How to quickly save the photos you love and delete the rest.
If you’re a human living in America, you most likely take pictures every day with your iPhone. Some are must-saves, like family pictures. But others are totally random that you’re sending to a friend once, then never needed again.
After a few years, all these photos are swirled together into one huge feed, making it hard to find the photos you love and meant to cherish! Plus, all those junky photos are taking up a lot of storage on your phone, causing you to pay monthly for more space.
So, this year I started the adventure of clearing out my iPhone photos. In January of 2019 I started out with 19,000 photos on my phone. Now, I’m almost done and currently have 2,102 photos, which I should be able to finish in a couple hours. Let me show you exactly how I did it.
Step 1: Choose a Storage Service to Save Photos
I don’t recommend using iCloud to store photos. If you keep photos in the Photos app, it’s likely to become cluttered again quickly. So, I store all my most-loved photos in OneDrive. Other options include DropBox or Google Photos. I can still access my saved photos on my phone in the OneDrive app.
We pay $99/year, which includes 5 accounts that get 1TB of storage each (that’s 1,000 GBs!). My entire computer also automatically backs up to my OneDrive account, so all my computer files are always safe.
I downloaded the OneDrive app to my iPhone and created folders for my photos. I kept it simple and created one folder for each year of photos. I also created a folder for important text message screenshots and extra-special events, like Griffin’s birth.
Make sure you uncheck the “Camera Upload” options, so your iPhone photos don’t automatically upload to OneDrive. Instead, each week I sort through the photos I took and delete any that I don’t want to keep.
Step 2: Save the Photos to Keep
The fun begins! In the Photos app, go to the Photos tab in the bottom left corner. This is where it sorts your photos by date instead of one giant block. It’s much easier to sort photos here than in the Albums > All Photos. I recommend working from oldest to newest, so scroll allll the way to the top.
In the top right corner click Select and start clicking the photos you want to keep. When using OneDrive, you can only upload 30 photos from your phone at a time, so I would go through them until I hit 30 photos, then click the share button in the bottom left corner, then choose OneDrive.
From there, I navigate through OneDrive to find the folder that I want to upload the pictures into. After clicking OneDrive, your iPhone will have to prepare the photos, which may take a few minutes. That’s why it’s good to do this while you’re watching TV or a movie. Just make sure your phone screen doesn’t turn off.
After clicking Upload Here, it may take a few more minutes for OneDrive to upload the files.
Once the photos finish uploading, I go back to Photos and select the next 30 pictures I want to keep. I repeat this process until I get through about 6 months worth of photos. Then, I start to delete the photos I don’t need!
Step 3: Delete Photos in Bulk From Your iPhone
Now, the real fun starts! Because you’ve already saved all the photos you want to keep, you can delete them in mass!
In the Photos tab, click Select in the top right corner, then select groups of photos by date. Select all the photos up until the date you have saved to OneDrive.
Then, click that trash can in the bottom right corner and delete your photos! This part is super satisfying.
Now, rinse and repeat until you delete all the photos on your phone.
Step 4: Regular Maintenance
Each week, repeat this process and zero out your Photos app. By the time you have your entire library cleared out, it should only take you 5-10 minutes each week to maintain your photos. Unless, of course, you went on a big vacation or had a baby.
How long does clearing out Photos take?
I have a lot of large photos on my phone that were taken with our DSLR camera, so it takes me anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours to sort through, save, and delete one year’s worth of photos. It helps to not get too caught up in which photos to keep. You only need 1 copy of a family photo from an event – don’t save 2-3 photos because you can’t tell who’s blinking. Force touch the photo when in selection mode to see it full size. If you saved the version with one person blinking, it’s not the end of the world. Really – your world will not crumble. Pick a photo and move on.