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How to Empty Trash on iPhone

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If you have ever used a computer you will know that there is a recycling function to store items that you have deleted. It’s called Recycling Bin for Windows PCs. It’s a Trash for Mac computers.

What about iPhones running Apple iOS mobile operating systems? Are there apps that can recycle files you try to delete? How do you permanently delete items in order to clear up space?

This is what I will be covering in this article. This article will cover everything you need about iPhone trash, including detailed instructions for how to empty it.

The guide below is applicable to all iPhone models provided your iPhone runs iOS 10 or higher (find out more by tapping Settings > General > Software update). If your iPhone has a newer iOS version, you may see the screenshots below differently.

Table of Contents

Is there trash on the iPhone?

The answer is no, there is not a trash app for an iPhone. For those who are not familiar with the iOS world, it might seem a little surprising.

My personal belief is that there’s a reason modern smartphones don’t offer this feature. My suspicion is that when people want to delete something they really mean to do so permanently.

But there’s a “Recently Deleted” Folder

Many users don’t know how to do it. Apple introduced a new feature in iOS 10, more precisely since iOS 8. It is called “Recently deleted” and has been integrated into many apps such as Photos, Notes, and others. This feature functions very similarly to Recycle Bin on a PC.

Only the difference is that items in “Recently Deleted”, only keep them for 40 days. This means that your iPhone will delete any items in this folder on day 41, just as you empty the Recycle Bin.

How do you delete apps that are not needed?

It’s easy to delete apps that you don’t use. Tap on the app and wait for the background to dim. Then, tap the “Delete App” button. You’re done!

It is impossible to retrieve apps that you have already deleted. They are permanently deleted once you have removed them. You will need to go to the App Store to get them back.

It’s very simple so I won’t show you how to do this.

How do I delete “Trash” from Photos App?

As I mentioned, the Photos app feature is “Recently deleted”.

How do you find it? Tap on Photos, then scroll down until you see the trashcan icon called “Recently Deleted”. (See the screenshot below).

Tap on it to see the photos or videos you have erased and the days iOS will keep them.

If you are unable to find the photos and videos that you have removed, it is likely they have been deleted after the 40-day grace period.

To free up storage space, select media files and click the “Delete All” button in the upper left corner.

They will still take up space if they are deleted. You may not be aware of this trick, and wonder why the photos aren’t deleted from their original space.

This Recently Deleted folder is the key to unlocking the secret.

You have accidentally removed some items. It is never too late to retrieve them. For more information, see How to Recover Deleted Photos from iPhone.

How do I delete emails from Mail App?

If you’re new to iOS’s Mail app, here’s how you can permanently delete an email.

Step 1: Open the Mail App. Open the Mail app. Tap “Edit” at the top right to select multiple emails and then hit “Delete” (as shown in the screenshot).

You can swipe right and tap on the red icon to remove an email. Or, view the email and click the “Trash” button at the bottom (screenshot to the right).

Step 2: Go back to Mailboxes. Tap on Trash and select the email you wish to permanently delete. Hit “Delete”

It can be time-consuming, I get it. If you need to delete hundreds of emails, it can be. iOS 10 does not have a Delete All option.

If IMAP is used for your email, which most likely you do, logging into your email account through a web browser is a better option to delete multiple emails. Go to Gmail.com if you use Gmail.

It would be easier to empty mailboxes in batches. These emails will also be removed instantly from your Mail app.

You may have accidentally deleted important emails. You might be able to retrieve them later.

Our top iPhone data recovery software is reviewed.

Pro tip: If you are deleting emails to free up space on your iPhone, clearing out offline copies of emails could be a good way to do so. This can be done by simply deleting your email accounts and adding them again. This post has the #8 tip.

How do I permanently delete notes from the Notes app?

The Notes app has a similar feature to the Photos app: a “Recently deleted” option.

After selecting notes, tap to erase them (screenshot to the left). They will then go to the Recently Deleted section (screenshot in middle). Tap on it to see a warning that “Notes are permanently deleted following 30 days.”

Click “Delete All” to select them again.

For step-by-step instructions on how to retrieve iPhone notes if you have accidentally deleted them, please refer to this article.

Last words

The Trash app on iPads and iPhones doesn’t allow you to recycle any content that you choose to remove, unlike on computers.

You may need to take extra steps to permanently delete files and apps. This guide is hoped you find it useful.

It might take some time for new users to get to know iOS. This may be because iOS is different than other operating systems.

The manual can be helpful in speeding up your learning curve. Welcome to iOS, and enjoy using your iPhone.

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