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How to Recover Lost Photos on your Mac, iPad or iPhone

Lost and Found

Reading Time: 6 minutes read

Being able to access your images whenever you need to, and from multiple devices, is one of the greatest benefits of digital photography. At the touch of a button, you can bring up nostalgic photos of your latest holiday, share treasured images with family and friends and, of course, filter your latest selfie. The quality of your digital images doesn’t degrade over time and they’re easily accessible and searchable.

Until you accidentally delete them from your device, that is. However, don’t panic. Recovering deleted photos is relatively simple as long as you act quickly. The recovery methods vary slightly depending on which device you’re using, so we’ll cover the various ways of restoring your deleted images below.

Firstly, let’s start with how to recover deleted photos from an iPhone or iPad.

Check your Recently Deleted folder on iPhone or iPad

If you realize your mistake within 30 days, your deleted photos will be held temporarily in your Recently Deleted album. Restoring them from here is simple.

1. Open up Photos and click on Albums.

Recovery - Open photos Album

2. Scroll to your Recently Deleted album.

Recovery - Recently deleted

3. Select the images you’re looking to restore, then click Recover. These images will now be restored to your Camera Roll.

Recovery - Selected images

For Mac photo recovery, this is the equivalent of checking your Trash folder, so have a look there first to see if you can salvage your images.

Recover deleted photos from iCloud backup

Another option is to recover your deleted files from your iCloud. iCloud Photos can be used to sync images between your Apple devices, as long as each device is logged into your iCloud account with iCloud Photos enabled.

Below are four simple steps to show you how to recover deleted photos using iCloud.

1. Open up your web browser and log in to your iCloud account.

iCloud - Open photos

2. Click on Photos

iCloud - Select Photos

3. Click on the Recently Deleted folder from the menu on the left.

iCloud - Recently deleted

4. Click the photos that you wish to restore, then click Recover. The photos will now be restored to your Camera Roll, across all your iCloud devices.

iCloud - Recovery

However, what if your images are not in the Recently Deleted album? If 30 days have passed or you’ve manually deleted your images from this folder, there’s still a possibility you can retrieve your photos.

Below, we’ll cover how to recover permanently deleted photos from iPhone and Mac.

Recover deleted photos from iTunes backup

If you sync your iPhone with iTunes now and then, you’ll be able to restore your iPhone to a previous backup. This means you might be able to save your photos, even if you deleted them over 30 days ago.

It’s worth noting, however, that restoring your iPhone to a previous version will remove anything that’s been added in the time since your last backup – including contacts, images and mail. Simply put: your phone will be reverted to the version of your last backup, so before going ahead with this method, it’s worth weighing up if recovering your images is worth it for you.

1. In iTunes, Click View and then Show Sidebar.

iTune - Open Click View

2. Right-click on your device and select Restore from Backup…

iTune - Restore from Backup

3. Choose your latest backup and proceed. Your iPhone will now be restored to this last backup.

Please note that all of your other files on the device will be restored to that specific version of the backup, including contacts and mail.

How to recover Mac photos that aren’t in the trash

If it’s been more than 30 days and your images aren’t in your Trash folder, you can try Apple’s Time Machine software instead. This method helps you to retrieve lost photos by restoring your Mac to a previous version when the photos hadn’t been deleted.

1. Open Time Machine by clicking Command + Space and searching for Time Machine. Hit Enter.

Open Time Machine

2. Select a date when you know you still had the photos on your device.

Select the date for Recovery

3. In the Finder, go to your Home drive.

4. Click on Pictures.

Click on Pictures folder

5. Find the file named Photos Library.

Find Photo Library

6. From here, you can Recover the entire Photo Library, but note this will overwrite your current library, so you may lose your most recent images.

7. Alternatively, copy the images you need from the Photo Library.

8. Paste these images back into your current Photo Library.

Recover Mac, iPhone or iPad photos using paid software

If the above methods don’t work, you may still be able to retrieve your deleted files using paid software.

IMyPhone is designed to restore your deleted, lost, or corrupted files on any device. Whether you’ve accidentally deleted your files, emptied your Trash folder, or your operating system has crashed, IMyPhone can help get back lost data from rewritable storage media with a guaranteed recovery rate of 98%. If you can’t recover your images using iCloud, iTunes or Apple’s Time Machine, a software like IMyPhone is your next best bet. Simple to use and affordable, it’s the ideal tool for when all else fails.

Celebrate your favourite photographs with Motif

Once you’ve restored your photographs, don’t leave them sitting on your device. One of the best ways to celebrate your most special pictures is by bringing them to life in print.

Motif’s Photobook App does the hard work for you, seamlessly working with Apple Photos in macOS and iOS to create your personalized memory book. Customize backgrounds and choose from over 80 professionally built layouts to create a book that’s personal to you.

Bring your photo memories to life with Motif.

Experience the joy of creating personalized photo projects with Motif. Our photo book app seamlessly works with Apple Photos in macOS and iOS, doing the heavy-lifting while leaving the creative freedom to you.