how to delete your google photos

Facebook, Instagram, and Google Photos are all wonderful platforms for storing and sharing your photos.

But if you are concerned that having your photos online will affect your internet privacy, this guide will show you how to delete your Google Photos.

To get started, select from the options below.


Jump to…

Google Photos and your privacy
Delete photos from your device (with Google Photos backup)
Delete photos from your device and Google accounts
Restore deleted Google Photos
Do more to protect your internet privacy


Google Photos and your privacy

Google Photos is a free photo and video storage service that provides unlimited space and automatic file backup.

While the service and app offer an easy way to store your favorite memories online, you shouldn’t jump in before reading the Google Terms of Service.

For example, by using Google Photos, you are granting Google “a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

While Google maintains that it will secure your permission before using your content for commercial/promotional services, you should know that the company will use what you store online to learn about your preferences and show you targeted ads. Learn how to opt out of seeing personalized ads here.

Is Google Photos safe to use?

In a word, yes. Google Photos is a secure service for storing your images and videos. However, the questions you have to consider are:

  • How much do you trust Google with your personal data?
  • Are you willing to give up some internet privacy for added media storage convenience?

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Delete photos from your device (with Google Photos backup)

This option allows you to delete photos from your device while keeping cloud copies in your Google Photos library.

Step 1: Open your Google Photos app.

Mobile device screen with Google Photos app highlighted.

Step 2: Tap on Menu  > Settings > Back up & sync.

Settings menu with Back up & sync highlighted.

Step 3: Toggle the switch for Back up & sync ON.

Back up & sync screen showing toggle being turned on.

Step 4: Return to the main app screen. If you have a lot of photos, you may need to wait for them to be backed up. An item that has been backed up will not display the item is not synced icon icon.

Step 5: Tap on Menu (≡) > Settings > Free up device storage and follow the instructions.

Settings menu with Free up device storage highlighted.

Step 6: To access the cloud copies of your photos, go to the Photos section of the app. Enjoy!

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Delete photos from your device and Google accounts

This option will delete photos from your Google Photo account and any device that syncs to your Google Photos library. If you only want to delete photos from your device but maintain a copy online, follow the instructions for deleting photos on your device only.

Step 1: Open your Google Photos app.

Mobile device screen with Google Photos app highlighted.

Step 2: Tap on Menu  > Settings > Back up & sync.

Settings menu with Back up & sync highlighted.

Step 3: Toggle the switch for Back up & sync ON.

Back up & sync menu showing how to toggle setting to on.

Step 4: Tap and hold a photo you want to delete. Repeat this for every photo you want to delete.

Google Photos screen showing how to select photos for deletion.

Step 5: Tap on the Trash icon (tap the bin icon) to delete the file(s).

Google Photos screen with trash icon highlighted.

Made a mistake? If you deleted your photos by mistake, you can recover them within 60 days (but no longer). Find out how in the next section.

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Restore deleted Google Photos

Accidentally deleted some photos and need to get them back? Not to worry!

The good news is that your deleted photos can be recovered within 60 days. Here’s how:

Step 1: Open your Google Photos app.

Mobile device screen with Google Photos app highlighted.

Step 2: Tap on Menu (≡) > Trash (tap the bin icon). You will see all your deleted photos here.

Trash screen showing deleted images.

Step 3: Tap and hold the photos you want to restore. Then tap the Restore (undo iconbutton.

Trash screen with images selected for restoration and Restore icon highlighted.

Note: If it’s been more than 60 days since you deleted your photos, there is nothing you can do to restore it.

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Do more to protect your internet privacy

Wondering what else you can do to enhance your internet privacy? Here are some steps you can take.

  1. Use ExpressVPN. While “pausing” Google Web & App History prevents Google from collecting data about you, it doesn’t prevent your ISP from tracking what you’re doing online and potentially sharing it with corporations and governments. To hide your online activity from your ISP, use a VPN like ExpressVPN.
  2. Use Tor Browser. Tor hides your location and online activities from anybody doing network surveillance or traffic analysis, so your internet activity is difficult to trace back to you. It’s one of your best bets for maintaining anonymity online. To maximize the effectiveness of Tor, be sure to read these tips: Want Tor to really work?

Safe browsing, everyone!

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Want more help with de-cluttering your online life? Check out ExpressVPN’s guides on:

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