Why iPhone Won’t Delete Photos & How to Fix It

If you cannot seem to delete photos from your iPhone, it could be because they are synced elsewhere, your phone storage is full or the device is experiencing an error of some kind. Thankfully, there are some fixes for these issues that can help.

While keeping photos on your device can be great for reliving past memories and keeping them alive, there will come a time when you may need to delete some photos. But what if your iPhone won’t let you remove them?

Read on to learn more about why your iPhone won’t delete photos, and what you can do to fix it.

Key Takeaways

  • The first potential cause of this issue is that the impacted photos were synced to the device from elsewhere, and thus cannot be removed from the iPhone as normal.
  • Another reason is that your iPhone storage is full. The device needs a bit of space in order to perform a deletion, so you may need to free up space in another way to begin deleting photos as normal again.
  • A strange bug, error, or issue within the device or operating system can also be to blame. Restarting the iPhone or updating it could fix the problem.

Reason 1: The Photos are Synced From Somewhere Else

The most common reason why you are unable to delete photos from your iPhone is because they were synced from elsewhere. Photos you have taken on the device and saved there can be removed from the phone without a problem.

But ones that were synced from another device or platform can’t be. For example, if you synced photos to your iPhone from iTunes or Finder, the only way to remove them is to go back on the same software, connect your device, and turn off the syncing.

This action will remove those photos from your iPhone going forward. Sometimes, iCloud Photos being on can also lead to the inability to properly delete photos. Turning off iCloud Photos will remove photos that are synced with iCloud from your device.

In order to do this, go to Settings > Photos and click the toggle beside iCloud Photos to turn it on or off.

Reason 2: Your iPhone Storage is Full

Another reason for the inability to delete photos off of your iPhone is that your storage is full. The reason this can prevent deletion is that the actual action of deleting the photo requires a bit of storage space to complete properly.

To check the storage space on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. This will show you how much space you have in total, but also break down what sorts of apps and data are using up your space.

If you see that your device is full or nearly full, you should try and free up some space and see if that helps. You can free up space by deleting apps, deleting attachments in messages, clearing out old message conversations, or doing any number of other things.

Reason 3: The Device is Experiencing an Error

In some cases, the cause for not being able to delete photos is simply a strange bug, error, or interaction within the device. iPhones are complicated and there is a lot going on behind the scenes, and issues like this are not that uncommon.

Bugs like this do happen and can interrupt the regular functionality of the phone in mysterious ways. If this is to blame, there are a few things you can try in order to fix the problem. 

First, you can try to restart the phone. This gives the phone a clean slate to work from and clears out the temporary memory and data, and stops any strange interactions that could have been taking place.

In order to restart your iPhone, you need to press and hold either volume button and the side power button until the power-off slider appears on the screen. Simply drag the slider to the right to power off your device.

About 30 seconds after the device has turned off, press and hold the side power button until you see the Apple logo to turn it back on.

The method for older devices (iPhone 8 and earlier) is similar, but only involves pressing and holding the side power button instead of both that button and a volume button.

If restarting didn’t work, you can update to the newest version of iOS. New versions are often released with bug and glitch fixes that deal with common issues like this.

In order to update your device, go to Settings > General > Software Update. If a new update pops up, click Download and Install to begin the process. It can take a couple of minutes, or perhaps longer if the update is large and/or your internet is slow.

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to save some space on your device or just get rid of some photos you no longer need, deleting photos can be important. Unfortunately, you may run into a situation where certain photos cannot be deleted from your iPhone like normal.

I hope that this guide has been able to show you why they may be unable to be deleted, and how you can fix the issue.

Is there anything else I should have mentioned in this guide but didn’t? If so, please let me know about it in the comment below.

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