My iPhone 5 has an album which has been saved onto it through iTunes from another laptop, when I try and delete the album through iTunes it doesn't seem to give me the option to do so. If anyone could be able to inform me on how to complete the action of deleting the album I would appreciate it, Thank you.

  • Do you want to mass delete all photos from the device or just wipe it and start over?
    – bmike
    Apr 8, 2015 at 18:13
  • @bmike that only works for photos in your camera roll, not the rest sync'd via itunes Aug 5, 2018 at 15:36
  • So sync with a new iTunes which will ask if you want to purge the old sync? @y3sh (assuming you can’t just connect to the old iTunes and turn off sync)
    – bmike
    Aug 5, 2018 at 19:05
  • @bmike the problem with purging the old sync is that itunes throws an "operation took too long" error when trying to delete the old sync for large photo sets >10GB. I'm actually up to 100+GB in my photo syncs and the only way I can do a fresh sync is by restoring the phone (full delete). Aug 5, 2018 at 19:22

4 Answers 4


Temporarily enabling icloud photo sync deletes all the itunes-sync'd photos.

Tried all these solutions, nothing worked. However, toggling icloud photo sync worked for me, because iOS won't let you sync both ways (itunes and icloud).

  • If you don't want your camera roll going to icloud, import all of your photos first with image capture, then delete your camera roll so it doesn't upload anything.
  • Settings > iCloud > Photos > Enable iCloud Photos
  • Prompts: "Syncing photos ... is not supported ... Remove Photos and Videos"?
  • Click ok. Important: I had 20,000+ sync'd photos and I had to re-do this about every 7000 photos or so.
  • Go over to your photos app and watch the numbers drop on "selfies", "videos", etc
  • Turn iCloud photo sync back off Settings > iCloud > Photos > Disable iCloud Photos
  • The folders will remain (but no pictures in them)
  • Plug the phone in via usb, launch itunes, sync one small pictures folder. This will remove all the remaining empty folders from the previous sync.

This KB article from Apple shows you how to accomplish this:

Sync photos to your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in iTunes

The relevant info is towards the bottom...

Delete synced photos

  1. In iTunes, locate and click on your device.
  2. Click Photos.
  3. Choose "Selected albums" and deselect the albums or collections you want to delete.
  4. To delete all synced photos, deselect "Sync Photos from" and, when asked, click "Remove photos."
  5. Click Apply.

It sounds like you don't have access to the original computer that it was synced with though. If that's the case then this should guide you through the process.

Delete photos and video synced from iTunes when you can’t access the originals

To delete photos that have been synced from a computer that's no longer accessible:

  1. Create a folder on the computer that you now sync with, and add a single photo to that folder.
  2. In the Photos tab in iTunes, click the box next to "Sync Photos From."
  3. In the pop-up menu next to "Sync Photos From," choose the folder you created in step 1.
  4. Apply the change.
  5. Uncheck "Sync Photos From."
  6. Apply the change again.
  7. Your synced photos will now be removed from the device.
  • 1
    I am in this situation - I have an old iPhone 5s 64GB which contains ~11GB of photos. I have the photos archived, but I don't have access to the machine from which they were synced originally. I have tried the one-photo-folder technique, and still the old photos remain in the phone. I cannot delete them directly from the phone. I have also tried using Image Capture, but it doesn't even show the photos in the list. I am really at my wits' end over this - I cannot believe it is so hard to delete images from a device. Any ideas how to go about this? Thanks in advance! Jun 28, 2018 at 9:16
  • Right, this solution doesn't work for larger photosets synced via itunes (>10GB). When iTunes tries to perform the sync, it errors out and says sync took too long. Aug 5, 2018 at 15:37

The simple manner to do this is to make a folder containing one photo on your laptop desktop.

Then tell iTunes to sync photos from that folder. That will delete all locally stored photos and albums (other than the camera roll).

Also, you might update to iOS 8.3 which allows you to manage your entire Photo Library in the cloud in which case you can delete the offending photos and albums using a web browser on any computer or iOS device that's linked to your AppleID for Photos app.


I had this problem, and it was driving me insane. In the end, I was able to delete the photos using iFunBox, which allows you to browse the phone's filesystem and delete files directly. Choose "Raw File System" in the sidebar (use the "List" view for easier navigation), and look through the phone for the photos. In my case, I deleted all the directories under PhotoData/Sync and under PhotoData/Thumbnails/V2/PhotoData/Sync. To delete multiple files/directories you need to select them (or Cmd-A to select all), then right-click on them and choose "Delete" from the menu.

This took care of all the thousands of synced photos I had on the phone.

Deleting photos using iFunBox Deleting photos using iFunBox

  • This still leaves some videos and selfies sync'd. Are there any other folders to look at? Aug 5, 2018 at 19:22
  • @y3sh probably - look through other directories, the photos might be there somewhere. Aug 8, 2018 at 17:38
  • don't download. it's a virus
    – joordan831
    Apr 5, 2019 at 7:14
  • @joordan831do you have some information/links to backup that claim? A quick search revealed that there seem to be some infected versions of iFunBox out there, but as long as you download from the official site, it should be OK. Apr 5, 2019 at 11:16

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