How to Remove the iPhone Photo Library

by Mark Pool

Photo files on your iPhone can take up a lot of space, especially if you import high-quality files from your Mac or PC. If you're running low on memory you can delete some or all of the photos in your iPhone's photo library to make room. Imported photos need to be removed using the iTunes sync functionality. Photos you've taken on your iPhone can be removed in two ways. You can delete photos one-by-one by tapping the photo, then tapping the trash can icon to delete it. You can also delete the photos from your Mac or PC and re-import them from your iPhone.

Deleting Photos Imported by iTunes to the iPhone

Plug the iPhone into your Mac or PC using the cable that came with the iPhone.

Click the iPhone icon in the left panel of the iTunes window that opens.

Click the "Photos" tab at the top of the iTunes window.

Clear the checkbox for all the photos and albums that you don't want on your iPhone. This tab has a list of photo albums and folders available for synchronization to your iPhone. If a photo, album or folder has a marked checkbox next to it, iTunes will send the photos to your iPhone. Photos imported this way can't be deleted on the iPhone. The only way to remove them is by clearing the checkboxes in this tab.

Click the "Sync" button to remove or add any photos depending on your changes in the "Photos" tab.

Deleting Photos Taken on Your iPhone

Remove any photos you've already imported to your Mac or PC. During the import process, iTunes asks if you want to delete the photos from your iPhone. This is a quick way to remove a group of photos from your iPhone. If you've already imported a large group of photos from your iPhone, delete them from your computer to see this option again. On a Mac, delete them from iPhoto or the folder you've selected in iTunes. On a PC, delete them from the folder or application you imported them into.

Delete the iPod Photo Cache. This is necessary so iTunes will ask if you want to import the photos again. If you've synced the photos to a folder, go to that folder and drag the iPod Photo Cache in that folder to the Trash or Recycle Bin. If you're syncing to iPhoto, go to your "Pictures" folder in Finder, press the "Control" key and click on the iPhoto Library, then click "Show Package Contents" in the menu that appears. Drag the iPod Photo Cache to the Trash.

Plug the iPhone into your Mac or PC using the cable that came with the iPhone.

Click the iPhone icon in the panel on the left side of iTunes.

Click the "Sync" button, then click "Delete Originals" in the window that appears to delete the photos from the iPhone.

About the Author

Mark Pool has been a technical writer and translator specializing in information technology since 2001. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from Columbia University, he went on to study the IT sector and receive technical certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Red Hat.