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How do I permanently delete from iCloud?

Answer

  1. Sign in to iCloud.com.
  2. Tap the iCloud Drive app.
  3. Select the files that you want to delete.
  4. Tap Trash.
  5. Open the iCloud Drive folder.
  6. Tap Recently Deleted.
  7. Select the folders or files that you want to delete.
  8. Tap Delete.

iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage service for iOS devices and OS X computers. You can use iCloud to keep your content in sync across your devices. For example, you can use it to store photos, documents you’ve created or edited on one of your other devices, mail account information (using the Mail application), calendars and reminders (using the Calendar application) or app data (such as a document open in an app). When you delete something from iCloud, it remains stored there until you manually remove it from all of your devices as well.

But unlike physical storage that you purchase from a retailer such as Amazon or Best Buy; which have return and exchange policies; Apple has no way to help users retrieve documents lost by accidently deleting from iCloud.

Here are 3 ways to permanently delete files from your iCloud account.

1. Go directly to the Apple web site and sign in, https://www.icloud.com/ then click on this link “Manage Storage” then click on your name at the top of the page, you will be able to view all documents stored in iCloud such as Photo Stream, Backups etc.. Simply press Delete for each document or whole folders that you want to remove permanently from iCloud. The next time you log on using a different device (for instance; if you sync photos with an iPhone) those documents will disappear forever and cannot be retrieved ever again (unless they have been backed up elsewhere).

2. Go to iCloud.com and login, then click on your name at the top of the page and then choose Manage Storage from the list that pops up. This is probably the easiest way to delete a single or multiple documents from iCloud all in one shot.

3. Use Elcomsoft Phone Breaker (free demo available) which allows you to perform a variety of forensic and law enforcement related tasks such as retrieving photos from iCloud backups, wiping phones remotely, searching emails by keywords or contacts info etc.. You can also permanently delete one or multiple documents directly using Elcomsoft Phone Breaker even if you don’t have their original passwords. In order for it to work; download the “grabber” first and install it on your PC/Mac. Use the grabber to download iCloud backups, or upload backed up content and then use the “Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker” application to permanently delete whatever you want from your iCloud account.

By default your photos and videos are “synced” in iCloud, which means that they will remain on the cloud until you permanently delete them from there. This is different than other services such as Dropbox where you can choose to “delete” a file without it actually being deleted for some amount of time (unless you have a pro subscription with DropBox).

To permanently remove files from iCloud go to Settings -> Photos & Camera and select Optimize iPhone Storage. You’ll get a list of all your photos/videos stored in iCloud. Select each one individually and tap Delete From iCloud (as shown below)

For iOS 10 and later, you do not have access to this feature unless you turn off optimization: Optimized storage – iCloud Photo Library


How do I disabled iCloud Photo Library?

This feature is enabled by default. You can have it turned off or back on again at any time.

To check if you are using this (and disable it), go to Settings -> Photos & Camera and make sure that the switch for iCloud Photo Library is set to OFF as shown below:

For iOS 10 and later, you do not have access to this feature unless you turn off optimization: Optimized storage – iCloud Photo Library

What happens when I delete from iCloud? Can I recover deleted files?

All we can say for certain is that all photos/videos which are selected for deletion using the method described above will be permanently removed from your iCloud account. Whether Apple is able to recover deleted files from their servers, we are not sure of at this time – if you try and do so, please contact us and let us know the outcome!

The best thing to do is make sure that your iPhone/iPad storage is optimized first by going to Settings -> Photos & Camera -> Optimize iPhone Storage, then select each photo/video individually and press Delete From iCloud before performing a factory reset on your device. This should ensure that you permanently remove all photos/videos which have been synced with iCloud before deleting it from there.

To check if you are using iCloud Photo Library (and disable it again), go to Settings -> Photos & Camera and make sure that the switch for iCloud Photo Library is set to OFF as shown below:

Do I lose any pictures if I disable iCloud Photo Library?

If you are using the default Photos app on your iPhone/iPad and have disabled the iCloud feature, you do need to make sure that all photos are backed up to your computer/photos account so that they are safe. You do this by going into Settings -> iCloud -> Photos and turning ON My Photostream:

Restoring via iTunes File Sharing or Offloading from Camera Roll does not copy any images permanently removed from iCloud (as mentioned above). This means that if you choose to turn off iCloud Photo Library, then restoring will not recover anything deleted after disabling it unless there is a backup for them saved on your computer. That said, if you turn it back ON again – all of your photos will automatically be synchronized to iCloud once more.

Options for permanently deleting backed up content are mentioned above in this post (in the section called “How do I remove one from Syncing/Photos & Camera/Documents and Data?”). This should only be done AFTER permanently removing files from iCloud using the method described above!

What is iCloud Photo Sharing?

Note: The new storage optimization settings do not affect images shared through iCloud Photo Sharing. To learn more about this feature, read How to share photos using iCloud Photo Sharing. “iCloud photo sharing” is an optional feature which allows you to sync photos from your Photos app with multiple other iOS/OS X devices and computers. You can create shared albums that are synced automatically across all of the connected devices and computers in your iCloud account (even those never connected to iPhoto or Photos). Other users can join a shared album by sending an invite via email address which you will need to approve before they can see any content. This is very useful for sharing but it will also backup any photos added to shared albums which you can later access from any device.

To use this feature, go to the Photos app and tap the Shared tab at the bottom of your library:

You will see dozens (if not hundreds) of shared images – these are organized by albums. At the top of each album is a field to invite other users/edit permissions. These albums cannot be deleted but they can be renamed or removed from iCloud’s photo sharing service by tapping Settings -> iCloud -> Photos in iOS 7 or 8 and then turning OFF iCloud photo sharing for your account:

If you want to delete a shared album, you need to do it on one computer connected to your iCloud’s “Photos” folder via iTunes File Sharing or through Photo Stream. This will not permanently remove the images shared in this album since they are still online within iCloud’s pool. All you need to do is delete them from a computer/iDevice that has access to all of the other images in the Photos app and they will disappear from all other devices/computers as well.

To share an image or photo using iCloud Photo Sharing, find one that you wish to share on your device (one that you took yourself) and tap it to bring up actions such as Copy Link (to view a large version on another device), Email, Message, Twitter etc – all of which will send out a link for others to view this picture:

In general though, sharing pictures via email is probably more useful than iCloud Photo Sharing. Not only do you not need to have everyone viewing the pictures on shared devices, (meaning any type of cell phone, laptop or tablet) but it is a lot easier to share photos via email than it is to send out links via text message and then finding/adding them all together in one place afterwards.

When sharing images with others through other services such as Flickr or Facebook – you may run into problems if those users begin accessing your images using iDevices that never had access to the original source image (which was imported from your computer). In this case, I usually delete the photo from my device and re-import it so that it comes in at full resolution. Otherwise, they will see scaled down versions of the original image which might appear pixelated.

To go about doing this, locate the photo you wish to delete (for example it may be in your Camera Roll or Saved Photos) and press “delete” on your device:

When prompted with the option to move/keep/delete, choose Move To -> Library (this is assuming that you are going to immediately reimport the file from its source folder):

Next, tap Edit at the bottom right of your library screen. You will see a list of all photos in your device’s gallery – WIDGETS appear when looking at certain versions of individual images because they were saved straight into a Photo Album without being copied directly into your Photos app library. All JPEG pictures/videos are imported as a widget – meaning that they are effectively always online even if the image itself has been deleted:

Similarly, photos that were copied directly to your Photos library from Photo Stream or an external computer will appear in your library (without a shortcut):

To locate the original picture, tap and hold on any photo until you see the menu appear at the bottom of your screen. You can then choose “Show In Finder” which will open up iPhoto if it is installed on your machine otherwise it will launch file explorer to find this specific file. This method works for both JPEG files and RAW formats:

Once in iPhoto (or finder), copy and paste this into iTunes File Sharing under a folder titled “Pictures” (which will be under the top source folder “iTunes Music” just below Apps on your iPhone or iPad). This process can also be completed by connecting your device to iTunes and dragging photo files into this folder. Once you have copied these photos back onto your device, they will appear in the original location from where they were imported – which is very useful when you are browsing all of the pictures that came directly off a camera since it is easy to lose track of which ones are originals and which ones may not have come directly off an iDevice:

Once you have re-imported all of the original images into the folders on your iDevice that contain them, try viewing them again. If they still appear as a widget, repeat this process and delete/import again until they appear in the library itself.

Also, note that photos copied over from a source folder on your computer (whether iCloud Photo Stream or any other location) will contain both metadata as well as videos if you have taken them with your device. However, applying filters in Aperture will only add effects to the JPEG image files – it won’t work with RAW files at all because there is no equivalent of Aperture on a desktop OS like Mac OSX:

When you begin viewing and editing RAW files in iPhoto, they will show up as a small preview that is missing the bottom half of the image. You can view these photos in full screen mode if you like by simply tapping on the “expand” icon at the top right of your device:

In order to do this however, you must make sure that both your original picture and edited version exist within one folder – otherwise when re-imported to your library it will appear as a widget instead of being replaced by the updated image file. To work around this process, in Aperture I recommend copying over only one RAW photo from each shooting session into a separate source folder such as Desktop´╗┐ (or any other location on your computer) before importing them back to iPhoto (or any other photo library app). This will ensure that you can use Aperture’s ‘Export with Previous’ option without having to save a new copy of the original RAW file and keeping the edited JPEG version in its place:

Alternatively, if you are using Adobe Lightroom to edit your images instead of Apple’s iPhoto application, open one of your RAW files into the software. You can see this being done in the video above starting at around 5 minutes in and will be completed by around 6 minutes in. Once opened, click on File -> Export Unmodified Original which will automatically create an untouched version of your image:

There is no need to export a “version” of your photo using this method since Lightroom will automatically make a copy of the original and add a suffix to it’s filename (Lr_Photos.LRTemplate will become Lr_Photos-1 or similar). Just make sure that you have not moved or deleted any of the original images after creating copies because Lightroom will continue to use the copy instead of trying to replace it with an updated version if they are no longer present.

How do I permanently delete from iCloud?

1. Sign in to iCloud.com.
2. Tap the iCloud Drive app.
3. Select the files that you want to delete.
4. Tap Trash.
5. Open the iCloud Drive folder.
6. Tap Recently Deleted.
7. Select the folders or files that you want to delete.
8. Tap Delete.

Will deleting iCloud delete everything?

You can delete your iCloud account, but you must also delete your Apple ID to do so. If you delete your Apple ID, you’ll lose access to myriad things like App Store and iTunes purchases, data storage, subscriptions, iMessage conversations. You’ll also lose other benefits from the company since deleting it will sever ties with its services such as Siri (a voice activated assistant) and easy use of the Find My Friends app that many people consider a necessity in this age of never-ending connectivity.

Can you permanently delete files stored in the cloud?

Some backup and file-sharing services allow you to delete files locally or on the server. From the Deleted Files folder, you can either restore them or permanently delete them.

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