7 Clever Ways to Delete iPhone Photos Quickly

An expert from Apple shares time-saving tricks to free up lots of space on your phone.

Until a few days ago, I had over 20,000 photos on my phone. (In my defense, I go to a lot of informational events for my job, and pictures make it easy for my highly visual brain to remember things! Also, I’m a millennial…so, enough said.) But I recently received an alert about the dwindling space on my iCloud account, which was a sign for me to get serious and do a digital declutter.

Related: Time for a Digital Declutter: 8 Simple Ways to Cut Screen Time

As a Real Simple editor, I know quite a bit about organizing and tidying up, but I felt there had to be a faster way to get the job done; who has time to scroll through thousands of photos individually and decide which you should keep? After experimenting a bit, I realized one of the fastest ways to get rid of lots of photos quickly is to bulk delete, and it turns out Apple has all these features that help you do just that. I reached out directly to them, and one of their experts was able to share some clever ways of delete iPhone photos quickly.

Zoom Out

Pinch your fingers while you’re viewing all photos to zoom out and squeeze more images into your view. This way you’re able to quickly determine if there are any large sections of photos you can eliminate ASAP. (E.g. The many shots you took to get the perfect angle of yourself sitting on a beach in Aruba.)

Utilize the Preview Filmstrip

An alternative to zooming out: Quickly move between photos by dragging the preview filmstrip at the bottom of the screen left and right versus scrolling through photos by swiping through one by one.

Turn to the Search Tab

There’s a search function in the Photos app that lets you enter a keyword or a combination of keywords (e.g. name, place, event, etc.) to find exactly what you’re looking for. Moving forward, you can help your future self by adding keywords: Swipe up on a photo to add captions and keywords—they will also be included in search results. I tested this by searching “dog” and it really works! (I have many screenshots of corgis I see on social media, because I dream of the day I will finally own a fluffy, long boy…however, I do not need this many images of random strangers’ dogs.)

Look Through the People Folder

Got an ex you want to scrub out of your life? Luckily, the Photos app has a folder that groups images of the people in your life—it detects the faces in all your photos and sorts them for you. This is awesome if there’s a person you really want to forget about but don’t have the time (or emotional energy) to scan through every single photo you’ve ever taken. You can also do this with places and browse images by the location in which they were taken using the Places album.

Delete the Screenshots

Do you need to save all those screenshots of random memes and gossipy group texts? Probably not. Screenshots are low-hanging fruit when it comes to photo decluttering, because you probably have very little attachment to them, and thankfully, the Photos app pulls them all into one folder. Tackle this first to make an immediate, significant dent.


Videos take up way more space than photos do! If you can, prioritize deleting a few of these before you start on images.

Get Rid of Some Selfies

If you’re a millennial like me (or you just really like your face), there’s a good chance you have quite a few selfies. Again, Apple has thought of everything, and there’s a folder for this too. This is another category that should be relatively easy and painless to skim through and whittle down, because it’s likely you have multiples of the same angle. (Gotta get the perfect shot!) If you want to remember a look or group selfie forever, just save one and let go of the rest!

Eliminate Duplicates

Sometimes you’ll have doubles of certain photos! Find and delete duplicates using the Duplicates album in the Photos app. You can “merge” some of them, which combines the highest quality photo and all of the relevant data across the duplicates, and keeps that one in your library.

Related: 12 Smart Habits to Help You Manage Your Email Inbox for Good

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