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How to Recover Deleted Photos: Life hacks for Any Device

February 02

29 min. to read

Any data loss, especially photos, is like losing part of yourself. Until recently, your folder was filled with thousands of files depicting your childhood, wedding, Birthdays, vocations in different countries, and other pleasant memories, but now it is empty here.

Sound familiar, right? And it is all because of those unfortunate viruses, banal inattention, or accidental reformatting of the memory card. But don’t lose the last hope! The good news is that the problem can be easily solved. How? In this article, we’ll share valuable life hacks on how to restore deleted pictures on any device: smartphone, iPhone, or computer. 

What Should You Remember Before Recovering? 

If you notice, that your photos disappeared due to you accidentally deleted them or a virus did it, stop using the device. Why? If you continue to take pictures or perform other actions, the storage containing the allocated data may be overwritten. And this will lead to the inability to restore them. Below, we’ll consider whether is there a way to get deleted photos back. 

1. Recently Deleted Photo Recovery From an SD Card

The SD card is the most common place to store photos and videos. It can be found in almost any mobile device, from digital cameras to smartphones. Therefore, the issue of data loss on this electronic storage medium is quite familiar to every user. We recommend you pay attention to the several ways which will help you to recover pictures. 

First Steps that are Important to Know 

If you noticed that the photos are not displayed in a certain folder, try the following steps:

  1. Say “no” to panic. Remember one thing: this issue occurs with every person. And there is good news – it can be fixed. 
  2. Don’t shoot new photos and videos. Stop using the SD card as a place to save multimedia content. The more you’ll take pictures, that becomes less likely to return lost data. It may happen that you just write content over your deleted photos, thus hiding them deeper or even making their recovery impossible. So, don’t use the compact storage medium until the data loss is recovered to reduce the risk. 
  3. Make sure that the problem is really in the SD card itself. First, take out the SD card from the camera or smartphone, wait a few minutes, and back it into the gadget. Or do it with your or another computer. By using playback, check the viewing of photos. If they are displayed on the screen, then the issue may lie elsewhere. As practice shows, it may well be malfunctions with the card reader or computer’s USB. You can also try to read the memory card from the camera itself by inserting it into this gadget and connecting it to your computer via a USB cable. If files can not be found, the problem is hidden in the card itself. This means that you need to move on to the other retrieve deleted pictures actions. 

Method #1: Clean the SD Card from the Virus

Most people face deleted pictures due to the infection of the SD card with a virus. So, you need to destroy malicious files. There are two effective methods. 

Use an antivirus program

  1. After inserting your memory card into a card reader of your computer, start up the antivirus program that you usually use. 
  2. Direct the attention of the program to the SD card and scan it. 
  3. If you notice malicious files in the result of checking, remove them. 
  4. Check the SD card. Do you see that all the deleted pictures are in place? Congratulation! You have solved the problem.

Use the command prompt if you have Windows

  1. Open the command prompt. 
  2. Make actions in the following sequence: click Start  > select Run > type cmd > hit Enter. 
  3. By seeing the command window type here the following combination: attrib -h -r -s /s /d E:\*.*. After this, tap Enter. 
  4. Replace E with the drive letter assigned to the SD card. 
  5. Wait a bit until Windows is working. When the process will be finished, check your storage space. 

Method #2: Pay Attention to the Temporary Repository

Sometimes, when we use the SD card as a storage place on your computer, the deleted files can move to the temporary repository. How to see deleted photos? Everything is simple. It all depends on the operating system:

  • Windows. In order to see what data is in the temp folder, open the Start menu and type %temp% in the Search field. Then press Enter and the temporary folder will appear in front of you. 
  • macOS and Mac OS X. Open the Terminal application and then type the command open $TMPDIR. 

Method #3: Make Sure that Your Card is Not Corrupted 

If you inserted your card in the card reader and saw the error message “Please insert a disk into drive E” on the screen, try another reader. Does the problem with lost photos not disappear? So, the card may be corrupted. In this case, scan it with the help of the command attrib for Windows or the First Aid function of Disk Utility for Mac. Then give the card a name or a letter of the drive.

Method #4: Restore from a Backup

Consider yourself lucky, if you have created a backup of your SD card before data loss. Because you can easy to recover deleted photos thanks to backup and restore tools. They are usually built-in into operating systems. Let’s consider the effective methods in the examples of Windows and Mac: 

Mac’s Time Machine

  1. Connect the disk where the Time Machine backups are located to your gadget. 
  2. Open the folder where you last saw your multimedia content. 
  3. Open Time Machine. 
  4. Using screen navigation, find files you want to restore. 
  5. In order to view the necessary photos, press Space. 
  6. After you click on Restore, you’ll see your files that disappear. 

Backup and Restore on Windows 

If Windows is installed on your computer, use one of both tools: File History or Built-in Backup and Restore. They have intuitive hints which will help you to back up your photos in simple ways. 

Method #5: Seek Help from Special Software 

There is special data recovery software for both Windows and Mac systems. We recommend you pay attention to Disk Drill Data Recovery, which helps to solve the problem in the best way. It’s a reliable program that conquers its convenience and multi-functionality. This application allows you to recover almost types of files, moreover to 500 MB for free. Below, we’ll consider step-by-step instructions on how to retrieve deleted photos with the help of this tool on both Windows and Mac. 

Instruction for Windows

  1. Download and install Disk Drill on your computer. 
  2. Place the SD card inside the card reader and launch the program. 
  3. When you’ll see the list of the disks in front of you, select the SD card among them. 
  4. In order to find deleted files, click the Search for lost data button. 
  5. Among the displayed files, select the ones you want to return to their place. 
  6. Click the Recover button and select the folder in the special window where you want to place the restored photos. It’s important not to choose the original SD card. 

Instruction for Mac

  1. After downloading and installing Disc Drill on the desktop or laptop, connect the SD card to the device using the card reader. 
  2. Click on the program and choose the SD card from the drop-down list. 
  3. Click the Recover button and all lost files will appear on the screen. Select photos deleted from the SD card. 
  4. Choose a new place for saving recovered photos. As on Windows, it should not be an original SD card. 
  5. Click the Recover button. 

2. How to Restore Pictures from Cloud Storage

Cloud backup is a very useful thing that saves your important data in the cloud environment. So, if you use it, you can be sure that photos from your work or life will be in full order. But sometimes there are cases when images disappear from Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Mega, or another popular cloud environment. So, you can use one of the ways to recover lost data. Below, we’ll give you instructions for each of them.

Recover Images from Dropbox

  1. Signing in to your Dropbox account, click Files placed in the left sidebar. 
  2. Seeing Deleted Files on the left, click on it. 
  3. Check the boxes opposite files you want to return. 
  4. Click Restore and your photos might be able to recover.

Recover Images from OneDrive

  1. Select  Recycle from the navigation panel of your OneDrive account.
  2. Use the cursor to select the necessary photos and check the boxes next to them. 
  3. Click Restore. 

Recover Images from Mega

  1. Log in to your Mega account. 
  2. In the Rubbish Bin, you’ll see deleted images. View them and select the ones you want to restore. 
  3. Move the selected photos to the main cloud drive with the help Move button. 

Recover Images from Google Drive

  1. Being in your Google Drive, click on Trash, which is on the sidebar. 
  2. Find photos that you want to back. 
  3. Right-click on the item and select Restore. 

3. Returning Photo Content on Windows 

If you’re a Windows user who often loses data on your hard drive, it will be useful to know simple methods how to restore photos that we have prepared. Choose one of them depending on the situation and use it in the practice. 

Method#1: From the Recycle Bin 

You may just accidentally capture your photos along with unnecessary files when restoring order your computer. In this case, they all fell into the recycle bin. It’s a system folder that is located on the desktop. It is where deleted files are temporarily stored. This is where they are easiest to recover. To do this, you need to take the following steps: 

  1. Open the Recycle bin. 
  2. Find files you want to return and select them by mouse. 
  3. Right-click and select Restore from the drop-down menu. In this case, pay attention to the place where the files were before their deletion. You can do it by selecting Features from the same drop-down menu. 
  4. You can also photo back just by dragging them from recycle bin to the needed folder. 

Method#2: From Backup Files

Backing up your computer is a guarantee that your valuable data will be protected. Therefore, as we have already mentioned above, you’re very lucky if you have copies of your images. So, the problem of how to recover photos is quickly and easily solved by using the same Backup and Restore. Now we’ll share with you a detailed instruction: 

  1. Take storage media with the backup and connect it to your Windows computer. 
  2. Right-click the Window's Start button and then select actions in the following order: Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Backup and Restore. 
  3. Select Restore my files or Restore all user’s files. 
  4. Search photos you want to restore by using Browse for files or Browse for folders button. 
  5. Select the necessary data and click Restore. 

Method#3: Via Disk Drill Software 

Do you find that your photos are neither in the folder nor in the recycle bin? Then a special software will help you. There are many programs. But we recommend you pay attention to the Disk Drill recovery software. Above we have already written how it uses above. Here you do the same things as we mentioned. The only thing is that from the list of disks, select the disk on which your data was stored. 

4. How to Retrieve Photos on Mac

As in the case of Windows, there is also able to recover data. Below, we’ll consider the most common ways how to do it. The instructions here are similar to those we described earlier. 

Method #1: From the Trash Bin

  1. Open the Trash Bin.
  2. Find the photo you want to restore and select it. 
  3. Right-click on the file and select Put Back from the drop-down menu. Repeat the same for other files if they’re scattered in different folders, or select several deleted photos from one place using dragging the mouse cursor and doing the necessary actions for them. 
  4. Wait a few seconds and your content will return to its place. 

Method #2: Time Machine Backup 

Mac also has its own built-in backup and recovery of your photos tool – Time Machine Backup. If you used it before disappearing images, you can try to return data loss from here. We told how to do this in the part about how to get deleted photos back from the SD card. All you have to do is perform all the above steps in practice. 

Method #3: iTunes Backup 

This way is as effective as the others, but only if you have previously bucketed up your iTunes library on a flash drive, hard drive, or another external storage device. In order to recover data, you only need to do the following: 

  1. Choose the iTunes folder in the external drive. 
  2. Right-click on the folder and select Copy.
  3. Select a certain place and paste the iTunes library.
  4. Open iTunes by holding down the Option key. 
  5. When you’ll see the pop-up window with such prompts as Quit, Create Library, and Choose Library, click on the last. 
  6. Select the pre-prepared location where you pasted the iTunes library and click Open.
  7. Select the iTunes Library.itl file. 

Method #4: Via Software 

If you’re wondering how to get back deleted photos when you don’t see them not only in the folder but in the trash bin, the same program Disk Drill will come to the rescue. It is available for Windows and Mac. Select the version that is designed for Mac. And then repeat actions that we described in one part of the article. 

5. Getting Back Images on a Phone 

A mobile phone become an indispensable part of digital life. This smart gadget with tools based on AI is a photo and video camera, an editor, a phone book, and a mini-computer at the same time. Whether you’re an SMM specialist or just a photo enthusiast, you 100% store thousands of masterpieces, valuable memories, or interesting references from famous photographers on the mobile device. But your media files may disappear even on the latest model. No one is safe from this. However, the good news is that lost files can be recovered, despite it being more difficult than with Windows or Mac. Here are time-tested methods for both Android phones and iPhones. Now we consider each of them in detail. 

How to Recover Deleted Photos on an Android Phone 

Android is a popular operating system that is implemented in smartphones, tablets, e-books, and other modern gadgets. It’s especially popular among smartphones. As practice shows, most users of these devices use SD cards to increase the Android phone’s memory. If your data disappeared from this compact storage device, you can just follow one of the instructions we described in the first part. In all other cases, we suggest considering several options depending on the situation. 

Method#1: From the Google Photo app 

Google photos is the most common gallery app. It’s so-called Trash that safely stores deleted media files. But keep in mind that they are permanently deleted from storage for 30 days. As for backups, they are stored for 60 days. So you can restore them only if you fit into this period. Here is a detailed instruction on how to get back a picture you deleted:

  1. Open the Google photo app on your smartphone. 
  2. Move to the Library menu. 
  3. You’ll see buttons with 4 options: Favorites, Utilities, Archive, and Trash. Select and click Trash. 
  4. Find the photo that needs recovery. Then click on it and hold it down with the mouse. 
  5. You’ll see a checkmark appear in the upper corner of the image. If you want to restore several photos at once, mark them with check marks as well. Then tap Restore. 

Method #2: With the help of a special App 

Understanding how often photos are lost from an Android, programmers have developed many applications that can easily cope with this common problem. Dumpster, Recover Deleted Photos, and DiskDigger are the most effective. In order not to be sprayed on each, let’s look at the detailed steps of returning necessary files by DiskDigger free photo recovery software: 

  1. Download the app from Google Play Store, install it on your device, and launch it.
  2. If your phone is rooted, choose the memory partition and grant root access to the app. In case your device isn’t rooted, tap the Start basic photo scan button. 
  3. Select the type of files you want to return and scan appropriate images. 
  4. Save the found one picture or a lot of images to the app device.

Method #3: Recovering Deleted photos from the Android gallery

If you didn’t take care of the backup and more than 30 days have passed, the only hope is to restore images from the Android gallery with the help of DroidKit. This is a data recovery software that is very easy to use. It can recover data loss in three modes: Quick Recovery, Deep Recovery, and SD Card Recovery. Let’s take a closer look at Quick Recovery mode, as it is the easiest. 

  1. After downloading and installing of free version DroidKit on your computer, launch the program, move to the Data Recovery menu, and select Quick Recovery mode from the drop-down menu. 
  2. You’ll see 13 types of data. Check the box next to Photos and click Start. 
  3. Connect your smartphone to the computer with the help of a USB cable and click the Start. 
  4. The program will show you deleted photos from your phone’s gallery. Select the ones you want to recover. 
  5. Click To Device. 
  6. Select Export Path in the special field and click Save. 

Recover Deleted Images on iPhone 

iPhones are actively conquering the world too. But despite their high quality and performance, data loss also happens here. So, let’s look at the methods that will help you to return them. 

Method#1: Photo App

  1. Opening the photo app on your gadget, scroll down until you come across the Other Files sections. Select Recently Deleted here. 
  2. Tap Select and find the necessary photos from the digital space of the gadget. 
  3. Select images and tap on Recover Photo.  

Method#2: macOS backup

  1. Turn on your Mac and launch the Finder. 
  2. Connect the iPhone to the computer using a USB cable.  
  3. When you’ll see the location list, select iPhone. 
  4. Seeing the General tab, click Restore iPhone. 
  5. In order to allow the Finder to act, click the Restore button. 

Method#3: iCloud backup

  1. If you have an iCloud account, log in to it. 
  2. Select Photos. 
  3. Click on the Recently Deleted album. 
  4. Choose the images you want to return and click Recover. 
  5. Method#4: iTunes Backup
  6. Launch iTunes and attach your gadget to the computer due to the Apple cable. 
  7. Select the Restore Backup option. 
  8. Select the backup you wish to use. 
  9. Click Restore.

Tips to Avoid Content Loss 

  • We’ve just looked at methods of how to recover photos in different cases. Each of them is easy and very effective. But it’s better to prevent data loss than to spend time recovering it. For this purpose, we’ve prepared some important tips. Take note of them to prevent data lost in the future: 
  • Make backups. Make it a habit to create backups of your photos regularly: once a month, week, or day. Also, this procedure should be performed before each system upgrade or installation of new software. 
  • Don’t write new photos on the place, containing lost images. It can lead to damage or overwrite data loss. 
  • Use cloud storage. When using a smartphone or iPhone, set them up so that they automatically upload the photos you take to Google Photo, iCloud, or other cloud storage. 
  • Think twice before hitting that Delete. Hasty actions can cost a serious mistake and waste your time.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, deleting valuable photos on your smartphone, iPhone, or computer isn’t such a big tragedy. After all, the problem can be completely solved thanks to the effective methods we have described in detail. Better yet, remember how to prevent it and never make the same mistakes again. After all, time is a valuable resource. 

How to Recover Deleted Photos: Life hacks for Any Device | Skylum How-to(2)

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Written by

Svitlana Shramenko

Freelance photographer

Svitlana Shramenko is a freelance photographer and a professional copywriter with seven years of experience. She loves to travel and has been to many countries. The beauty of nature is what inspires Svitlana, and she loves to capture that beauty through her lens. She enjoys sharing her knowledge, so she creates easy-to-understand and expert articles for the blog that not only provide knowledge but also inspiration. She knows firsthand what art is and how to tell the story in a way that makes it interesting for the reader.

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How to Recover Deleted Photos: Life hacks for Any Device | Skylum How-to(14)