How to Batch Delete iPad Photos Using Image Capture

| MGG Answers

The iPad is great for viewing photos, but not so great for managing them. One area in particular that needs improvement is deleting large numbers of photos.

How to Bulk Delete iPad Photos Using Image Capture

When viewing an iPad’s camera roll, a user can indeed delete photos but the process is tedious: press “Edit” on the right side of the menu, then tap each photo you wish to delete, then press the red “Delete” button. This works fine for occasionally deleting a small number of photos, but what if you want to clear hundreds, or even thousands of photos from your iPad? Don’t sit there and tap each photo; we have a handy trick to share!

How to Bulk Delete iPad Photos Using Image Capture

Note that we’re not talking about deleting all photos on your iPad. That can be easily accomplished with a restore. Today’s tip focuses on removing large numbers of photos while still preserving others on your device.

How to Batch Delete Photos on Your iPadTo perform this feat, Mac Geek Gab listener Craig suggests using the Image Capture app, located in your Applications folder. This app is designed for no-frills importing of images from digital cameras, mobile devices, and scanners, but it also allows you to selectively delete images from these devices.

To get started, connect your iPad (or your iPhone or iPod touch; this tip works for all of them) to your Mac via the appropriate 30-pin or Lightning connector. Apps like iTunes and iPhoto will likely automatically open. Ignore them. Instead, head to your Applications folder and launch Image Capture.

Select your iPad from the Devices section on the left side of the Image Capture window and you’ll see your iPad’s photos appear on the right. Note that you’ll only see photos taken with your iPad. Photo albums synced to your iPad from sources like iPhoto won’t appear here. To remove or modify those synced albums, you’ll have to modify the original source album.

Now that you can see your iPad’s camera roll photos in Image Capture, you can easily select multiple images using common OS X techniques, such as clicking and dragging, holding Shift to select contiguous images, or holding Command to select non-contiguous images. Once you’ve made your selection, simply press the delete button at the bottom of the window, denoted by a red prohibitory sign.

How to Bulk Delete iPad Photos Using Image Capture

Image Capture will warn you that this is an irreversible process, and it’s right. Unlike deleting files from your Mac, there’s no Trash for this operation from which to recover accidentally deleted files. Although there are some advanced (and expensive) data recovery methods, for all practical purposes, once you hit the Delete button the files will be gone. If you’re sure you’ve selected the correct files, hit the confirmation “Delete” button and the photos will immediately be removed from your iPad.

With this method you can delete thousands of images in seconds, a far better alternative than tapping on your iPad’s photos for hours on end. Thanks, Craig, for the tip!

This question was originally answered on MGG 456: Action-Packed and Chock-Full-o-Tips

About MGG Answers:

Each week Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun provide some great troubleshooting advice to listeners of the Mac Geek Gab podcast. Here with MGG Answers we share some of those tips with the rest of the world!

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Do you know if this will work for photos imported to the iPad from SD cards with the Apple adapter?

Jim Tanous

Do you know if this will work for photos imported to the iPad from SD cards with the Apple adapter?

I don’t have an iPad adapter to test with so I can’t say for sure. If the import process puts the pictures from the SD Card into your iPad’s camera roll, it should work fine. If it imports them into an “album,” then it might not work.

Another way to test it: if you open the imported picture album on your iPad, do you have the option to delete them when you press the “Edit” button? If yes, they should be deletable via Image Capture.

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