How to Delete Photos from Phone but Not from Google Photos

Since photos and videos always occupy a large amount of internal storage of iPhone/Android, it is a great idea to delete photos from the phone but not from Google. This article is a guide on how to clean photos from devices while you can still view them on Google Photos.

Myra updated on Feb 01, 2024 | Home > iOS & Mac Topics

"Can I delete photos from the phone but not from Google Photos?" Of course, you can back up the photos to the cloud storage and make the photos and videos accessible across the shared devices.

This article provides three methods on how to delete media files to free up your storage while viewing the uploaded pictures using the Google Photos app or the website and instructs you to recover the accidentally deleted photos. Also, it offers an alternative way to keep your photos with data transfer software - EaseUS MobiMover.

Three Methods to Delete Photos from Phone But Keep in Google

Recording the best moments of life as photos and saving them to our phones is so convenient for sharing them with friends. But you can't do it anymore when you almost run out of internal storage. Therefore, you can follow the three methods below to make the media files available and clean your Android or iPhone.

🔦Method 🔍Effectiveness 📱Difficulty
Back Up Photos Manually upload photos and videos to Google Photos and delete them from your device's Photos app. Easy
Free Space Feature Free Up Space will remove all the device copies of backed-up photos at once. Easy
Delete from Device If you want to remove selected photos, you can use the native Delete from Device feature. Easy


  • Enable your Wi-Fi or cellular data.
  • Have your Google account and password ready.
  • It may take some time to back up your photos and videos to Google Photos, so ensure enough battery.

1️⃣Back Up Photos and Delete Them from the Device

Photos take up storage space on iPhone or Android, and it is a great idea to delete them from your device only while you still have access to them on the cloud services. You can manually upload precious or personal photos and videos to Google Photos and delete them from your device.

Step 1. Open Google Photos, long-press the photo to select the items, and click the Back Up button.

back up photos to google photos

Or, go to Profile > Photo Settings > Back up and sync > Turn on the toggle to upload all photos and videos from this device to your Google account.

back up photos to google photos

Step 2. Then, the backup process starts automatically. Once the backup process ends, go to your Photos/Gallery app on your phone. Select the photos you want to remove from your device.

Tip: If you are trying to free up internal memory, delete them from the Recently Deleted folder of the Photos app on your phone. Otherwise, they will continue to take up storage on your phone until they are deleted automatically after 30 days.

2️⃣Free Space Feature with Google Photos

Google Photos comes with a native feature that helps you to delete items to make more storage on iPhone 14/13/12/11 or your Android phone. When you activate Free Up Space, it will remove all the device copies of backed-up photos. This method is so safe that it will not disturb the pictures that haven't been backed up, which will remain on your phone.

How to perform Free Up Space feature:

Step 1. Open Google Photos on your device, tap the three-bar icon near the search bar, and select Free Up Space.

free up space

Step 2. A window will pop up and inform how many items will be deleted. Confirm the information and tap Delete.

delete photos from phone

3️⃣Delete from Device Feature

The above method removes the device copy for all the photos from the backup. If you want to remove selected photos, you can use the native Delete from Device feature.

Google Photos designs two delete buttons: one is to remove photos from both the phone and Google Photos; the other is to swipe up photos from your device only. When you perform the Delete from Device feature, only the device copy will be removed, as the feature's name says. Since the photos are saved to Google Photos, you will still see them as a cloud copy on your phone in the Google Photos app.

Step 1. Open Google Photos and select the photos you want to delete.

Step 2. You will notice a Delete from Device option at the bottom of the screen. Hit it, and confirm the deletion.

delete photos from device

Note: Before you delete photos and videos from your device only, you can double-check whether the selected items are successfully uploaded to your Google account.

double check uploaded pictures

An Alternative Way to Keep Your Photos Safely

Google Photos is a great tool to back up all your pictures and videos but has limited photo storage. Here, an alternative software is EaseUS MobiMover, an iPhone data manager. When you need to free up space on your iOS device, EaseUS MobiMover is a good helper because it lets you save space while keeping your photos/videos accessible.

What If I Accidentally Delete Photos from Google Photos

Accidentally delete photos from Google Photos? Don't worry! Google Photos provides a recycle bin to restore recently deleted pictures.

Step 1. To access the Bin, you need to open Google Photos and tap the three-bar icon at the top of the screen.

access bin in google photos

Step 2. Choose the desired photos and hit Restore.

Note: Since you are dealing with photos and cloud services, it is suggested to try the above methods for a handful of photos first. Once you ensure they are safe in Google Photos, you can delete the remaining items simultaneously.


There are three methods to delete photos from a phone but not from Google Photos. If you consider making more storage of your phone, apply these fixes to solve the problem. Also, an alternative choice for Google Photos is EaseUS MobiMover, which can back up your iPhone and transfer data from your iPhone to your computer to save space.

Related Questions on Deleting Photos from Devices Only

1. Does Google Photos automatically delete photos?

Yes, Google Photos can delete your photos automatically, but this only happens when you turn on Smart Storage. This feature only deletes the backed-up items if your photos are saved for 60 days, or your device's storage is less than 25%.

2. When you delete photos from your phone, do they get deleted from Google Drive?

If you have backed up photos and videos to Google Drive, when you delete them from your phone, they don't get deleted from Google Drive. You can view the photos and videos, including the removed ones from your phone.

3. How do I delete photos from my iPhone but not the iCloud?

Open Settings > User Name > iCloud > Photos > Disable iCloud Photos. Then, you have already turned off the syncing between iPhone and iCloud, so you can safely delete photos from your iPhone but not iCloud.