How to Recover Deleted Photos In Windows, iOS & Android

If you’re not one to keep backups, it can be a horrible feeling to permanently delete your photos and then realize you didn’t mean to. Maybe you accidentally deleted all your photos or just deleted a few: it doesn’t matter. The process of trying to get them back is the same.

It will depend on what device you deleted the photos from, what app or software you used to store the photos, and how long it’s been since you deleted them.

There’s a safety net built into Windows, Google Photos, and iPhone/iPad so you can get your accidentally deleted photos, videos, and other files back.

In fact, the general process is the same as recovering any file type.

How to recover deleted photos in Windows

  • Check the trash
  • Filter by ‘JPG’
  • Copy files to a folder of your choice

By default, if you select some photos and press the Delete key, Windows will put them in the Trash. They are not deleted at all: they are just moved somewhere else.

Open the Trash – there’s usually an icon on the Desktop, but if it’s not, it’s in the Start menu. In Windows 10, just type Recycle in the search box and it will appear in the results.

How to recover deleted photos

You can check in the Trash to find your photos. To filter the list to show only photos, find the Item Type column, hover over it, and click the down arrow to display a list of file types.

Scroll through and tick each category, including JPG and JPEG. Mark others if you know your photo is in another format, such as DNG or RAW.

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You can click the Category item itself to sort the results from newest to oldest or oldest to newest.

How to recover deleted photos

Photo recovery software

If the photos are not in the Trash and have actually been deleted, you can still recover them. When Windows deletes files, it doesn’t actually delete them.

All it does is mark the storage space on the hard drive as “free”, which is basically just a flag to say that the space can be used for new files.

This is faster than deleting the files yourself, and it means that recovery software can scan your drive and look for photos that may still be there.

There are dozens of apps that can recover photos, and you can try any of these:

Before you download or install, keep in mind that this may overwrite some of your deleted photos, so it’s best to use another computer to download. And also it’s best to choose one that can be installed on a USB stick and run from there.

That’s why we recommend the portable version of Recuva from Piriform because it will run from a USB drive. Make sure to read the installation instructions on that page.

Recuva is easy to use as the wizard will guide you through choosing the type of files you want to recover, their location (you can choose ‘I’m not sure’) and then try and find the photos.

How to recover deleted photos

A list will appear: you can tick the boxes next to the ones you want to restore and choose where to save them. Ideally, choose another hard drive or a USB stick.

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The original filenames will probably disappear and be replaced with nonsense, but at least you’ll have your precious photos back.

Recover deleted photos from SD card

If your deleted photos are on an SD card, microSD, or some other type of removable storage such as a USB flash drive, use the same procedure described above, but you don’t have to worry about downloading and settings on your laptop or PC: doing so will not overwrite those deleted photos.

Even if you don’t choose Recuva, most file recovery software works the same way.

Recover deleted photos from iPhone

If you’ve deleted photos on your iPhone or iPad, there’s a Recently Deleted folder in the Albums section of the Photos app. This keeps deleted photos and videos for up to 40 days, so as long as that hasn’t passed, you can select the photos and videos you want and restore them to your main photo library (called All photos).

Open the Photos app, tap Albums at the bottom, and scroll to the bottom. You’ll see a section called More Albums and – if you’ve deleted anything recently – there will be a Recently Deleted folder at the bottom.

How to recover photos on iPhone

Tap it, select the photos (and videos) you want to keep, and tap ‘Restore’ at the bottom.

If you can’t get your photos back using this method, read our more in-depth guide to recovering deleted photos from iPhone. One of the methods is to restore the backup from before you deleted the photo.

Recover deleted photos from Android

If you use Google Photos — on Android or iPhone — you’ll find there’s a similar system to the iPhone’s Photos app.

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In the latest version of Google Photos, tap Gallery at the bottom, then Trash (or Trash if you’re in the US) and you’ll see photos and videos you’ve deleted within the last 60 days.

How to recover photos on iPhone

Tap and hold on any photo you want to recover and tap Restore at the bottom. The photo will be returned to its original location on your phone memory and in any albums contained therein.

You can find a similar option in your phone’s default Gallery app. If not, there are various apps you can try in the Google Play Store that can try and recover your deleted photos. Again, you can also try and restore your Android phone’s backup from before you deleted your photos.

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