How to Recover Android Photos

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Valery Aloyants
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How many times have I told you? The photos you take with your smartphone (or tablet) don't have to stay on your phone's memory - you need to archive them regularly on your PC and back them up on external hard drives and memory cards. Alternatively, you can save them on a cloud storage service, so you can be sure that they are always accessible.

But you, nothing, you kept on doing your own thing, and now you find yourself with a dozen shots that you really cared about vanished into thin air. I beg your pardon? Is it because of an app that promised to delete useless files from Android and duplicates from the Gallery? It doesn't matter. The damage is done, and you need to fix it. So, roll up your sleeves now and find out how to recover photos on Android with the programs and apps I'm about to recommend. With a bit of luck, you might be able to restore all your lost photos.

Before you get started, though, let's get one thing straight: you can't work miracles! In other words, if the memory areas where your photos were stored have been overwritten by other data, unfortunately nothing will be able to recover them: not the resources I'm going to talk about or anything else. Is that clear? For the same reason, it is good to use the device as little as possible while waiting for the recovery of the photos (to avoid that other data occupy the memory areas where there are photos to be recovered). It will be my pleasure, therefore, to recommend first programs for photo recovery from PC and then apps to use directly on your smartphone or tablet. That said, let's put aside the chatter and let's go to action!

Preliminary steps

Before explaining in detail how to recover deleted photos on Android using data recovery solutions, I want to ask you a very important question: on your smartphone or tablet do you use Google Photos (the service for managing and storing images online offered by Google)? Then I have good news for you: when you delete a photo from the service, it is not permanently deleted from the memory of the device, but is moved to the Recycle Bin, a temporary folder where it remains for another 60 days before it is permanently removed.

So, if it hasn't been 60 days since you removed the photos you now want to recover, you can take a look at the Google Photos Recycle Bin and, if the images are inside it, you can restore them without any problems.

To do so, open the app in question on your smartphone or tablet by tapping on its icon in the drawer, press the button with the three horizontal lines located at the top left and select the item Recycle Bin from the menu that opens. In the new screen that appears, make a long tap on the first photo that you want to recover, select all the other images that interest you and press the Restore item located at the bottom right.

Alternatively, you can also act from PC, connecting to this web page and logging in, if necessary, with the Google account configured on your smartphone or tablet. In this way you will access the Recycle Bin of the web version of Google Photos and you can restore your photos from there.

Programs to recover deleted Android photos

If you want to find out how to recover photos on Android in the case of deleted photos from your device and you have a computer at hand, you can make use of the image (and other file types) recovery programs below. There are programs for Windows, macOS and Linux. I sincerely hope they can help you.

PhotoRec (Windows/MacOS/Linux)

If your Android smartphone or tablet supports the use of a microSD card, you can remove the microSD card from the device, insert it into the card reader connected to your computer and scan the contents with PhotoRec to try to recover deleted photos.

In case you haven't heard of it, PhotoRec is a free and open source software that allows you to recover deleted files from any type of drive: hard drives, USB sticks, SD cards, etc. It is compatible with Windows and macOS, and can be used to recover deleted files from any device. It is compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux but only for Microsoft operating systems it comes complete with a graphical interface. Note, however, that it doesn't work if the device's SD card has been set as the primary storage drive. It comes bundled with TestDisk, another free software that is used for partition recovery.

To download PhotoRec, the first step is to go to the program's website and, if you're using Windows, click the Windows-64 bit link (if you're using 64-bit Windows) or the Windows link (if you're using 32-bit Windows) under TestDisk & PhotoRec x.x at the top.

Once downloaded, extract theZIP archive to any folder and run the qphotorec_win.exe file inside. Next, insert the memory card of your Android smartphone into the reader connected to your PC.

Now, in the PhotoRec window that opens, select from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen thedrive where you inserted the SD card, click on the partition from which you want to recover the photos (e.g. FAT32, FAT2, FTP, etc.).

  • FAT32
  • ), select the FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS and Libero entries at the bottom and click the File formats button.

    In the next window that appears on the screen, click the Reset button, select the file formats you want to recover from the SD card (e.g. JPG and PNG) and click the OK button.

    Finally, press the Browse button, indicate the folder where you want to save the recovered photos and click the Search button to start the scanning process. At the end, you will find all the recovered photos in the folder you chose earlier.

    If, however, you're using macOS, to use PhotoRec proceed as follows: after connecting to the site of the program, click on the link Mac OS X Intel, extract thearchive tar.bz2 that is downloaded to your computer in any folder and run the executable photorec contained within it, right-clicking on it and selecting Open from the menu that appears.

    In the Terminal window that appears, use the right arrow on your keyboard to select the Sudo option, press the Enter key (also on your keyboard) and type the password for your macOS user account, so that you can start the application as an administrator.

    Next, insert the memory card of your Android phone into the SD card reader of your Mac, select thedrive from which you want to recover the photos, indicate the partition you are interested in, choose the file system with which it is formatted and indicate whether you want to scan only the space marked as free(Free) or check theentire drive thoroughly(Whole).

    Finally, select the folder in which to save the recovered images, press the "C" key on your keyboard to confirm your choice and wait for the procedure to be completed.

    iReparo for Android (Windows/MacOS)

    Another great software that you can use to recover deleted photos from Android is iReparo for Android: this is a Windows and macOS compatible program that allows you to recover deleted photos, videos, messages and other files from Google's mobile platform.

    It is a paid program (it costs $49.95), but you can use the free trial version, which allows you to see which files you can recover with its full version.

    To download the trial version of the program, go to the official iReparo for Android website and click first on the Windows or Mac entry (depending on the operating system you use on your computer) and then on the Download button.

    Once the download is complete, if you're using Windows, open the .exe file and click the Yes and OK buttons in the window that appears on your desktop. Then select the I accept the agreement option, click the Next button four times in a row, and finally click the Install and Finish buttons.

    If, instead, you are using macOS, launch the .pkg package that contains the program and, in the window that opens, click first on the Continue button twice in a row and then on the Install button. Then type in the password of your macOS user account and complete the setup by first clicking on the Install software button and then on the Move button.

    Now that the software window is displayed, connect your Android smartphone or tablet to the computer and wait for iReparo for Android to recognize it. If this does not happen, take the device, go to Settings > Developer options and select the USB debugging option. If the Developer Options menu is not available, go to Settings > About phone and tap on Build version or Serial number 7 times in a row to enable it.

    Next, click the Multimedia button in the program window, select the file formats of the photos you want to recover (e.g. JPG and PNG) and press the Next and Start buttons to start the scanning process.

    Once the scanning process is finished, select the Gallery item from the sidebar of the software window and you will be shown the photos you can recover. If you decide to buy the full version of iReparo for Android, you can select the thumbnails of the images you are interested in and export them to your computer by clicking the Recover button.

    Apps to Recover Deleted Android Photos

    Let's move on to apps for recovering deleted photos on Android: these are easy to use, even for those who, like you, aren't exactly geeks. Please note, however, that they require the presence of root on the device.

    In case you're not aware of it, rooting is a procedure that bypasses the standard Android restrictions, allowing you to run apps that need access to deeper areas of the system. You can find everything explained in detail in my tutorial on how to root Android.


    DiskDigger is one of the best free apps to recover photos on Android. It has an extremely intuitive user interface and gets the job done fast enough. Eventually, it's also available in a paid version (which costs €3.37), which allows you to recover other file formats as well, but you shouldn't care about that.

    To download it, visit the relevant section of the Play Store and press the Install button. If necessary, authorize the operation by also pressing Accept. Once the download and installation process is complete, open the app by pressing the Open button that appears on the screen or by tapping on its icon in the drawer (the Android screen where you find the icons of all the apps grouped together).

    Once you see the app's main screen, tap on the Grant button to allow it to run with root permissions. Then select No, thanks in response to the invitation to buy the Pro version, and choose thedrive to restore the photos from: it's almost certainly the one with the largest capacity and the name in bold.

    Then tick the JPG and/or PNG option (if you want to recover screenshots as well), tap the OK button to start scanning the drive, and press the Allow button to grant the app permissions to access your photos.

    As DiskDigger does its job, you'll see on your device's screen the thumbnails of the recoverable photos: check the ones you want to recover, press the floppy disk icon in the upper right corner and select Save selected files locally from the menu that appears, to complete the operation.

    Undeleter Recover Files & Data

    Should DiskDigger fail to recover all the photos you care about, you can try Undeleter Recover Files & Data, another data recovery app that's a bit slower than DiskDigger in finding files, but still does a good job. It's free, but only in its basic version, which allows you to recover photos only, while to also restore documents, archives and other file types you need to upgrade to the paid version, via in-app purchases (costing €4.99).

    To download the app, visit the relevant section of the Play Store and tap the Install button. If necessary, authorize the download by clicking on Accept. Once the download and installation process is complete, open the app by selecting the Open button that appears on the screen or by tapping on its icon in the drawer.

    Now that you see the app's main screen, tap first on the Next button and then on the Grant button to grant root permissions to the app. When you're done, tap on the Next button again and select thedrive from which you want to recover the images (e.g. Internal Storage). Then choose the file types to restore(JPG and PNG) and tap the Scan button to start the device check.

    Thumbnails of the recoverable photos will automatically appear on the screen as the scan proceeds: to restore an image, tap on its thumbnail, press the button with the three vertical dots in the upper right corner, and select Save File from the menu that appears.

    How to recover WhatsApp Android photos

    Are you interested in understanding how to retrieve photos on Android that you received via WhatsApp and now have deleted? Well, know that, to do so, you just need to use the programs and apps I mentioned in the previous steps.

    The procedures are practically the same, nothing changes, because images received via the popular messaging service are stored on the memory of the device just like the photos in the Gallery.

    Alternatively, you can try recovering photos from WhatsApp backups, provided that the last backup you saved from WhatsApp on the internet ( Google Drive, to be precise) or on your smartphone's memory is from before the date you deleted the images you want to restore. For all the details of the case, I refer you to read my guide dedicated specifically to how to recover WhatsApp photos.

    How to recover broken Android photos

    Did you accidentally drop your Android device, break it, and can't turn it on? Big trouble! But if the photos on your device are what you are most concerned about, all may not be lost.

    If you use an external memory card on your device to store photos and other data, you can try to recover the images saved on it by connecting the microSD to your computer and using special programs, such as PhotoRec, which I told you about at the beginning of this guide.

    If, on the other hand, you used Google Photos to store your photos in the cloud, you can connect to the service with your account from another smartphone or tablet, and retrieve the images saved on the network from there, as I explained in my guide on how to recover photos from Google Photos, or, if in the past you deleted them by mistake, you can try to restore them by following the instructions on what to do that I provided in the dedicated step in the middle of this guide.

    If the device is not equipped with an external memory card, another option is to take it to a service center and request the recovery of data contained within, but I must warn you that this is an expensive operation and not always successful.

    There are also other "tricks" suitable for this purpose. For example, you can try to revive the device by replacing the battery. For more details, I refer you to read my specific tutorial on how to recover photos from a broken phone.

    Audio Video How to Recover Android Photos
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