Step-by-Step Guide on How to Empty Trash on iPhone: Free Up Storage Now

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Unknowingly to many, a significant amount of iPhone storage can be consumed by junk files and unwanted data that lurk in the trash or recently deleted folders of your device. It is critical for the health of your iPhone and for the smooth running of applications to periodically empty the trash. That’s because these unwanted files can have an impact on your iPhone’s operating capacity, processing speed, and overall performance. This guide will serve as a comprehensive tool to help you understand how to empty trash on an iPhone efficiently.

Understanding iPhone Storage

Before we dive into explaining how to empty the trash, it’s crucial to have an understanding of how iPhones organize and store data. iPhones internally categorize data based on type like apps, photos, videos, mail, etc. Each category is subjected to unique data storage and management principles.

The ‘Trash’ or ‘Recently Deleted’ folder is a part of this data hierarchy, acting as a provisional storage space for files you choose to delete. Files consigned to this folder are not instantly removed from your storage, instead they stay there for a period of time before being permanently deleted. The primary role of this process is to allow you to restore files if you change your mind or deleted something by mistake.

The continuous accrual of deleted files in the trash, however, can affect your iPhone’s functionality and efficiency by taking up valuable storage space.

Locating the Trash on your iPhone

The Trash or Recently Deleted folder can be found in various applications on your iPhone, such as Photos, Mail, and Notes. The location of this folder varies for each app depending on the app’s design and features.

For instance, in the Photos app, the Trash is labeled as the ‘Recently Deleted’ album, while in the Mail app, it is simply marked as ‘Trash’. Therefore, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with these variations for a more holistic understanding.

How to Empty Trash on iPhone Photos App

Emptying trash in the Photos app involves the following steps:

1. Tap on the Photos app to open it.
2. Scroll down and tap on the ‘Recently Deleted’ album.
3. Tap on ‘Select’ at the top-right corner.
4. Tap on ‘Delete All’ at the bottom-left corner.
5. Confirm deletion by tapping on ‘Delete x Items’.

Doing so will permanently delete these items and they will not be recoverable. Therefore, be sure that you no longer need these items before proceeding.

How to Empty Trash on iPhone Mail App

To empty the trash in the Mail app, follow these steps:

1. Open the Mail app.
2. Tap on ‘Mailboxes’ at the top-left corner.
3. Tap on ‘Trash’.
4. Tap on ‘Edit’ at the top-right corner.
5. Tap on ‘Delete All’ at the bottom-right corner.

Again, take care to ensure that you do not need these mails before you delete them, as the action is irreversible.

Emptying Trash in Other iPhone Apps

In addition to the Photos and Mail apps, you can also empty trash in Notes, Safari, and other apps. The process of deletion in these apps, however, can slightly differ. For instance, in Notes, you need to open the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder and manually select each note to delete, whilst Safari requires you to clear browsing history and website data.

Setting iPhone to Auto-Empty Trash

In some iPhone apps, you can set your device to automatically delete items from the Trash after a certain period of time. This feature can be handy; however, it also runs the risk of unintentionally deleting files you might need later. Hence, ensure you only set auto-deletion for apps where you are confident that you won’t require the deleted items later.

Utilizing Third-Party Apps to Empty Trash on iPhone

There are third-party apps available that can help manage and empty trash on your iPhone, like iMyFone Umate Pro, PhoneClean, etc. These apps are specifically designed to efficiently optimize your device storage. However, be cautious while using these apps, as they may not provide the level of data security offered by Apple’s native apps.

Warnings and Things to Consider Before Emptying Trash

Before permanently deleting items, consider whether you might need them later. It is also crucial to regularly back up your iPhone data as a precautionary measure. Explore options like iCloud or iTunes for easy backup solutions.


Regularly emptying trash on iPhone is crucial for the long-term performance and efficiency of your device. Getting into the habit of managing and removing unwanted data not only optimizes storage but also boosts the overall functionality of your iPhone.


Here are the answers to commonly asked questions about emptying trash on iPhone:

What happens when I empty my trash on iPhone?

When you empty your trash on iPhone, you permanently delete items that were previously deleted but stored in the ‘Trash’ or ‘Recently Deleted’ folder. Once emptied, these items cannot be recovered.

Can I recover items once my trash has been emptied?

Items can be recovered from the ‘Trash’ or ‘Recently Deleted’ folder within 30 days of deletion or until getting emptied. Once the trash has been cleared, it is generally not possible to recover these items.

How often should I empty my trash?

The frequency for emptying trash greatly depends on your usage. However, it’s a good practice to clear your trash at least once a month to maintain optimal storage space.

Why can’t I see a trash or recently deleted folder on my iPhone?

Not all apps on iPhone have a ‘Trash’ or ‘Recently Deleted’ folder. For those that do, like Photos, Mail, and Notes, the folder is located within the app’s specific settings or options.

Can I set my iPhone to empty trash automatically?

Yes, some apps like Mail allow you to set your iPhone to automatically empty the trash after a specific time period.

Which third-party app is recommended for emptying iPhone trash?

There are several third-party apps like iMyFone Umate Pro and PhoneClean that can help you efficiently manage and clear out the trash on your iPhone. Nonetheless, always check the reputation and security standards of an app before deciding to use it.