I'm having a few issues with syncing pictures, which I haven't really nailed down enough to ask a question about exactly, but the rough version of it is that I think that my Mac running iPhoto has already downloaded most of my photos (but not any of my videos) using photostream before I get a chance to sync using a cable, and this results in the following behaviour:

  1. iPhoto finds a lot of duplicates when I choose the iPhone device and choose to sync
  2. iPhoto offers a chance to remove photos from your device that you just synced, but because it did not sync these particular photo duplicates over the cable because they already existed via photostream it does not offer to remove them
  3. So it keeps finding the duplicates on my phone, and I have no easy way of removing the photos en-masse.

Now, the above is just background really, but any thoughts of a workflow for Photostream and cable syncing in tandem would be appreciated.

The issue for which I am raising this question is to do with my camera roll, and how to empty it on my phone. I am aware that I can cable it up and use Image Capture to delete them all, but I was trying to find a more elegant solution. I am aware also that I can individually (or in chunks by tapping on each and every one) remove them directly, but that's dumb. So when I found this section in Settings > General > Usage > Photos and Camera I was pleased to see I could left swipe the items to delete the contents:

Yay! Well, sadly not, as it appears to do nothing at all. I have deleted the camera roll several times, and every time I go back it's right there, and indeed all my photos are still available. Is this supposed to work, am I doing something wrong, or have I got some weird issue because it works for you?

Using the same method to remove podcasts from within the podcasts app works fine.

  • Doesn't work for me either so it's definitely not an isolated problem. Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 0:39
  • I definitely feel your pain there. I've got iPhoto running on my iMac 24/7 to suck up the photos I take each day. Only rarely do I set my 4S in the dock and actually end up having any photos to manually sync. It'd be nice to have a way to delete unsync'd photos from the device without an external means. Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 14:07
  • Also see this thread
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 18:55

5 Answers 5


Yes, iPhoto says there are duplicates because of the photo stream. But there IS a button to erase all remaining (not sychronized because of duplicates) photos from the iPhone directly within iPhoto after you did an import:

Delete all fotos from device within iPhoto

That does not solve your desire for an elegant wireless way. I simply think it's not possible to delete all photos at once directly from the iPhone (with built-in apps). Of course you could delete them by marking them one by one in the Photo apps using the "Edit"-Button.


The easiest way to delete photos is to use Image Capture. That's how I've been doing it.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your mac via cable.
  2. Run Image Capture. It should bring up the pictures on your phone.
  3. Select all images (or just specific ones).
  4. Click the Delete button.
  • 1
    Amazing, so simple! I didn't know about this app - very useful since I don't use iPhoto.
    – Jason
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 2:14
  • works for me on windows for IOS6. Connect, delete all pictures through the window folder
    – JinSnow
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 11:30

If Image Capture app won't help, here's a solution which must work for 99%

After giving up on studying various sources on this topics and trying to delete it from my iPhone 3GS (iOS 6.1.6), I gave a last chance and Vualá!

A quick tip: simply clean your DCIM folder via iFunBox. If not familiar with this keywords, read below:

Step by step Solution:

  1. backup your iPhone.. just in case, as never know...

  2. download latest iFunBox;

  3. install it on your PC, run it, connect your iPhone via USB;
  4. Click on GENERAL STORAGE, then get back to Media folder:

enter image description here

  1. Open DCIM folder:

enter image description here

  1. Select ALL folders in DCIM, right-click for sub-menu, choose DELETE:

enter image description here

  1. Wait until is done, disconnect you iPhone, go to Settings ... Usage, scroll down until you'll find Photos and tap on it. At last, you must see a 0 bytes of taken space:

enter image description here


  • p.s. Image Capture is a good way but not always it will be able to access all pictures stored on iPhone. In my case, this was the only solution, as nor Image Capture, nor iPhoto was showing me anything left to delete or any wipe it all options.
    – Muscaria
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 19:42

I can recomend iTools app. Select All pictures and Delete. Thats all.


Edit 2 (Summary): I totally agree with the original post that the left swiping + Delete seems to do nothing at all; the images and thumbnails are still stored on the iPad after tapping Delete. In my case I had a huge thumbnail database on the iPad / Camera roll after deleting the original images via USB. I located the thumbnail database files via USB and deleted them manually, solving my problem. In the following section I explain how I did it.

I'm having the same problem, but not through using Photostream. The iPad 3 / iOS 6 reports a 727 MB large camera roll, even when it's empty, and left swiping and tapping delete does nothing to reduce this number. I have been taking a lot of pics, and have exported them to a Linux computer, and then deleted them (via USB / the afs protocol). A huge thumbnail database was still on the iPad.

Edit 1: When mounting the iPad in Linux, I got two afs:// shares. I found three database files under one of them in the subfolder PhotoData/Thumbnails. The files were named (and sized) - presumably - according to the resolution of the images within them (don't remember exactly, but something like 100x100blablabla.ithumbs). I deleted three such files, but left the fourth alone (an XML manifest with a different naming scheme). When re-entering the Photos app on the iPad, all thumbs were gone from all albums including the Camera roll, and under Settings -> General -> Usage the Photos app had flown down the list, now being about 10-20 MB. When tapping an empty thumbnail, the original (large sized) images showed up. I proceeded to do some testing by taking new pictures and verifying that they turned up in Camera roll with their thumbs correctly displayed, and they did.

  • This isn't really a solution to the problem posed, so much as a comment. Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 14:06
  • @veil Flagging is preferable to downvoting, as it can be turned into a comment if enough people bring it to the Moderators attention.
    – stuffe
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 14:12
  • 1
    @stuffe Ahhhh, learn something new every day. Thank you. Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 14:14
  • Here's the hierarchy as I see it. 1) edit it if you can 2) downvote wrong, out of place, bad things. 3) flag things that are malicious, dangerous, mean. Mods can and do step in and delete non-answers, but better for the community to get people to see and change. I'd rather leave things up that allow the asker to see how others mis-took the question or the answerer to clarify things if it's not actively harming the site or the answerer made an honest attempt to help.
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 14:34
  • In response to the original post: Yes, I agree that the swipe left + Delete seems to do nothing. Moreover, it seems to me that the problem is twofold: Both the images themselves and the thumbnails located in separate database files in said subfolder don't get deleted as they should when tapping Delete.
    – Per
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 11:10

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