Problem from iOS 10.1.1 to 10.2.1.

I have no photos at all on my iPhone yet in settings it says my photo library is taking up ~200MB of space. The number of space being taken up keeps changing constantly(in the settings app on my phone). In iTunes, the storage bar at the bottom does(when in the sync menu) not show photos.

What is taking up this storage, and how can I reduce it?


  • I disabled iCloud photo library and iCloud photo stream, still showing the same thing.

  • Tried doing what @User9125 said, didn't work. I had set the date all the way back when I first got my phone, nothing showed up.

  • Rebooting

  • I had hundreds of photos in Whatsapp, I deleted them but I didn't get the storage back. It didn't even make a dent in the amount of storage being used by Photos so I don't think a third-party app could be taking up this storage.

  • I don't think a system app is taking this space either, because I cleared the pictures in mail and messages.

  • I tried using iCleaner(through sideloading) in Secure Mode and Fast Mode, but it did not clear up the photos.

  • @Peter that was my suggestion! Try turning it off, it'll probably clear up that storage as Peter hinted (please see my answer).
    – owlswipe
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 14:55
  • Can you try the suggestion I give in my answer (turning off iCloud Photo Library on your phone) and report back whether it works or not?
    – owlswipe
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 21:33
  • Hmm. Try backing up to iCloud, factory resetting, then restoring data from iCloud.
    – owlswipe
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 1:23
  • I'm not sure that's the only way, but it won't take too long to try. Not even sure it'll work.
    – owlswipe
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 15:03
  • Do you have an app like WhatsApp that might download photos onto your phone but keep them in that app's data instead of in the photo library? My point is, it's probably not wasted space.
    – owlswipe
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 15:06

6 Answers 6


Try to restore your device through itunes

  • @books453 With a similar issue that was my only option. Upload your photos to the iCloud Library. Then Make a backup, do a clean install and finally restore from backup. Photos should come back when signing into iCloud.
    – fsimkovic
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 8:42

There might be phantom photos still in your Photos app. Just do these things and it will solve your problem.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Date & Time
  3. Untoggle "Set Automatically"
  4. Manually change the date back. For example, today is December 10, 2016, choose something ex: like March 21, 2015. (You can change it back once we're done)
  5. Close out of that
  6. Open "Photos"
  7. Select "Albums" you had already cleared out everything from the Camera Roll and "Recently Deleted" folder, But now you'll see that your "Recently Deleted" folder now has thousands of images back. Those are your phantom photos
  8. Open it, "Select" and start deleting
  9. Now, go back into Settings - General - Usage - Storage - Manage Storage - and you'll notice your Photo & Camera is empty if you deleted everything.
  • This sounds plausible.. We will know for sure when the OP tested it.
    – user61744
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 16:40
  • @books453 did you select date as I mentioned? Could you please do the same for 2014 September 1st ? I don't know why the exact date matters but that would show phantom photos if there exist some. Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 17:02
  • According to some sources that happens because iOS couldn't delete images of Recently Deleted folder after 30 days. It does show images have already been deleted but actually they aren't. So it is better if you can consider some suitable year and month to select when changing the date since you haven't mentioned your iPhone Model. Ex : if you have an iPhone 6S it is useless to select date in 2014 since your photos (Phantom) simply didn't exist that time. So please select one more carefully. Hope to hear a good news Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 17:10
  • Same problem here. This solution didn't work for me unfortunately. Commented Aug 19, 2017 at 18:26
  • Did not work for me on iOS 13.4.1. Tried with various fake dates from 3 years in the past in circa 2 months steps until reaching the present, and having explicitly quitted Photos.app (app switcher, slide up) inbetween those steps. "Recently deleted" always remained empty. Did not get the phantom pictures.
    – porg
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 22:25

I had the same issue and no date/time tricks or whatever I found on the Internet worked for me. I managed to finally find and remove the photos using iExplorer application. Here is the youtube video. The app is not free but you can run it in demo mode and still find and remove the hidden photos.


Last week I was annoyed by my iPhone 6 16GB which was low on available storage. I connected the iPhone to my macbook, started iTunes and synced the iPhone without changing any of the settings. After syncing, I had 1.5 GB available storage.

I do not know how this could have helped, maybe it set some huge caches straight, but it could also be a solution for you.


iCloud Photo Library stores the photos you take in iCloud automatically and then stores lower-quality versions on your phone. I think you might have photos stored in this service, which could be causing storage usage of photos on your phone even if they aren't showing up locally on your phone.

Try turning off iCloud Photo Library if you have it on, as I think this is what is causing the storage usage of photos on your device. Go to Settings -> iCloud -> Photos and try turning iCloud Photo Library off; I suspect this will free up the megabytes of storage.


Reboot iPhone that (usually) clears the ghost data

  • I tried rebooting, didn't work.
    – airsquared
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 0:38

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