Sometimes you just need a fresh start. It might seem a little bit suspicious, or even scary – why on Earth would you ever need to delete every photo on your phone? There are some legitimate reasons. Perhaps you’re selling the phone to a friend, and while you don’t need to do a full factory reset, you don’t feel comfortable with your friend having access to so many personal memories. Maybe you’ve already printed the photos you needed, or added them to a photography site. Maybe your significant other just gave you the old heave-ho, and you need to make room for all the stunning selfies you’ll be taking with your new boo. Or maybe you’ve got photographic evidence of some poor choices that you need to destroy from the universe before anyone finds out. (We don’t judge; we just provide information.)
Whatever the reason, you’ve come here because you need these photos gone—and now.
No worries. Deleting all your photos en masse is actually a pretty simple task to take on, and it’s only going to take a few steps to get it all done. So sit back, pour yourself a drink, and don’t stress—we’ll have all of the evidence of that nast ex, those bad decisions, and even those weird blurry pictures you took of your friend’s dog gone in no time.
Step One: Consider Backing Up Your Photos
Look, we get it. For whatever reason, you don’t want to have any memories of the photos on your phone, and that’s understandable! We don’t need to know your whole story. Before you throw everything away, though, we do recommend making a backup of your photos, just in case you do want to return to them someday. If you’re really set on there being no photographic trace of the events of your life, or if you’ve already figured out how to back up the photos you do want to save, that’s cool too. Go on ahead and skip to step two. But for everyone else, here’s a quick guide on how to backup your photos.
Backing Up Your Photos
Everyone likes free and easy-to-use, and Google Photos is exactly that. Google Photos is an application for Android that makes it quick and easy to back up your photos over Wi-Fi as soon as you take them, or later on, as the case may be. You can back up your entire device, or choose specific folders for your selections, and your photos will immediately be available on any device through which you can sign into your Google/Gmail account. The app will walk you through backing up your photos, and the time it takes will depend on both your internet speeds and the amount of photos you’re backing up, so go ahead and plan on uploading them overnight while your phone is plugged in.
Once everything’s been uploaded, you’ll see a small cloud icon at the top of your page with a small check mark to let you know the deed it done. If you want, log into your desktop or laptop computer and check photos.google.com to see if your photos have finished uploading. There will be a chronological scroll bar on the right hand side of the screen, which will help organize your photos for you.
A quick note: If all you’re looking to do is free up space on your device, Google Photos has an option that will delete all photos and videos once they’ve been uploaded to the cloud. As you can see in the screenshot above, the option appears right under the Backup notification and allows you to click to make additional choices. You’ll see a message that alerts you to how much room you can free up and how many items that will remove from your device. The message will confirm that the “items have been safely backed up to your Google account.” For some of you, this may be all you need. For everyone else, move on down to step two, in which I’ve included two options.
Step Two: Deleting Your Photos
Option One: Gallery apps
Alright, time to make those photos go away. If you followed the above step to upload your pictures to Google Photos, we suggest you do not use the Google Photos app to delete the pictures off your phone. Doing so will also delete your cloud backups, and that’s no good if you wanted to save a copy just in case. Instead, make sure you use either the standard gallery app on your phone or, if you use a phone that only came with the Google Photos app, use a third-party gallery app like QuickPic Gallery to delete these files off your phone. If you use the Google Photos app, you won’t just be deleting versions of your photos on your phone, you’ll also be deleting the copies of your photos you uploaded to the cloud. Do not complete the back up only to undo the back up!
Take a deep breath, and open either your standard Gallery app, or a third-party gallery application of your choosing, and look for the option to view “albums.” Every gallery app is going to be different, but traditionally, you’ll have the option to either view photos individually by date or together as an album. You’ll most likely see several albums in album view in addition to your camera roll, including screenshots, downloads, and any other applications that save photos to the device. One of the easiest way to remove files from the device is to delete each album individually. Not every gallery app has this capability, which means you might have to do some super sleuthing research before you choose the gallery app, or experience a little trial-and-error. In most gallery apps, you’ll simply press and hold on an album to select it, which should allow you to select each album you want to delete. On Samsung’s Gallery application, you’ll also have the ability to select all albums. Once you’ve done this, click delete album, and confirm. Your photos will be removed from your device.
Option Two: File manager apps
You may prefer not to download a gallery app for the exclusive purpose of wiping out certain memories from your life. Understandable. If you don’t want to use a gallery app, you can still use a file browser to do a very similar task to the gallery app method detailed above. For this method, you can use either the stock file manager or, if your phone doesn’t provide one, a third-party manager from the app (I wholeheartedly recommend Solid Explorer—the name doesn’t lie, it is what it says it is!). Again, you’ll cruise through your file system until you find the folders that contain the photos you want to delete.
This takes a bit more time than using gallery apps which display all your photo-containing-folders at once. You’ll first want to make sure you’ve sorted your photos into handy folders, so you can take them to the trash, and then you’ll have to go through your entire file system looking for the folders you need to delete. Once you’ve gone through this admittedly long process you’ll have no doubt that your phone is once again photo-free, though I still recommend trying the gallery option first if only for ease-of-use. While you may feel this is a good fail-proof way to make sure you have hand-deleted every unnecessary photo, you may also get tired of the process after the fortieth folder, and start madly deleting everything. Know your style and your patience level!
That’s it! Luckily, deleting photos is about as hard as deleting any other file off a computer—very easy once you know what you’re doing. If you’ve got any tips or tricks to add to the process, feel free to drop us a line in the comments (yes, we know that not doing anything dubious, ever, is a really wise decision, but again, we’re not here to judge). Also, let us know if things don’t work out quite right. Technology can throw us for a loop sometimes, and we’d love to learn from any updates!