I've been using the beta iCloud Photo Library for a week and a bunch of photos got duplicated and I'd like to wipe all the photos out and start over.

I have backups of all the photos and have turned off iPhoto Cloud Library on all iOS devices. When I log into the web app - it still shows dozens of albums and I can delete all the photos, then go to deleted items and then purge them, but the ghost albums are still there messing things up.

I've turned off the library entirely and you can see there is a 30 day waiting period.

enter image description here

If I click on albums, there are pages of them and no delete button anywhere. If I turn on the library on an iOS device, data starts flooding back as if I wanted to recover the photos.

I don't want to recover anything, I want a clean wipe and clean slate.

Currently, there are 7807 photos in the deleted album and no way to mass delete them. I have 31 albums that show up in iCloud and no way to delete them.

Is there some way to accelerate this or must people wait a month for a corrupt library to eventually be purged to start over?

(I have tickets open with AppleCare after carefully reading the FAQ and it's escalated to engineering, but I was informed that it might be a week or two before it gets seen :-( Perhaps someone has a better idea to clear things out or noticed something I've missed.)

  • Add this deficiency to a growing list. Super simple for apple to implement a select all feature but they won't in spite of user feedback. I have been an apple fan for a long time, but starting to wane. Basic use of devices seems to be made more complex as time goes on. Now with $1000 iPhones the reality is I need to get comfortable with Samsung. – barrypicker Oct 6 '18 at 18:05
  • hi @barrypicker If you consider a problem I asked in Mar 2015 and Apple shipped a native app to do this in April 2015 with a general workaround is published here in May 2015 a "deficiency", why complain now about this? – bmike Oct 6 '18 at 18:27
  • I am not venting at you bmike. I am venting at Apple. I complain because it is a basic use case. They provide and advocate use of a web interface. This web does not include the ability to select all. They then advocate for installing another app as a work around. Instead, how about adding the select all feature to the web app? I have other gripes too - like how to download photos in iTunes. All the tutorials suggest do not use iTunes to download photos, instead use the Windows photo import tool prompted when plugging in my iPhone device. My frustration is with Apple. They are deaf. – barrypicker Oct 7 '18 at 19:07
  • Also, to add to my gripes, if I delete from the web version of iCloud it requests confirmation "Are you sure you want to delete this from your devices?". I am not deleting from my devices, I am deleting from iCloud. They assume I want to keep these two things in sync. I have opted to not keep them in sync. These choices should be understood by both the devices as well as the hosting services. Again, basic features missing. – barrypicker Oct 7 '18 at 19:12

There IS in fact a way to mass delete photos in the iCloud Photo Library web interface.

  1. Click 'Select Photos' at the top
  2. Select the very first photo
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom
  4. Hold the SHIFT key and click the last photo (this will select everything in between)
  5. Click 'Delete' at the top
  • 2
    Viewing icloud.com/#photos in Safari on Mac now (2018-06) I don't see this option. Without a photo selected, the active icons at the top are Upload photos, Add to an Album. The inactive icons are Share, Download, and Delete. Clicking one photo and shift-clicking another just selects the second one. Also, ⌘A has no effect here. The best I've found is to ⌘-click each photo on the screen one by one, click delete, and repeat for all the photos you want to delete. A year or two ago I spent more than an hour on the phone with Apple support and that's the best they could offer. – User5910 Jun 4 '18 at 12:28
  • This did not work for me with Chrome version 69.0.3497.100 on Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS. Holding shift did nothing. Holding ctrl did nothing. – barrypicker Oct 7 '18 at 19:10
  • As of today I discovered a workaround to select multiple photos: 1) select one photo for a given date; 2) click the light gray + button that appears on hover; the tooltip says "Create or add to an album..." but what it does is select all photos for that date. Ignore the popup prompt, and click the trash icon. After confirmation, all selected photos will be deleted. – Lambart Jan 8 at 2:23
  • You can only delete 1000 photos at a time and Chrome crashed twice when I tried it. What a ridiculous web interface. – Ani Jul 17 at 18:53

For a short while, there was no way to mass delete photos once you store them in the iCloud Photo Library using the web interface. Now that Photos Version 1.0 exists on the Mac, this is trivial to accomplish. Similarly with the improved web interface, this is a two step process.

  • Command A - select all
  • Delete
  • Select All Photos album
  • File - Show Recently Deleted
  • click the Delete All button in the top right
  • be patient and wait for the deletion to happen everywhere and filter down to all devices that are syncing from the cloud

Photos for OS X released with 10.10.3 has the changes needed for easy cleaning:

  • Open your Photos library that is the system library
  • File -> Show Recently Deleted
  • Select Delete All in the top right
  • Repeat as often as needed if the app is still downloading new photos from the cloud

Answer: Yes

Here is how:

  1. On your iDevice/s (iPhone, iPad, etc), go to Settings > Photos & Camera > and turn off the "iCloud Photo Library (Beta)" option.

  2. Once you have turned iCloud Photo Library off on any/all of your iDevices/iOS Devices, go to https://www.icloud.com/#photos, and delete any/all photos you want to delete on there.

After that, your iCloud Photo Library should be cleared/wiped out.

Note: If for some reason you turn the "iCloud Photo Library (Beta)" option back on in iOS, and the old/deleted photos are still there, just delete them off of the device/s first, then repeat the steps I mentioned above.

  • Maybe I need to be clearer in the question, I have 7800 photos that I've deleted, yet when I turn back on the library on any iOS device - the dozens of photo albums are still there with no way to delete them. I'm looking to bulk clear everything and start fresh without waiting the 29 days. I'll need you to put up a screen shot of step #2. How exactly do you delete one or several photos? As I mentioned in the bounty - the volume of photos I have crashes Photos on iOS when I ask it to "delete all" - nothing actually deletes. – bmike Mar 22 '15 at 0:30

Two options. Turn off icloud backup on your device and wait 30 days. Or find yourself a mac and click on Apple Logo> System Preferences > icloud> Manage... > Photos > Delete. You get the storage back right away and can still reverse it in 30 days. And notice I said mac, for PC icloud software does not have that option at least as of 05/01/2018.


What is the delete button is disabled, not clickable

enter image description here

  • As you can see in my photo, I've already "deleted" the photos, but all the "zombie" albums are still there and even the photos haven't been deleted. I agree the delete buttons are either not working or absent entirely from the web interface. Pretty odd for something Apple has promoted so heavily as the next thing in Photo management for users. – bmike Mar 22 '15 at 0:34

This might work:

  1. Don't disable iCloud photos syncing yet
  2. Go to Photos on macOS, Cmd + A to select all photos, delete and empty the trash.
  3. Wait til this change syncs across all your devices
  4. Disable iCloud photos syncing

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