Why You Should Delete Your Photos

My clients are always asking me what to do when they run out of space. Both on their phones and their Macs. A few days ago my client from Arizona, Bobbi, called because her iPhone was full and she was about to go house hunting in a new city and needed to have plenty of space to take photos and videos.

She was worried that she would do something wrong and accidentally lose years worth of photos that were on her phone.

I don’t blame her! Who wants to lose photos like these? :)

So why was she scared?

Have you ever plugged your phone or iPod into your computer and it erased all your music? I’m sure you’ve at least heard of this happening to one of your friends. Well, this happened to Bobbi years ago and she was still worried something like this would happen again, but with her photos.

This is a real fear many people have. It’s not just you. Even years after that incident most people are paranoid about plugging in their phones into the computer.

I want to put those fears to rest and give you the confidence to plug in your iPhone or iPad, know they are copied and safe so you can clear off some space and start capturing more memories.

The first thing you need to know is what iTunes is doing when you plug your iPhone or iPad into the computer. 

  1. iTunes will not delete your photos automatically when you plug it into your computer!
  2. iTunes is not importing your photos for you.
  3. iTunes will always ask before deleting your music.

There are 3 simple steps to having confidence your photos are safe.

This is by no means the only way to accomplish this, but it’s probably the fastest and the way Apple intended. If you are using the brand new iCloud Photos service, these instructions are not for you. Another post to come about iCloud Photos for Yosemite and iOS 8.

**Steps 2 and 3 are optional, but recommended.

1. Import the photos to your computer - When you plug in your phone, iPhoto may pop up automatically and you you will see the photos that are stored on that device. That does NOT mean your photos are in iPhoto. YOU MUST CLICK IMPORT! If iPhoto doesn't pop up automatically just click on the icon and it should show you the photos on your device.

I use Adobe Lightroom to manage my photos so most of my photos have not been imported into this library.

2. Verify they have been copied - At this point you’ll want to click on the Photos button on the left or Events to make sure the items we selected were imported (copied.) After that, look further down the list in the left-hand column and click on your iPhone or iPad from that list. The photos you just imported should now be in the “Already Imported” section.

3. Back up your computer - This can be accomplished many different ways. I recommend using Time Machine or Carbon Copy Cloner to back up to an external hard drive. I usually buy these for a cheap backup, but I’ll never be caught without an online (or off-site) backup. I use Crashplan for that. It’s the fastest and most reliable online backup that I have encountered. It's only $59.99/year and you don’t have to worry about plugging anything in. Yes, I think Crashplan is better than Carbonite.

When you're ready to mass delete media from your device don't delete one by one! Use Image Capture! To find Image Capture, use Spotlight, the magnifying glass at the very top right hand corner of your Mac to search for the word Image.


You can highlight a range of photos using the Shift key, then hit the delete button at the bottom (circle-backslash symbol.)


This is really only scratching the surface when it comes to photos, but it should at least get you moving and able to free up some space on your devices and know that your photos are safe.

I know some of you have quite a mess (so to speak) of photos, so if you need further help, please reach out to me! Helping you sort out these sorts of things is why I do what I do!

If this post helped you out, please share it with your friends and family!

Question: Have you ever lost any of your photos? What are you doing now to prevent that happening again?