iPhones have some of the best cameras on any phone, but as Apple doesn’t seem to care for microSD cards, you can't expand your phone's storage when you've filled it up with all those photos and videos. The only solution is to delete some of them, or even all of them and we'll show you a few ways to empty out your photo library on iPhone.
iCloud Photo backups
Before you begin, it’s worth noting that if you just want to save space on your iPhone then there is an alternative to deleting everything. iCloud Photos is Apple’s own online storage service that can keep all your photos on its servers and reduces the impact on your storage.
While the full-resolution versions are kept in iCloud, recent versions of iOS have a setting that only stores much smaller versions on your iPhone, which can be a huge help in terms of space. Apple gives you 5GB of iCloud storage for free, which is stingy for the richest company in the world, but the rates for additional capacity are reasonable as you can see from the monthly prices below;
- 50GB - £0.79/$0.99
- 200GB - £2.49/$2.99
- 2TB - £6.99/$9.99
For a full guide on iCloud and what it has to offer, read How to use iCloud on our sister site Macworld.
To enable the space-saving feature on your iPhone, go to Settings and tap on your account name at the top of the screen. Next, tap iCloud > Photos and select Optimise iPhone Storage.
Another thing to remember with iCloud is that anything you delete on your phone will also be removed from Apple’s servers. So, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Think of it more like photo synchronisation rather than backup. If you did want to copy off a load of photos and videos to store on a laptop or PC then here's how to import iPhone photos.
How to delete individual photos
If you just want to thin out the photos on your iPhone, it might be good to start by removing items one by one. To select images you want to delete, go to the Photos app, tap the Photos option at the bottom of the screen then tap the Select option in the top right corner.
Now you can go through your photo library, tapping on any images you no longer require. When you’re happy that you’ve got them all, tap the trash can icon in the bottom right and confirm your desire to send them to oblivion.
How to delete albums
A quick way to remove lots of images is to delete albums. Now, Apple makes this a bit more long-winded that it should be because if you delete the album itself then all the photos inside will remain in your Photos library as you’ve only dispensed with the shortcut. Instead you’ll need to open each album and blitz its contents.
To do this, open Photos and select the Albums tab at the bottom of the page. Next, open an album and tap the Select option in the top right corner. You’ll now see that in the top left corner an option appears to Select All. Tap this then tap the trash can in the bottom right corner to delete the contents of the album.
How to delete all photos in one go
Unfortunately, there’s no Select All option in the Photos section of the app, so this leads us to a bit of trickery if we want to remove all images from the iPhone. There is the option to use a Mac or Windows PC, but you can delete everything from your iPhone if you’re happy to take a brief detour into the Google universe.
Download the Google Photos app, then sign in with your Google account (or create a free one). Back up your photos and video library with the app, which may be quite a prolonged process if you have a huge collection.
Next up is the bit that makes it all worthwhile. When the backup is completed, tap the three lines in the top left corner then select Free up space from the menu. You’ll now be able to remove all the photos on your iPhone in one go (once you’ve granted access to the Photo library) just by pressing the Delete button. Plus, all of your images should also be backed up to your Google Drive for good measure.
Of course, if you’re thinking of selling your iPhone or passing it on to a relative, you’ll really want to completely wipe it rather than just deleting photos. To see how this is done, read How to Factory Reset iPhone or iPad.