How to Remove All Deleted Photos and Videos from iPhone to Free Up Space

In this article I will provide two methods to permanently remove all deleted photos and videos and finally free up some space in your iPhone’s /iPad’s storage. All screenshots taken on iOS 12.

About Photos in iOS and iPadOS

Everyone knows that photos and especially videos are able to take a lot of space in your iPhone’s storage. And as soon as iPhone doesn’t support external memory cards the free space issue is often one of the biggest problems.

The thing is that every time you trash an image or video clip in Apple Photos or Google Photos you don’t actually delete these files from device but just move them to the “Recently Deleted” album.

This album acts exactly as the Recycle Bin in Windows but serves only for storing removed pictures and videos.

It means that tapping “Delete” in Photos or Google Photos app won’t free even a kilobyte of your storage itself until you empty the “Recently Deleted” album.

Keep in mind, that even if you use Google Photos as your primary app for managing images and videos, all items you remove will be stored in the Recently deleted album in Apple Photos.

And, one more thing: you will never be able to remove the Apple Photos app itself from your iPhone/iPad. So treat the last as an integral part of iOS.

How to Remove All Trashed Photos and Videos from iPhone to Free Up Space

Option 1 – a Bit Quicker Way

  • Head to SettingsiPhone Settings iOS 12
  • Tap General.
  • Select iPhone StorageGeneral Settings iPhone Storage
  • Tap Empty in front of “Recently Deleted” Album:Empty Recently Deleted Album from iPhone Settings iOS 12
  • Select Delete From This iPhone to confirm your intention: Delete from this iPhone to clear photos

In a few seconds you should see the text “All photos and videos kept in the “Recently Deleted” album have been deleted”:

Recently Deleted album emptied

Option 2 – Traditional Method to Empty the “Trashed Album” in iOS 12, 13, 14

Usually, I observe people around me using exactly this method despite it is at least one step longer compared to the previous one.

Here are the steps they usually perform:

  • Launch the Apple Photos app:Apple Photos app
  • Go to Albums.
  • Scroll down to the bottom and open the album named “Recently Deleted”: Apple Photos Albums Recently Deleted
  • Tap on Select on the upper right:select items in Apple Photos
  • Tap on Delete all:Apple Photos delete all
  • Opt to remove all items.delete items from Recently Deleted album


Now you know how to correctly empty the Recently Deleted album and free up some space on your iPhone/iPad running iOS 12. If anything is unclear or you have something to add on the topic, feel free to submit a comment below!

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