If you have deleted photos from your cellphone, SD card or laptop here are things to try to recover.
If you’re not the type of person to back up, it can be a terrible feeling when you delete photos permanently and then realize that you didn’t mean it. Maybe you accidentally deleted all of your photos, or just dropped a little: no problem. The process of trying to get it back is the same.
This will depend on which device you deleted photos from, the application or software you used to store photos and how long since you deleted them.
There is a safety net installed on Windows, Google Photos and iPhone / iPad so you can get back photos, videos, and other files that were accidentally deleted.
In fact, the process is generally the same as restoring all types of files.
How to recover deleted photos in Windows
- Check the Recycle Bin
- Filter by ‘JPG’
- Copy the file to the folder of your choice
By default, if you select multiple photos and press the Delete key, Windows will place them in the Recycle Bin. They were not deleted at all: they had just moved to a different place.
Open the Recycle Bin – usually there is 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.
You can check in the Recycle Bin for your photos. To filter the list to show only photos, find the Item type column, hover over and click the arrow facing down to bring up a list of file types.
Scroll and check each type, including JPG and JPEG. Check others if you know your photos are in a different format, such as DNG or RAW.
You can click on the item type itself to order the results from the latest to the oldest, or the oldest to the newest.
Photo recovery software
If the photo is not in the Recycle Bin and has actually been deleted, you might still be able to recover it. When Windows deletes a file, it doesn’t actually delete it.
All it does is mark the space where something is stored on the hard drive as “free”, which is basically just a flag to say the space can be used for new files.
This is faster than deleting the files yourself and that means the recovery software can scan your drive and look for photos that might still exist.
There are dozens of applications that can recover photos and you can try one of these:
- Disk Digger
- PC Inspector File Recovery
- Paragon Rescue Kit 14 Free
- CGSecurity PhotoRec
Before you download or install it, keep in mind that this might overwrite some of your deleted photos, so it’s best to use another computer to download it. And it is best to choose which 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. Be sure to read the installation instructions on that page.
Recuva is easy to use because the wizard guides you to choose the type of file you want to recover, where it is located (you can select ‘I’m not sure’) and then go to try and find the photos.
A list will appear: You can check the box next to the one you want to restore and choose where to save it. Ideally, choose a different hard drive or USB stick.
Original file names tend to disappear and be replaced with nonsense, but at least you have your precious photos back.
Recover deleted photos from SD card
If the photo you deleted is on an SD card, microSD or some other type of removable storage such as a USB flash drive, use the same process as described above, but you don’t need to worry about downloading and installing it on your laptop or PC: it will not overwrite deleted photos.
Even if you don’t choose Recuva, almost all file recovery software functions the same way.
Recover deleted photos from iPhone
If you delete photos on your iPhone or iPad, there is a folder you just deleted in the Album section in the Photos application. This keeps deleted photos and videos up to 40 days, so as long as the time limit hasn’t passed, you can choose what you want and return it to your main camera roll (called All Photos).
Open the Photos application, tap Album at the bottom and scroll down. You will see a section called Other Albums and – if you have deleted something recently – there will be a New Deleted folder at the bottom.
Tap, select the photos (and videos) you want to save and tap ‘Restore’ at the bottom.
If you cannot retrieve photos using this method, read our in-depth guide to recovering photos deleted from iPhone. One method is to restore a backup before you delete a photo.
Recover deleted photos from Android
If you use Google Photos – whether on Android or iPhone – find a system similar to the iPhone Photos application.
In the latest version of Google Photos, tap Library at the bottom, then tap Bin (or Trash if you are in the US) and you will see photos and videos that you have deleted in the last 60 days.
Tap and hold one of the photos you want to recover and tap Restore at the bottom. The photos will be put back in their original location on your mobile storage, and in any album they are.
You can look for similar options in your phone’s default Gallery application. If not, there are various applications that you can try on the Google Play Store that can try and recover deleted photos. Again, you can also try and restore your Android phone backup from before you delete your photos.