How to Delete iPad Photos Revisited – What Works & What Doesn’t

Recently I received a plea for help from a visitor to this blog. She’d followed one of my earlier posts on how to delete photos from the iPad. She could not get rid of some of her pictures and was also concerned that duplicates of the photos were taking up space in her albums. Let’s deal with deleting photos first.

If you follow the directions in the article above, you may discover there are photos you cannot select and delete. You can delete the image if it was taken with the iPad, imported via a camera connection adapter from a digital camera or another iOS device, or saved from an email or website. You can also delete large numbers of iPad photos using your Mac and the Image Capture program.

If the photo was synced to the iPad via iTunes on your computer, you cannot delete it except by returning to iTunes. Connect your iPad to your computer, then use the Photos tab for your device inside iTunes. Deselect (uncheck) the album, event or folder you don’t want on your iPad. Then sync.

What about those “duplicate” photos that appear in your albums on the iPad? They’re not duplicates. When you put a photo in an album on your iPad, you’re not making a copy of the photo in the album. You’re simply creating a pointer to that photo in your collection, so the photos in albums aren’t taking up additional iPad memory. You can have a single photo appear in multiple albums if you wish.

About Andy Brovey

Dr. Andy Brovey, The Portable Prof, teaches about digital tools through his work, websites and social media. In 2007, Apple Inc. recognized his work and named him an Apple Distinguished Educator. He started this iPad Academy website shortly after the first iPad went on sale. On his Freelance Teaching site you'll find the resources you need to teach like a smart entrepreneur.

6 thoughts on “How to Delete iPad Photos Revisited – What Works & What Doesn’t

  • Deborah Rehner

    I did a dumb thing. I was visiting someone and used their MacBook (OS X 10.6) to sync photos that I had downloaded to their MacBook from my camera. But, not knowing what I do now, I synced all the photos from their MacBook = including theirs! Now, I cannot get their photos off my iPad. I’m expecting that I can go back to their MacBook and delete them as you describe above, using iTunes and deselecting their photos, but they are several thousand miles away. I could reset my iPad, but that’s rather drastic. Is there anyway to just reset the Photos on the iPad – delete all the photos. I am pretty sure that the answer is, “No,” but it’s worth asking.

    • Andy Brovey Post author

      You can do this and keep just the photos you want. No need to delete them all. If you have a Mac, you can use the Image Capture program. If you don’t, find a friend who does.
      Connect your iPad to the Mac. If iPhoto or iTunes open on the Mac, quit the programs. Start Image Capture on the Mac. The Mac will see your connected iPad. Click on the iPad in the device list in Image Capture. You’ll see all the photos on your iPad. Then follow these directions to select and delete:

  • Chris Schaefer

    At this point, I would like to delete all the photos from my iPad (all were synched from my computer). I don’t want to delete them from my iMac and then re-synch because I’ll first have to save them somewhere else. (I’m assuming that deleting them from my iMac permanently deletes them.) I tried your earlier tip of going to the Photos tab in iTunes on my iPad, but I didn’t see one. Does that apply to the iPad3? Any help greatly appreciated. I’ve lost hours of my life just trying to delete photos. I’ll use the camera connection kit from now on.

  • Chachung

    This was useful. Now I need to know if there is anyway to delete a photo off of the ipad – but NOT off of my other devices. When I hit “delete” it states that the photo will be deleted from all om my devices! I don’t want to do that because I want to store the photo. I just don’t want it on my ipad because i have no memory left. Please help!

    • Andy Brovey Post author

      Sounds like you are using Photo Stream for backing up and sharing your iOS photos. You can delete one or more photos from your Photo Stream, but they get deleted on all your devices. Your photos in Photo Stream are “in the cloud” on an Apple server and not stored on any local device. One solution may be to first save the photos you want to keep by storing copies of them in another cloud service such as flickr or Dropbox. Then delete from your iPad.

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