I can't find a way to delete previously imported photos from the iphone in the Photos app (Version 1.0 (209.52.0)). Note that there is a check box to delete picture right after import, but I am looking for a way to delete previously imported pictures without having to reimport them. Typically pictures are automatically imported via iCloud and so when I open the Photos app it does not make sense to reimport them. With iphoto it was possible but apparently not with the new photos app. Someone earlier posted the same question and one solution was given: OS X - How do I remove photos from my iPhone using the Photos app after import?

Nonetheless this doesn't work for me, the delete button is not present in the import page. Most likely this feature disappeared with an upgrade. Moreover when I select images, the Image->Delete photo (translated from the french version) is grayed out.

  • The answer on the linked question doesn't use Photos for the delete, it uses Image Capture, which doesn't have an 'import page'
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 11:01
  • @Tetsujin 1) you can import to a directory in image capture. Not sure if this dumps into photos (never tried). 2) the OP asked for deletion of photos. That's all i provided Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 14:58

4 Answers 4


Have you tried using Image Capture?

Plug in your phone. Select it from Devices. Select the photos, hit the little "no" icon (the circle with the line through it) near the bottom of the window, and delete the photo. Also good to delete photos you don't even want in photos.

  • I've found this hugely frustrating. I was not getting the 'delete from device' option in Photos leading to a build up of duplicates on my iphone 5. I also do not have icloud enabled for photos. Thankfully, the suggestion above to open 'Image Capture' and delete the iphone photos that way has worked.
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 12:47
  • Note that Image Capture can be found in the root of the Applications directory as of macOS 10.12.3 Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 9:54
  • Didn't even know I had it on my Mac Mini running MacOS Catalina. Thanks for the heads up. Removing previously imported images now using the Image Capture App.
    – rhand
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 2:56
  • How do I make sure to select only the images that are already imported?
    – Andreas
    Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 17:56

If the identical images are already present in Photos (due to prior import from My Photo Stream, for example), it will not reimport them. It only imports new items. In fact, the button on the import screen in Photos says "Import All New Photos" if there are already-imported photos present on the device as well.

There is no way in Photos to remove already-imported photos from iPhone, like there was in iPhoto. The only way is to remove them by using the Photos app on the device itself.

  • Indeed you have the option to import only new photos. Nonetheless if you do that, then the already imported photos are not erased from the iphone. If I chose to reimport pre-imported material, then it can be erased from the iphone but it is duplicated in photos library on the mac... I hope Apple releases a fix for that!
    – Ben2209
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 6:09
  • I'm not seeing the Import button even appear if all of the items on iPhone are already present in the Photos library.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 6:11
  • you need to select at least a picture from the phone (in the import tab). Then the import selected elements button (translated from french) gets enabled.
    – Ben2209
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 5:21
  • My point was that Photos will not, by default, reimport duplicate images. More to the point of answering the question - what you are asking is not possible, at least not currently.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 5:26

Try disabling iCloud Photo Library on your phone. I had this enabled and was wondering why the "Delete items after import" icon was missing and Image Capture showed a lock icon against all of the items and hid the delete button.

Once I disabled iCloud Photo Library, disconnected my phone, reconnected and restarted Photos and Image Capture, the delete icon reappeared.

A workflow I do is to go back and make sure I reselect all of the photos, check "delete items after import" and re-import them again. I'll have duplicates in my album, but I feel safer that way.

Further reading: http://www.howtogeek.com/219092/why-cant-i-delete-photos-off-my-iphone-anymore/


This is a problem. The new Photos app will re-import photos that were already imported via iCloud. You have to select them first and then the buttons are highlighted. If you check the "delete from iPhone" box, it will clean them off of the iPhone (good!) but then you will have duplicates in the Photos app (NOT good).

This wrinkle leave you with two options: Turn off iCloud and import them the old way or leave iCloud on and manually deleted photos from your iPhone.

  • 1
    I'm not using iCloud and I have this issue too, thus I'm not sure that this is an iCloud issue.
    – Michael R
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 5:24

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