How to find and recover deleted photos on Android

How to find and recover deleted photos on Android

Google Photos app header logo

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Our smartphone cameras have made everyday photography a breeze, with most requiring nothing more than a point-and-tap to capture important moments. Not surprisingly, most people have packed gallery apps with photos of friends, family, pets, food, vacations, and so much more. It can be terrible to lose these photos due to accidental deletions, device failures, bugs and errors. Here’s how to find and recover deleted photos on Android.

Read more: How to recover deleted Android SMS messages on your Android phone


To find and recover deleted photos on your Android phone, you can check your cloud storage backup app, such as Google Photos, to see if you can still save the image. If you’ve accidentally deleted photos from an SD card or internal Android storage, you’ll need to rely on recovery tools and services.


Recover deleted photos from the cloud

Cloud storage backup is a great feature in a world where most of our data is now digital. As long as you remember to back up your files and photos, finding and recovering lost or accidentally deleted images should be quick and easy. We’ll use Google Photos as an example, but you can use many excellent photo cloud storage programs with recovery steps that should be similar.

If your primary gallery app is Google Photos, it will create folders for photos from each app, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and more. So even if you accidentally delete an image on another app, you might still be able to find it in Photos. Open the app and find the app directory. If the image is missing, check the Bin. Google will store backed up photos for 60 days and unbacked ones for 30 days. Go to the Library tab and tap Bin to find recently deleted photos.

An image delete may take a few minutes to sync and reflect in the app. If you can’t find a deleted photo in the Google Photos app, try going to to see if the image is still available. You can also the Bin section in the left menu.

Using Google Photos to recover deleted images depends on whether you have enabled cloud backup on your Android phone. It’s not too late to do this if you haven’t already, but you’ll need to use one of the other options on this list to find files that aren’t backed up.

To ensure your photos are backed up and linked to your Google Account, open the Google Photos app and tap your profile icon in the top right corner. Go to Phone Settings > Backup and switch on Support. Scroll down to Backup device folders to select the folders you want to store in the cloud. If you don’t have a Google One subscription, the 15GB of free storage may not be enough to keep photos at their original quality. In this case, tap Backup quality and choose Storage saver.

How to recover deleted photos from your SD card or Android internal storage

If you don’t have a cloud backup, the most important thing to remember is to stop using your phone immediately to have a chance to recover deleted files and photos. In simple terms, the data is not completely lost when you delete a photo from your SD card or Android internal storage. Instead, Android marks the space and makes it available to overwrite if a new file needs storage.

The file or photo cannot be recovered once this “empty” space is overwritten. Therefore, it is best to put the phone in airplane mode to prevent it from downloading new data. And make sure you don’t take new photos or install new apps while trying to recover a photo.

You’ll have to rely on third-party Android data recovery apps to find lost photos if you don’t have a cloud backup. These applications work by looking at the “empty” space to recover deleted files. The best options are those with a Windows or Mac app, so you can plug in your phone without using it.

Many good third-party Android recovery programs exist, such as Android Data Recovery, Dr. Fone, Tenorshare and FonePaw. We will use FonePaw as an example because it can help recover files from an SD card (without removing the card from the phone and Android internal storage.

How to use an Android recovery app to find deleted photos

fonepaw welcome screen

Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

Download and install the FonePaw app. You will be prompted to connect your Android phone and enable USB debugging. On the phone, check Settings > About Phone and tap the Build number several times until a pop-up message says You are now a developer. Then check Settings > System > Developer Options and switch on USB Debugging. Don’t forget to type Allow when the phone asks to enable debugging. If you miss the popup, disconnect and reconnect your phone.

fonepaw recovery file selection

Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

fonepaw phone permissions

Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

You will get an authorization (permissions) request on your phone to allow FonePaw to find and recover deleted files. If you’re looking for photos, you can just choose to authorize access to the phone’s storage. Click Scan authorized files. “I authorized” will grant the app access to all permissions.

fonepaw recover photos

Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

Wait for the application to complete its scan. Select the files you want to restore and click Repair to restore them. Use the switch at the top to select Show only deleted items to find your missing files. If you still can’t find it, FonePaw has a Deep scan option. But you can use it only if you have a rooted phone.

Read more: How to recover a lost or hacked Google account

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a factory reset will wipe everything on your Android phone. You will lose all files, photos and other data not backed up to the cloud.

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