How To Delete All Photos from iCloud [February 2021]
iCloud is Apple’s cloud service that allows users to store photos, videos, documents, and more. It is versatile and simple to use while providing security that your most important data is safe and secure.
As you probably know, iCloud offers 5GB of free storage to every user. Even though this might seem like a lot at first, it might not actually be enough to store all your photos.
You can purchase more iCloud storage above the 5 GBs that comes for free with iCloud so as an alternative to deleting photos you can upgrade your iCloud service level:
- 50GB: $0.99/month
- 200GB: $2.99/month
- 2TB: $9.99/month
Unlike Google Photos, iCloud stores photos in the highest quality full-size version that can quickly eat up the initial 5GB of free space that comes with iCloud.
There are a few ways to delete photos from iCloud, so let’s take a look at them, starting with the easiest option, the iCloud website.
If you do have a Mac, it’s much more efficient to delete photos from the Photo app on your Mac rather than your iPhone, so use that for this task rather than your iPhone.
Photo Deletion Gone Wrong
iCloud can be incredibly tricky. You may innocently click ‘Delete’ on your phone and realize that all your photos are gone from the iCloud and vise versa.
It is important to understand the difference between iCloud storage and iPhone storage before proceeding. Several users confuse the two and begin deleting content off of their Apple devices then wonder why they’re still receiving the “storage full” messages. iCloud is information stored on Apple’s servers, it’s a backup. If your phone has 256GB memory capacity and you’re receiving these messages it’s likely the iCloud is full.
Visit the settings of the device you’re working with and look for the iCloud photos option. If you’re using a Mac, and only want to delete the photos off of your computer do this:
- Go to System Preferences
- Click ‘Apple ID’ in the upper right-hand corner
- Select ‘iCloud’
- Toggle the photos option off
- Click ‘Yes’ when asked if you want to delete all photos from Mac
If you don’t take these precautions, all photos may be deleted from your iCloud. If you accidentally delete photos, it does go to a ‘recently deleted’ folder for 30 days.
Do the same for your iPhone and iPad. If you’re trying to clear up system memory and not your iCloud follow these steps:
- Go to Settings and click on your name at the top
- Click on iCloud
- Toggle the photos option to ‘off’
If some of your photos disappear out of your phone this is because they didn’t save to the device memory during a backup. The phone is now showing the content that was saved to it.
Deleting Photos from iCloud.com
If you’ve ever wondered where you can see every photo you’ve ever uploaded to iCloud you can. It isn’t just stored on an inaccessible server somewhere. Go to your favorite web browser and sign in to iCloud.
Tap on the Photos icon
Optional: Filter Your Content
Use the filters on the left-hand side of the screen to narrow down your content (for example, if you’re trying to free up some space start with screenshots)
If you want to delete all the photos type CMD + A on your Mac or Control + A on your PC to highlight everything
Click the trash can icon
Once you’ve selected the desired content, click the trash can button located in the upper right-hand corner.
Using iCloud on a web browser to delete your photos is probably the simplest option. It allows you to delete all of your iCloud photos at one time.
Deleting iCloud Photos From Your iPhone
If you want to delete photos from your iCloud, the easiest way to do this is to simply delete them from the Photos library on your iPhone. In order to do this, you’ll have to make sure that your iCloud Photo Library is turned on. Keep in mind that this will delete the photos from your other Apple devices as well.
Here’s how to do it on your iPhone:
Open your photos
Go to the Photos app and tap on the Photos option which is on the lower left, which will show you all of your photos from the most recent at the bottom to older photos at the top.
Click ‘Select’ and tap the photos to delete
Click the Select button which will float in the upper right part of your screen. You may want to start with your oldest photos by scrolling to the top of the screen by tapping once at the top.
Choose ‘Select All’
Tap the trash can icon and confirm
Once you have tapped Select you can tap to select any photos you want to delete then tap the trash icon in the lower right to delete the photos.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t delete the photos for good. Instead, it just transfers them to the Recently Deleted album.
To completely remove all photos, follow these steps:
Open the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder
Tap on Albums, which is the second tab to the right of photos on your iPhone. Scroll down until you find Recently Deleted Photos
Tap ‘Select’ which will select all the recently deleted photos.
Tap “Delete All” to complete the deletion of the photos.
Now your photos will be completely gone. If you don’t follow this step you won’t save any disk space until Photos automatically completes the deletion of “recently deleted” items.
Deleting iCloud Photos on a Mac
On a Mac, you can delete iCloud photos from all connected devices in a matter of minutes. This is by far the easiest way to do it as it allows you to take advantage of Apple’s ecosystem. To do this, take the following steps:
Open the Photos app on your Mac and do this:
Tap the Photos option in the left-hand panel.
Hit Command+A or go to Edit then Select All.
Hit Command + Delete on your keyboard to delete all the selected photos.
Note: This is an efficient way to delete ALL of your photos or you could just select photos one at a time to delete in bulk.
Similar to deleting photos from your iPhone, this just moves them to the Recently Deleted folder. You can find the folder on the left side of your screen, within the sidebar, and delete the photos from there by following the same steps.
From your Mac’s Photo application simply click on Recently Deleted then click on Delete all in the upper right of your screen.
What Happens When You Delete Photos from iCloud
As mentioned previously, iCloud is a cloud storage service. Deleting your information from iCloud essentially means it’s gone forever (unless you’ve stored it somewhere else like an external hard drive or Google Photos).
When deleting content, whether you need to free up space on your Apple device or your iCloud, knowing how to remove the content properly will save you a lot of time and heartache.
For example; if you buy a new device and restore it from an iCloud backup, all your photos may instantly take up all your device memory. If you’d like to free up the device storage, make sure to turn off the iCloud Photo Library first.
If you don’t have this selection turned off, your photos will also delete from your iCloud.
The Wrap Up on Deleting Photos from iCloud
Freeing up your iCloud storage can be a pretty simple and quick task if you follow any of the methods in this article. It can be done in a few minutes, thus allowing you to keep using the 5GB of storage that Apple gave you.
If you need more space, you can always sign up for other cloud providers, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. This way, you can have a lot more storage and you won’t have to depend solely on iCloud to ensure that your important photos and media files are backed up.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have more questions, we have the answers here.
How do I get my photos out of the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder?
If you’ve accidentally deleted some important photos simply navigate to the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder and click the ‘Recover’ option. This will appear when you’ve selected the photos you want to recover, or it gives you the option to ‘Recover all.’
I deleted all of my photos but my storage is still full. What’s happening?
There are a few causes for this; you didn’t clear the ‘Recently Deleted’ files, your phone storage is full, or your iCloud storage is full. If you’re receiving a message that iCloud is full then you’ll need to delete photos from the iCloud and not just the phone.
How do I clear iCloud storage without deleting stuff off of my phone?
You can turn the iCloud Photo Library off. This means that the photos on your device won’t be affected if you make changes in the iCloud. This can be finicky if you turn the function back on at some point so have a backup to Google Photos or another cloud service ready.