Camera and Photos apps

Losing a good photo can be pretty traumatic, and accidentally deleting photos is easier to do than you might think. If you’ve accidentally deleted a photo on your iPhone, there are several ways you might be able to recover it. Let’s take a look.

Here, we’re going to run through some of the ways you might be able to recover a deleted photo, and while they may not all be specific to your situation, hopefully at least one will get your photo back where it belongs–in your photo library.

Recover a Photo From Recently Deleted

The first and easiest place to look is on your iPhone. Open the Photos app and then tap “Albums” at the bottom of the screen.

Click Albums

Next, scroll to the very bottom of the screen and tap “Recently Deleted.” Here, you’ll see all of the photos and videos that you deleted less than around 40 days ago. Anything older than that will have been removed, but this is absolutely the first place to check.

Click Recently Deleted

If your photo is there, tap it and then tap “Recover.”

Tap the image and then tap Recover

Recover Photos from a Backup

If you plug your iPhone into a computer to back it up via iTunes, some tools can dip into those backups and allow you to extract individual files from them.

One such tool is iBackup Extractor, and it’s available for both PC and Mac. There are similar apps out there, all doing what amounts to the same thing—opening iOS backups that have been created by iTunes and allowing people to interact with them. If you know that the photo you need to recover is included in an old iTunes backup, this could be a great option to take–e. Especially if the photo was deleted more than a month ago.

Restore your iPhone from an iTunes Backup

If you’d rather not use a third-party app to recover your photo, you could also completely restore your iPhone using an old backup. It should be noted that if you do go this route, you will lose any data that was created or changed since that backup was created. We would heartily suggest creating a fresh backup before restoring anything, just to be sure.

Assuming you do want to go this route, connect your iPhone to a computer and open iTunes if it doesn’t open automatically. Next, click the device icon associated with your iPhone.

Click your device icon

To start the restore process, click the “Restore Backup” button. You will now be prompted to select the backup that you wish to restore. Select it, and then click “Restore Backup.”

Click Restore Backup

Your iPhone will now apply the previous backup and then restart. Once complete, iTunes will reconnect, and you can then check that your missing photo is present and correct.

Restore Your iPhone From an iCloud backup

If you don’t back your iPhone up via iTunes but use iCloud instead, you can restore from one of those previous backups, too. All of the same caveats apply here, so we again suggest taking a full iTunes backup before attempting to restore anything, just in case.

With a new backup taken, open the Settings app and then tap “General.”

Open Settings, tap General

Next, tap “Reset” towards the bottom of the screen.

Finally, tap “Erase all content and settings.” You’ll be prompted to authenticate before anything happens, but once you have done so the reset process will take place. Afterward, your iPhone will restart, and you can set it up as if it was a new iPhone. When doing so, select the option to “Restore from iCloud Backup” and be sure to select one from a time before when you believe the photo was deleted.

Tap Erase all Content and Settings

Oliver Haslam Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam is a professional freelance writer with nearly ten years of experience. His work has been published on Macworld, PCMag, 1Password's blog, and other websites. He writes about all things Apple.
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