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Deleted Photos May Still Be on Your Phone


When you remove a photo from your cell phone, it may not be gone for good.


When you remove a photo from your cell phone, it may not be gone for good. That is great news if you accidentally delete an important photo. But it could be a big problem if a photo you wanted to delete is still on your phone.

You may think when you tap the trash can icon to delete a photo, that photo is no longer on your phone. But that may not be true. The photo may stay on your phone for a while to give you a chance to restore it.

So, it is important for you to know what happens to a photo when you send it to the trash.

iPhone and iPad photos app

When you tap the trash can icon on iPhone or iPad, you will see a confirmation. It asks if you want to delete or cancel. When you choose delete a notice tells you the photo will be deleted from all of your devices.

iPhone Photo Delete Confirmation
iPhone Photo Delete Confirmation

Your photo will disappear from view then and there. But it is not truly gone.

Instead, the image is sent to the Recently Deleted album in the Photos app where it remains for 30 days. During that time you can return a photo from the Recently Deleted album to your phone. You can also choose to delete it permanently.

To find the Recently Deleted album, open the Photos app, then tap Albums in the bottom menu. Swipe to find the Recently Deleted album.

Recently Deleted iPhone Album
Recently Deleted iPhone Album

Tap on the Recently Deleted album to find the photos you have deleted within the past 30 days. On each photo will be a number representing the days left until the photo is deleted permanently.

If you decide you want to keep a photo or delete it at that moment, tap Select in the upper right corner of the screen. Then tap the photo you want to keep or delete so a check mark appears.

Tap Delete or Recover at the bottom of the screen to delete the photo or add it back into the app.

If you choose to delete a photo from the Recently Deleted album, you will be asked to confirm your choice. You will also be warned: "This photo will be deleted. This action cannot be undone."

Google Photos

Google Photos Trash
Google Photos Trash

Google Photos keeps deleted photos for 60 days before they are permanently removed from your account. You can restore deleted photos within that time. You can also permanently delete photos if you do not want to wait 60 days for them to disappear.

To find photos you have deleted, open the Google Photos app and tap the menu icon in the upper left corner of the screen. The menu will appear.

Tap Trash to see the photos you have deleted from Google Photos within the past 60 days.

Tap the three dots in the upper right corner of the Trash page. You will be given the option of Empty Trash, that will permanently delete photos in Trash from Google Photos. You also have the option to choose photos.

Choose photos you want to either delete or restore. Then tap the trash can or the circle arrow in the upper right corner of the screen to delete or restore the chosen photos.

Google Photos Restore
Google Photos Restore

If you choose to delete the photos, you will be asked to confirm. You will also get the message, "Deleting items from the trash is permanent."

Deleting photos from other photo services

If you use a different app for storing and sharing your photos, check to see whether deleted photos are truly deleted. This information can come in handy whether you accidentally delete a photo or want a photo to disappear.

Either do an Internet search or look within the app to see what happens to deleted photos for the photo service you use.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Catherine Kelly Weaver was the editor.

Have you ever accidentally deleted an important photo? Have you ever deleted a photo, only to find it was still on your phone? What app do you use to store and share your photos?

Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

delete - v. to remove (something, such as words, pictures, or computer files) from a document, recording, computer, etc.

trash - n. a container where people put things that are being thrown away

icon - n. a small picture on a computer screen that represents a program or function

restore - v. to put or bring (something) back into existence or use

confirm - v. to give official approval to (something or someone)

option - n. something that can be chosen : a choice or possibility​

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