Deletes from iCloud

Given how Apple handles syncing between iPhone and iCloud, deleting photos stored locally on your iPhone will also eventually delete them from iCloud.

When you permanently delete photos from the Photos app on your iPhone, those deletions are marked to sync with iCloud on the next upload. The deleted photos are removed from iCloud storage the next time your iPhone connects to WiFi and power.

So you cannot selectively delete photos from only your iPhone while retaining them in iCloud. The services are meant to remain in sync, so deletions made on one device or service will apply to the other upon syncing.

Example of Deleting Photos on iPhone and iCloud

Here is a quick example to illustrate:

  1. You take some photos using your iPhone camera which automatically uploads them to iCloud.
  2. You decide to delete some of these photos directly on your iPhone using the Photos app.
  3. The next time your iPhone connects to WiFi and power, the deletions are synced and the photos are removed from iCloud Photos online.

In this scenario, the photos deleted on the iPhone are also deleted from the user’s iCloud Photos library once the iPhone and iCloud sync.

What About Recently Deleted Folder?

One important note is that photos deleted on an iPhone are first moved to a Recently Deleted folder. They remain there for 30 days before being permanently deleted.

During those 30 days, a deleted photo can be recovered from the Recently Deleted folder to the iPhone Camera Roll, which would also restore it back to iCloud on the next sync.

So if you delete a photo on iPhone, and restore it from Recently Deleted before it’s permanently removed, that restored photo will once again appear in iCloud after syncing.

Can You Recover Deleted iCloud Photos?

If photos have been permanently deleted from both your iPhone and iCloud Photos library, is there any way to recover them?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to recover deleted photos from iCloud directly. However, here are a few options to potentially recover deleted photos:

  • Photo Backup: If you had another photo backup separate from iCloud (such as Google Photos backup), the deleted photos may still reside there.
  • iCloud Restore: You can restore your iPhone from an iCloud backup taken before the photos were deleted. This would restore the iPhone and iCloud to that earlier state with the deleted photos present.
  • Pro Data Recovery: In some cases, a professional data recovery service may be able to recover deleted iCloud photos, but this can be expensive and is not guaranteed.

So while accidental photo deletion can be difficult to undo, regular device backups provide the best protection against permanent loss of photos.

How to Prevent Accidental Photo Deletion

To avoid accidentally deleting important photos from your iPhone and iCloud, here are some useful precautions:

  • Enable Recently Deleted folder – This provides 30 days to recover deleted photos before permanent removal.
  • Use Favorites album – Moving key photos to the Favorites album protects them from bulk deletions.
  • Confirm deletions – iPhone has an option to confirm deletions as an extra precaution.
  • Backup regularly – Maintain regular device and cloud backups to safeguard photos.

Following these tips will minimize the risk of losing your irreplaceable photos due to accidental deletion.

Can You Choose Which Photos Sync to iCloud?

By default, iCloud Photos transfers your entire iPhone camera roll to iCloud storage when enabled. But you can choose to only sync selective photos to iCloud if you don’t want your entire camera roll stored in the cloud.

Here are two ways to sync just some iPhone photos with iCloud:

1. Use iCloud Photo Library Optimized Storage

Enabling the Optimized iPhone Storage setting for iCloud Photo Library will keep smaller, optimized versions of your photos on your device. Full originals are stored in iCloud.

This allows you to keep your storage free on your iPhone while still safely storing all your photos in their original quality within iCloud.

2. Manage Storage

In iPhone Settings, you can go to Manage Storage under your iCloud account. Here you get granular control to disable certain apps from backing up to iCloud.

You can switch off iCloud Photos here, and then selectively enable just certain albums or folders to sync. This lets you choose exactly which photos you want stored in iCloud.

All other photos will remain local on your device only. Just remember to occasionally manage your iPhone storage if you take a lot of photos.

Turning Off iCloud Photo Library

If you don’t want any photos or videos synced from your iPhone to iCloud, you can disable iCloud Photo Library entirely:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  2. Tap Photos.
  3. Turn off iCloud Photo Library.

With iCloud Photo Library disabled, any new photos you take remain local on your device only. And nothing gets deleted from iCloud when removing photos from your Camera Roll.

You can always turn iCloud Photo Library back on later to start syncing your camera roll again. Just keep in mind it will then delete any photos removed from your iPhone to bring the two back into sync.

Using Other Cloud Services

While iCloud provides convenient photo syncing and backup for iPhone users, it’s not your only option. Many users also leverage other cloud storage services to manage their photo libraries across devices.

Popular options like Google Photos and Dropbox allow you to upload device folders or entire camera rolls for cloud access and backup. This can supplement iCloud with cross-platform access.

The key difference is that non-iCloud services won’t integrate with the local iPhone Photos app. You’ll need to manage uploads and deletions from within each app separately rather than having two-way syncing.


To recap the key points on whether deleting iPhone photos deletes copies from iCloud:

  • Photos deleted from the iPhone Photos app are also deleted from iCloud after syncing.
  • Recently deleted photos can be recovered for 30 days before permanent removal.
  • Recovering a photo from Recently Deleted restores it in iCloud too.
  • Use device backups and photo cloud services to protect against permanent deletion.
  • You can choose to selectively sync albums or folders to iCloud.
  • Turn off iCloud Photo Library if you don’t want automatic syncing and deletion.

Understanding this sync behavior allows you to manage your iPhone and iCloud photo libraries more effectively. Follow best practices like backups and selective syncing to prevent losing important photos.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does deleting photos on my iPhone delete them from the cloud?

Yes, if you have iCloud Photos enabled, deleting photos on your iPhone will also eventually delete them from your iCloud storage after your device syncs. iCloud and iPhone remain in sync regarding photos.

Can I get back photos I deleted from my iPhone and iCloud?

If deleted recently, photos may still be in the iPhone’s Recently Deleted folder recoverable for 30 days. Otherwise, you would need a backup or professional data recovery. Act quick before permanent deletion.

Do all my iPhone photos have to be in iCloud?

No, you can select to optimize iPhone storage which keeps lower resolution versions on your device. Or you can disable iCloud Photos and only put selected albums/photos in iCloud manually.

If I delete an iPhone photo will it delete on other devices too?

Yes, deleting a photo on iPhone or any device synced to your iCloud Photos will eventually delete it from all synced devices and iCloud after syncing.

Can I choose what albums sync to iCloud?

Yes, in iCloud settings you can enable Optimized Storage which keeps small photos on your device. Or you can selectively enable albums to sync under Manage Storage.


Syncing photos across iPhone and iCloud provides convenient access and backup of your memories. Just be aware deletions apply across the board. Use iCloud’s selective sync and built-in recoverability to prevent losing important photos accidentally.

Following best practices around syncing, organization, backups and recovery enables you to enjoy the benefits of iCloud photo management without as much risk.