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I'd like to delete the vast majority of the images/videos on my phone. There this previous question about deleting all images on the phone which is what I've done in the past. However I would really like to preserve some of my favorites.

Are there any easy ways of doing this on iOS8?

  • You can't do a custom search where you select all but your favorite ones unfortunately, but you could delete all then go through the recently deleted and select the ones you want to recover. However be careful to backup, this is probably not a good idea. You could use your computer to manage the photos instead? – unknowndomain Jul 6 '15 at 19:32
  • how would I use my computer to manage photos on the phone? Can I do that via itunes or via iPhoto? – EightyEight Jul 7 '15 at 15:56
  • This doesn't have a native solution, do you happen to be an iOS dev? – Downgoat Jul 14 '15 at 22:20
  • @vihan1086 I am, but I would prefer something existing of course. Seems odd that there's nothing there, this should be a pretty frequent task. Maybe I need to reframe my question. – EightyEight Jul 16 '15 at 15:26
  • @EightyEight Yeah, I see. As the current answers say, you can't really do this is the way you've asked. I know of a few apps, I'll post my answer – Downgoat Jul 16 '15 at 15:46

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A user on the MacRumors forum has built an app to do exactly this task, find and delete all photos in a folder or in the camera roll that have not been marked as a favorite.

The app is "Deleter" by saleksandras and it's at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/deleter/id1180101544?ls=1&mt=8

I just ran the app, and it worked perfectly! It selected the 2,600 photos on my phone that I hadn't marked as favorites and ignored the 600 that I had favorited. When I hit delete, it moved all of the non-favorites from my camera roll to the recently deleted folder (so I could recover them for 30 days if I needed to). It took a minute or so to delete everything, but it was 9gb of photos, so I think it can be excused for that :)

It was a bit nerve-wracking to hit delete on that many photos, but I had already backed up my camera roll to my PC using the PhotoSync app (another great tool), so I wasn't really worried.

I don't know why Apple doesn't include a mass-selection tool to easily select all favorite or non-favorite photos, but this app does the job!

  • This is cash money. When you own an iWatch, and want to include your favorites on your watch face, combine that with google photos, which happily backs up your data, and deletes all of your photos (including favorites), this app is worth the price. – Josh Miller Sep 19 '17 at 23:53
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    I used this solution today, it worked. I had somewhere around 20GB of images and the app didn't show any signs of progress while deleting. I actually had to hit the trash button a few times, not sure if it was working or not - but after 3 tries I'm only left with favorites. Nice! – dpollitt May 29 '18 at 1:40
  • Good, but didn't work in "one fell swoop" for me. I had to press delete three separate times to delete all but my favourites and I only had about 7 GB of photos. Seems buggy but better than some of the alternatives. Worth the $1.40 price tag in early 2019. – Nova Feb 3 at 2:59
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I don't think there is a solution to your problem in the way you've asked:

However you could download and delete all the photos off your phone into iPhoto on your Mac, then create an album of photos/videos you want to put back on the phone and sync that back using iTunes.

  • Thanks, I suppose that's one way. Unfortunately there's also my wife's iPhone which means I'd have to do it twice instead of getting her to do it.. iPhoto does understand favorite photos and stuff I'm sure? – EightyEight Jul 8 '15 at 15:16
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To free up space on my phone, while maintaining my favorites I do the following:

Your "recently Deleted" folder stores items in the order that they were deleted. 1st: Go to favorites folder (or whatever folder that contains photos/videos that you want to keep) Select all and then press the trash (delete) icon. Those photos will now be in one group in the "recently deleted" folder. 2nd: Go to your main photo album "Camera Roll" select all the photos and delete. 3rd: Go to recently deleted folder, you will find your "favorites" are all still bunched in a group together. Select those and restore. 4th: Now go back to recently deleted folder and permenantly delete all the contents. This will free up the space on your phone and you still have your favorites.

Note: I use dropbox to back up all my photos so I never worry too much about deleting any, but there are those "favorites" that I like to keep to have quickly at hand to show to others. I make sure my drop box is synced and up to date before doing the above process that way I don't have to worry too much about accidentally deleting something I'll want later. Amazon prime has unlimited photo storage so that's where I eventually dump all my photos.

  • The recently deleted files are grouped by day. This may work but it is still pretty manual and you might want to wait a day after deleting the favorites before restoring them so they can be more easily identified. – bnjmn Aug 24 '16 at 18:33
  • This didn't work for me. It could be a change with newer versions of iOS. – dpollitt May 29 '18 at 1:40
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If you are an iOS developer, you can always write a quick app. Otherwise, they're a few apps that might do what you need.

  • Purrge

    Yeah, I did spell that right, This will let you swipe to select all the photos you don't want and delete them, you can click on a photo to see it in full screen.

    Purrge

  • Flic

    Flic is a simple app in which you just swipe to keep or delete photos enter image description here

  • Bulk Delete

    This is like Purrge but supports photo AND video enter image description here


If you use iCloud photo library, you could upload all your photos to that. From there, it will mark your favorites with a star so you can quickly go over them.


Another option is you can put all your photos in an album. Then in that album, take out all the pictures you don't like. Then you can delete all the photos in that album at one

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I might have found a workaround. It's not pretty, but might work.

  1. On your iPhone, go to your favorites album, select all, and move them to trash.
  2. Connect your phone to a computer and navigate to the directory that contains your library of photos.
  3. Select all and delete.
  4. Disconnect from the computer.
  5. Restore all photos from your phones trash.

This SHOULD leave you with just your favorites.

It's a shame this isn't easier. Maybe there's a better way?

  • Thanks for your suggestion. Putting anything in trash seems a little dangerous to me 'cause I'm not sure when it'll go away. – EightyEight Jul 19 '16 at 1:54
  • In latest iOS, the recently deleted album will store them for a month so that should not be a problem - assumption is you do this same day anyway. The nice thing about this is that when you restore them from the recently deleted album, they will go back into albums you had originally placed them into, and also the "favorite" and "hidden" status will be preserved and restored. Rather than deleting using the file explorer, I import with the delete after import option to make sure file explorer does not find me the recently deleted pictures, just in case. – bokusama Dec 10 '18 at 4:15
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You can use iCloud Photo Sharing to keep only selected photos on your iPhone while deleting all photos in Camera Roll.

How: enable iCloud Photo Sharing, in "Shared", create a new shared album, say "Favorites Forever". Share this album to yourself (you can of course share this to others too, but let's assume you want to keep this folder for your eyes only). Import existing photos from "Albums/Favorites" into "Favorites Forever". When the importing is complete, you can now delete ALL the photos in Camera Roll. All the photos that used to be stored in Camera Roll and displayed in "Albums/Favorites" will be gone. However, you still have the original copies of all of them in "Shared/Favorites Forever".

Essentially, you use iCloud Photo Sharing to create a folder to replace the default "Albums/Favorites". Albums in iCloud Photo Sharing are stored separately from "Albums/Camera Roll" - that's why this solution is possible.

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    iCloud Photo Sharing downsamples shared photos and videos. This is a very lossy solution. – user11633 Sep 4 '16 at 22:59
  • It ain't perfect and certainly comes with its own drawbacks, but easier than downloading another third party app just for this purpose. Do you have a better solution? – zire Sep 6 '16 at 17:51
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That's a good suggestion to use your computer. As you're using iOS8 you just need to make sure 'iCloud Photo Library' is enabled, then all your photos will be synced to the Photos for Mac app. Then you can locate your favourites in Albums > Favourites, select all, and export them somewhere on your disk. Then go to Albums > All Photos, select all and delete everything. Then you can re-import your saved favourites. Depending how many photos you have this may not be practical, considering the syncing.

  • Thanks for your suggestion, but this approach doesn't seem feasible. I have over 40 gigs of videos and photos on my iPhone. There's cleenapp that does nearly what I want but it doesn't handle videos unfortunately. – EightyEight Jul 7 '15 at 18:43
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Inspired by one of the answers here, I went to my favorites album and use the "hide" feature which then keeps those images from showing in my Moments, Collections, and Years" folders. I then go to one of those folders - i chose Moments and deleted the remaining images from today's photo session, and then went back to my Favorites folder and "unhid" the images.

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You do not tell us whether you use Windows or OS X. If it's the latter, open Photos and click the "heart" icon for your favorite photos.

Then open iTunes, click on the device icon, select 'Photos' from the left tab, and select the checkbox "Favorites".

selecting favorite photos in iTunes

The new selections will start syncing once you press "Apply".

You do not need to go through iCloud.

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AirDrop your favorite photos to your friend's iPhone. Delete everything, then AirDrop it back to your phone. Easiest, fastest way to do it if we're talking about large amount of photos.

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