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How to delete and recover photos in Android

For smartphone users, the camera has become almost a reflex: You see something noteworthy, you capture a snap, and you’ll preserve that memory forever. But what if that particular snap isn’t worth forever? While paper snapshots are notoriously hard to part with in the hand, digital files in your Android gallery are a lot easier to discard. That said, mistakes happen, and you could change your mind about a picture or video you too quickly threw out.

We show you have to delete photos from your Android phone and to recover them if you change your mind. The example below is in Android 10. While Android phones may differ depending on the operating system and manufacturer, the methods described should be fairly similar.

Got an iPhone? You can do the same thing. See our guide on how to delete and recover photos from your iPhone.

Delete photos from the Gallery app

Almost all Android phones have a Gallery app that stores photos, videos, and screenshots taken with the smartphone camera, and images from other sources that you have downloaded from websites or saved from email or text messages. From the Gallery, you can remove one image or many images simultaneously. Here’s how.

  • Tap to launch the Gallery app.
  • Tap the Photos button to access all of your photos.
  • Tap the Trash can icon at the top.
  • Select all the images you want to throw away by tapping the circles at the upper left of each picture. The selects will show a checkmark.
  • Tap the Delete button at the bottom of the window.
  • You may get an alert asking if you’re sure you want to delete these images. Tap Delete again.
  • Your images will then move to the Trash and after seven days they will be permanently deleted.
  • To permanently delete these images immediately tap the three-dot icon at the upper right and tap Trash.
  • In the Trash, tap the three-dot icon again and tap Empty Trash or tap the album icon to open the album and tap the trash can with the X in it to select the pictures you want to remove immediately.
  • Tap Delete at the bottom of the screen.
  • A dialog will appear to ask if you’re sure. Tap Delete again and they are gone forever.

Restore deleted photos from the Gallery app

But wait just a minute! What if you deleted something by mistake? No worries. You can easily retrieve and restore it to the gallery. Here’s how.

  • Tap the three-dot icon at the upper right.
  • Tap Trash to see the album containing the images you deleted.
  • Tap to open the album.
  • Tap the Restore icon.
  • Tap any image you want to save or Select all.
  • Tap Restore.

Delete photos from Google Photos

Google Photos is a five-year-old photo sharing and storage service that stores photos up to 16 MP and videos up to 1080p. The service is free and unlimited until June 1, 2021. In November 2020, Google announced that it will end its free unlimited storage for “high quality” or “express quality” photos starting on June 1, 2021. Existing photos are not affected, but new photos uploaded after that date will count against the free 15GB storage quota spread among Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. Here’s how to delete photos from the Google service. The same method works for both individual photos and albums.

  • Launch Google Photos.
  • Scroll to choose a photo you want to delete.
  • Tap the Trash icon at the bottom right of the screen.
  • A dialog appears asking if you want to remove the picture from your Google account. Tap Move to Trash. If you make a mistake, you can tap Undo right there.
  • To access the trash, tap Library at the lower right of the screen.
  • Tap the Trash button and it will show all pictures in the trash, which will be permanently deleted after 60 days.

Beware: If you are using Google Photos as a backup in the cloud, or your Android phone comes with only Google Photos, do not use it to delete photos from your phone because that action will also delete your online backup. Make sure you are using the Gallery app on your phone (instructions above) or another third-party app like QuickPic Gallery Dark or Gallery to get rid of photos you want to keep in the Google cloud but not on your handset.

Restore deleted photos from Google Photos

  • In the Trash screen, tap the Select button at the top right.
  • Tap any or all images to select them.
  • Tap Restore. An alert asks if you want to restore the images.
  • Tap Restore.

Recovering photos using third-party software

You always have the option of using a third-party software to retrieve erased images. Wondershare’s Dr.Fone and iMobie’s Phone Rescue for Android are only two examples of recovery software that’s available to the public.

Wondershare Dr.Fone

Wondershare
Wondershare

Dr.Fone Data Recovery (Android) enables the retrieval of your pictures and a variety of other media data from your Android handset. It provides a suite of rescue and repair devices that lets you recover data from broken or damaged machines and retrieve data lost during any updates.

iMobie PhoneRescue for Android

iMobie

PhoneRescue for Android allows you to take control of your photo gallery as well as your music, contacts, text messages, and other essential files, giving you the ability to retrieve them quickly (and, of course, have the peace of mind knowing you haven’t lost anything). iMobie PhoneRescue for Android lets you preview and choose your removed images, so you can select only the ones you’d like to restore. This convenient software is compatible with all Android devices, such as Samsung, Sony, LG, Google, Huawei, Motorola, and HTC.

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Jackie Dove
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Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
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