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How to recover deleted files and photos on Mac, iPad and iPhone

Lucy Hattersley | June 6, 2016
Clicked 'delete' and instantly regretted it? Don't worry. Our tutorial explains how to recover deleted files and photos on Mac, iPad and iPhone

When you delete an iCloud Photo Library picture or video from the Mac, it'll pop up a warning message, 'Delete from all your devices?', and your only options are to agree to this or not delete the photo at all. And if you delete an image from your iPhone or iPad, you don't even get the warning - it'll just be whisked off iCloud Photo Library on other devices.

How to recover a deleted photo on Mac: iPhoto

If you're still using iPhoto (which Apple replaced with Photos in 2015) and you've deleted the photo from that program, it will be sent to the iPhoto Trash (rather than the usual Mac OS X Trash). Follow these steps to recover a deleted image in iPhoto:

  1. Open iPhoto and click on Trash in the Sidebar.
  2. Control+Click on the photo you want to recover and choose Put Back.
  3. Click on Photos in the Sidebar to view the images.

The file will now be placed back in the iPhoto library.

The iPhoto Trash Folder

How to recover a deleted photo in iOS

Photos are stored in the Photos app in iOS. The iOS version of Photos has much in common with its Mac equivalent, and this includes the 30-day grace period for deleted photos and videos.

How to recover deleted photos on iPad or iPhone

If you delete a photo from the iPhone or iPad and want it back, tap on Albums at the bottom of the screen. Somewhere in amongst the Selfies and Screenshots you'll see an album called Recently Deleted. Tap this.

How to recover deleted photos on iPad or iPhone

As on the Mac, any photos or videos that have been deleted in the past 30 days will be shown here, along with a tag that tells you how many days they've got left. If you can get to the file before the time runs out, you can tap it, then tap Recover (then confirm by tapping Recover Photo), and it'll transfer back to your Camera Roll.

Bear in mind that when you delete a photo from your iPhone or iPad it will also be deleted from your iCloud Photo Library, if you've got this feature enabled.

If you take and delete many pictures on an iPad, then you may want to invest in another backup solution. Fortunately many of the cloud services offer instant upload of any photos you snap to a cloud storage space. Consider installing Dropbox, Google Drive or Box and turn on Photo Backup. (See: iCloud vs Dropbox comparison review).


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