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I would like to open up my iPhone like a USB drive, navigate the folders, and delete things.

I do not want to sync anything up. I don't use iCloud.

Ideally I would be working in file space, not in app space. I'd like to have basic finder features such as sorting by size/date/filetype and previewing videos. How can I delete photos of my iPhone using my Mac?

Things I've tried:

  • Opening up finder. Doesn't work at all
  • Opening up photos. Doesn't allow deleting, really wants to sync and push me into iCloud.
  • iExplorer. Doesn't allow deleting files in free version
  • IFunBox. Doesn't have image preview features.
  • Image Capture. Allows deleting of photos and videos. Doesn't have any quick way to preview videos and see what they are.
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  • iExplorer is the best tool for this task. Consider purchasing it for all the other amazing things it can do for you. Ex: I needed to extract the iMessage threads for the widow of a good friend who died unexpectedly so she could keep them permanently elsewhere.
    – IconDaemon
    Feb 9 at 20:10
  • Buying a file browser is a bit too dystopian for me.
    – Seph Reed
    Feb 16 at 14:55

3 Answers 3

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As far as I know, three apps have the functionality you want. Or, at least, close to what you want given the limitations Apple places on iOS/iPadOS.

iMazing (actively developed) and iExplorer are the best known apps. Both push the Apple imposed boundaries of what is possible with control of iOS/iPadOS from a Mac.

Regarding photos and videos, I use iMazing to show them in both an Apple Photos-like view, and in a file system view with Finder-like sorting. The photos and videos can be opened in Preview or viewed with Quick Look. Further, you can delete them.

iExplorer is similar. When I compared them (some years ago) I preferred iMazing. Both are not free! But download and try.

I am also aware of the free iFunbox which will probably do what you need. I am hesitant to recommend this because a) I know nothing of its reputation and b) it is somewhat old. But it may do what you need if you are prepared to trust it.

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The Image Capture app can do this.

  • Connect your iPhone to your Mac with a cable.
  • Launch Image Capture.
  • Unlock your iPhone if prompted.
  • Select the images to delete.
  • Click the trash can icon in the window title bar.
  • Confirm the deletion.

Image Capture is from Apple and is included with macOS.

Update: This answer was entered prior to the OP editing the question to eliminate Image Capture (and add the requirement to delete videos in addition to photos).

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  • Missing the preview ! any suggestions for that ?
    – Ruskes
    Feb 9 at 18:26
  • @Ruskes, preview for what?
    – SteveM
    Feb 9 at 18:28
  • 1
    Sorry about the update. Didn't think to specify it until I needed it. @SteveM previewing photos and videos to see what is being deleted. Thumbnails aren't always enough.
    – Seph Reed
    Feb 9 at 18:28
  • @SephReed no worries, the comment was more for anyone seeing the answer and wondering why it suggests something that was already eliminated. Suggestion, edit the question to note that both photos and videos are needed and that thumbnails are not sufficient for your needs.
    – SteveM
    Feb 9 at 18:41
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iPhone does not allow access to the file system, so everything is managed via apps, and those have restrictions. Ths security model sandboxes files to the originating app, so technically only those apps can delete or manage files.

However, if you connect your iPhone to a Mac, you will see your iPhone appear as a Location. Opening this will show several activities. One is 'Files', where you can right click to delete app specific files. You can not delete much of anything else from here, you need to go into Music or Photos to delete on the iPhone.

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