How-To

How to Empty Trash on iPhone

iPhone Trash featured

Some iPhone apps have a Trash folder that you can use to restore items before they’re gone forever. Learn how to empty your trash on your iPhone here.

Apple phones have historically been a little bit stingy when it came to storage space. Whilst things have improved, you may still find that your iPhone memory can fill up fairly quickly.

If you delete things such as photos or mail messages, however, you may find that your free storage space doesn’t seem to increase at all. That’s because, for certain apps, your iPhone will keep deleted files on your phone for 30 days or more. This gives you the chance to restore the files if you change your mind.

If you want to free up space now rather than wait for a month, then here’s how to empty trash on iPhone.

Where Do I Find the Trash on iPhone?

Unlike a Mac or Windows computer, an iPhone doesn’t have a central Trash folder where everything that you delete ends up. However, some of the native apps on iPhone do include their own folders where deleted files get stored for a period before they are deleted.

The four apps that keep hold of deleted files for a while before they get completely removed are Mail, Photos, Notes, and Files. To empty this trash, you’ll need to do it in each specific app; there’s no way to delete all of these files in one go.

How to Empty Trash in Mail

If you delete messages in Mail, they will end up in a trash folder. How long those messages stay in the trash folder will depend on the type of mail account you’re using and its specific settings.

If you want to manually delete these messages, you can do so through your iPhone settings.

To empty Trash in Mail:

  1. Open the Mail app.
  2. Scroll down and tap Trash for the account containing the messages you want to delete (or Bin if you’re using UK English on your iPhone).
    iphone mail trash folder
  3. In the top right-hand corner, tap Edit.
    iphone edit mail
  4. If there are multiple items to delete, tap Select All.
    select all mail iphone
  5. At the bottom of the screen, tap Delete.
    iphone delete mail
  6. The Trash folder is now empty. Repeat this process for any other email accounts you want to empty.

How to Empty Trash in Photos

When you delete a photo in the Photos app, it isn’t removed straight away. Instead, it is moved to the Recently Deleted album. They will stay there for up to 40 days. After this point, they will be removed entirely.

If you would prefer to remove these images sooner, you can manually delete them from the Recently Deleted folder.

To empty trash in Photos:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, tap Albums.
    iphone photos albums
  3. Scroll to the very bottom and tap Recently Deleted. You may need to unlock this folder with your passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID.
    recently deleted photos iphone
  4. To remove all the photos, tap Select in the top right-hand corner.
    iphone select photos
  5. In the bottom left-hand corner, tap Delete All.
    iphone delete all photos
  6. Confirm that you want to delete the photos—this cannot be undone.
    confirm delete photos iphone

How to Empty Trash in Notes

The Notes app can be set up to share your notes through iCloud or through your email accounts. However, you can also opt to save notes to your iPhone. Any notes deleted from the On My iPhone folder are placed in a Recently Deleted folder to give you the chance to restore them again if you change your mind.

Deleted notes will eventually be deleted permanently, but if you want to free up space now, you can manually delete the notes in the Recently Deleted folder.

To empty trash in Notes:

  1. Open the Notes app.
  2. Under the On My iPhone section, tap Recently Deleted.
    iphone recently deleted notes
  3. In the top right-hand corner, tap Edit.
    iphone edit notes
  4. At the bottom of the screen, tap Delete All.
    iphone delete all notes
  5. Confirm that you want to delete these notes. Once you make this decision, you won’t be able to undo it.
    iphone delete note
  6. Your notes trash is now empty.

How to Empty Trash in Files

If you have files stored on your iPhone in the Files app, then when you delete these files, they will move to a Recently Deleted folder, in a similar way to photos in the Photos app. You can manually delete these files if you want to get rid of them straight away. This doesn’t apply to items sent from your iCloud Drive, however.

To empty trash in Files:

  1. Open the Files app.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, tap Browse.
    iphone files browse
  3. Tap Recently Deleted.
    recently deleted files iphone
  4. In the top right-hand corner, tap the Three Dots icon.
    more menu files iphone
  5. Tap Select.
    select files iphone
  6. At the bottom of the screen, select Delete All.
    delete files iphone
  7. Confirm that you want to delete the files; you will not be able to undo this.
    iphone confirm delete files
  8. Your Files trash will now empty.

Maximize Your iPhone Storage

Learning how to empty trash on iPhone allows you to free up storage space without waiting for these files to delete by themselves. There are plenty of other ways you can free up storage space on your iPhone if it’s running low.

If your iPhone is full of text messages with large attachments, you can manually delete your messages or set your phone to automatically delete old ones. If you’ve hidden apps that you don’t really use, they still take up space on your iPhone. You can delete hidden apps to free up some more room.

You can also offload unused apps if you think that you might want to use them again in the future.

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