Jan 022012

I hope this saves somebody out there some time.

I just wasted an hour or so of my holiday trying to delete 3200 images from my iphone which were stopping me from taking any more photos (or doing anything else) with it. I had already backed up my images both to iPhoto and the two 1TB disks we are carrying with us – so I just wanted them gone.

Here is one of the pics that I wanted to delete, the sight that greeted us in the hotel lobby for New Year’s Eve. Not for a party, just because the staff were being festive. The place where we are staying has a 4:30-5:30 wine and ย cheese session every afternoon, where hotel guests can gather in the lobby and eat sweet and savoury biscuits, cheese and wine (with juice boxes for the kids).


I did not fancy manually clicking on each image and then selecting “delete” from the iPhone. I could not drag them manually into the iPhoto Trash folder from the iPhone. Some sources suggested going into iTunes and syncing the photos to an empty folder created on the computer just for that purpose – but it did not work.

The solution is something called Image Capture – an application that comes with OS X mainly to upload from digital cameras. Plug in iPhone, use Spotlight to find Image Capture, then tell it to sync the device to Image Capture not iPhoto in the app settings. Highlight all the images, then use the red circle with a line through it symbol to delete.

Takes a while – around half an hour or so for 3000 images. I have had time to write this blog post instead of going out cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, which I would much, much rather do on New Year’s Day. I guess I would have been better off actually deleting images each day when I uploaded instead of waiting for the phone to fill up.

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  47 Responses to “How to delete all images from a camera roll on an iPhone 4S”

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  3. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I’ve been working on this for HOURS! I had to first upgrade to Lion, then I had to sync ALL my photos to photo stream, now I am deleting my 3300 photos. It is still deleting but I can’t wait to have more room on my new 4S! You rock! Thanks again!

  4. Thank you so much! My 2,500+ photos are deleting now. Hopefully my phone will be a little faster now.

  5. Thank you!

    My little daughter fancies the Camera on my iPhone and keeps clicking photos and videos endlessly. Deleting them via Image Capture was a breeze! Thanks for sharing the tip.

    This also solves my problem of iPhoto popping up every time I connected the phone. I just selected “No Application” instead of iPhoto. I can now manually open iPhoto when I want to import!

    You certainly did not get to ride that day, but you saved time for many people on the planet ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Thank you so much! This has been plaguing me for ages! Things like this frustrate me so much, such epic failure for such a generally awesome UX team.

  7. omg, thank you! you just saved me HOURS of time deleting them all by hand!!!

  8. i just did this and it didnt work and i lost all my photos. i am mortified.

  9. This is awesome thank you!

  10. THANK YOU for taking the time to explain. JUST what I needed!

  11. THANK YOU!!! You’ve been a life saver!

  12. THANK YOU!!!!!!

  13. Thank you!!!! You rock. Saved hours.

  14. VERY VERY helpful bit of advice,,, many thanks !

  15. THANK You!

    I’ve been looking for a simple answer like this for a long time! Kudos!

  16. how about windows pc? i don’t have mac.

  17. thanx!!!! it works perfectly!

  18. Re Windows PCs: I found a way… In Windows Explorer, find your iDevice icon (under “Computer”) and traverse to your photos:

    – Press Ctrl+A to select them all.
    – Press Shift-Delete to delete your selections without bothering with the Recycle Bin.
    – Answer Yes to the confirmation prompt.

    Job done.

  19. Life saver!!!! I have been trying to figure this out for ages. Owe you one!!!!! Works like a charm! Feels good to have that extra hour of my life back. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. THANK YOU! I kept wondering why I still had 4 GB of pictures on my iPhone when I thought I always moved them off through iTunes. I’m just getting heavy into photography, and I don’t always want to use iPhoto. I had no idea about Image Capture, which will help me with so much. THANK YOU FOR INVESTING YOUR TIME TO POST THIS!

  21. OMG.. THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! I am glad you didn’t take that bike ride and helped us all! Wooo hoo! You rock!

  22. A simple way that i just used to delete all photos from my iPhone 4s was to connect iphone to my laptop, open the storage device in my computer (windows), locate the folder where images were stored and simply select all and delete. Took a few minutes.
    I’m sure you can do this with Mac too.

  23. thanks! this saved me a ton of time. apple wanted me to sign up for care to solve this but i decided to save the money and search online. your entry was exactly what i needed. much appreciated

  24. Thanks!!! You save me with that too !!!! I will share with my international bodies of experts in Brazil. LOL

  25. Thanks a lot – it is fantastic how we have become so used to googling our way out of any problem, expecting to find a solution among the top 5 hits and as a rule – as was the case with your suggestion – finding a user-friendly step-by-step guide made by an individual as yourself who has taken some time to help others ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Great – thanks, this worked perfectly! Much better solution than the others I found on the net. Why on earth doesn’t Apple provide this simple function themselves?!


  28. This was helpful! Thank you for sharing.

  29. Thank you!!! This was so helpful!!

  30. Such a stupid device with no option to delete all photos.

  31. Thanks — just what I was looking for as well! ๐Ÿ˜€

  32. Thank you!! Saved me soooo much time! Cheers

  33. thank you, my phone was chock o block full of photos and iphoto kept crashing on me.
    Cheers Cinti

  34. AWESOME!!! Saced me too!

  35. excellent. thanks very much. did the job.

  36. I was able to delete multiple pictures on my iPhone 4s by going into the camera roll then clicking on the share button, then tap on all the pictures you want deleted, then touch delete. This way you only have to touch the delete button once instead of 3000 times. Easy way to do it if you don’t have access to your computer.

  37. THANKS! I’ve used one other option before but it was more involved and I didn’t remember.

    This could be solved if I just deleted as I synced. But for some reason I always want to hang onto pics a little while. And then its 2 years later and I have thousands.

  38. Thanks so much – i was full to the brim and didn’t know how to get rid of my photos. Nice tip!

  39. Thanks a lot!
    I had disabled the Image Capture application since the moment Drop Box started doing the same thing and I didn’t remember about it! Now it’s smoothly deleting my +4000 pics…

  40. You rock…. I just paid 50$ for softwares to delete files from iphone … none of them worked…. This is working like a charm…

  41. thanks very much for taking the time to write this!! It just saved me some time I don’t feel I have to dedicate to deleting photos at this time (hence why I waited until it has filled up).

  42. Thank you! Image Capture worked liked a dream!

  43. Brilliant! You just saved me hours! Thanks

  44. This saved me a lot of time…thanks!

  45. Thank you, very much:).

  46. Wow. This page was extremely useful. I knew there was some little hack around this. Your procedure just gave me be back 6 gigs on my iphone. Doing this whole thing was like tinkering with a pc back in the 90s. Apple should have had this figured out.

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