Did you do some cleaning up on your smartphone and delete photos you cared about a lot? Don't despair, everyone makes mistakes, and then the last word hasn't been said yet. If the portion of memory on which the pictures were stored has not yet been overwritten, i.e. has not yet been occupied by other data, you can restore your photos and get them back (at least in part). I assure you that it is not difficult, just use the right programs.
What are the "right programs" I'm referring to? Luckily there are several that you can turn to, some that work directly from your smartphone and others that require the use of a PC: choose the one that best suits your needs and try to recover deleted photos from your phone using it, below you will find all the instructions you need.
The software we are about to learn about works with both Android terminals and iPhones, is compatible with all the most popular versions of Google and Apple operating systems and does not require complicated configurations in order to be used. You just need to take a few minutes off and try them out. I cross my fingers that you can recover all the photos you've accidentally deleted!
Although it may seem trivial as a piece of advice, before you turn to the data recovery apps open your smartphone's recycle bin and check that the photos you are interested in are not in there. Don't you know what I'm talking about? Then let's clear the air.
By default, Android and iOS move deleted photos to a temporary folder - a sort of recycle bin in which images stay for a few days before they are permanently deleted. If you access the recycle bin before the photos are permanently deleted - which usually takes place within 60 days - you have the option to recover the pictures without using any special software.
To retrieve images on Android, open the Google Photo application (the one with the coloured pinwheel icon), press on the hamburger icon located in the top left corner and select the Trash item from the bar on the side. Then keep your finger pressed on one of the photos you want to restore, select the others by placing the check mark next to their thumbnails and press on the arrow icon in the upper right corner.
If you use an iPhone, open the Photos application instead, go to the Albums tab at the bottom right and select the Recently Deleted Album. Then tap on the Select button in the top right corner, place a checkmark next to the thumbnail images you want to restore and tap on the Restore button in the bottom right corner.
Recover deleted photos from Android
If you use an Android device, you can recover deleted photos from your mobile phone using free apps from Google Play Store. These apps are very easy to use, but they only work if you have submitted your smartphone to the root procedure. What is it? Root is a procedure that allows you to get administrator privileges on Android and to go deeper into the system, you'll find everything you need to know about it in my tutorial on how to root on Android. Once you've unlocked your phone via root, try one of the apps I'm going to recommend.
DiskDigger Free is an excellent app to recover JPG format photos and PNG format images or screenshots. It is also available in a paid Pro version that allows you to restore compressed archives, apps and many other different file types, but for now we are not interested.
To use DiskDigger Free, download the application from Google Play Store, launch it and press the Grant button to allow it to run with root permissions. Then reject the update to the Pro version of the app (press the No, thanks button), choose the drive where you want to search for photos (it should be the one selected by default), put a checkmark next to the JPG and/or PNG entry (depending if you want to recover only photos taken with the phone camera or even screenshots and images downloaded from the Internet) and press the OK button.
When the scan is finished, tick the thumbnails of the images to be recovered, press the Recover button at the top right and select the cloud icon to send the photos to yourself via email or if you want to save them to a cloud storage service or the folder icon if you want to save them to the phone memory.
Undeleter is another application for recovering data from Android terminals. As well as DiskDigger, it is available in two versions: a free version that allows you to restore only photos and a paid version that allows you to recover other types of files as well. To use it, download it from the Play Store, launch it and press its Next and Grant buttons to authorize it to run with root permissions.
Next, choose the Restore files option, tap on the drive from which you want to retrieve the images (e.g. Internal storage) and go to Deep scan. Then put a checkmark next to JPG and/or PNG and press Scan to start searching for recoverable files. When the scan is complete, select the thumbnails of the photos you want to recover, press the menu button in the top right corner (the three dots icon) and select Save the file from the menu that appears to complete the operation.
If your smartphone has expandable memory and the photos you deleted reside on a microSD, you can also use PhotoRec. It is a free and open source PC program that allows you to recover deleted files from memory cards, hard drives, USB sticks and other devices. It is compatible with both Windows and MacOS, but only on Windows it has a graphical interface (on other operating systems it must be used via command line). It comes paired with TestDisk, another free software that allows you to repair damaged disks and recover lost partitions, but we don't care about that for now.
To download PhotoRec to your computer, go to its official website and click the Windows item below TestDisk & PhotoRec 7.0. When the download is finished, open the zip archive containing the program, extract the contents into a folder of your choice and start the qphotorec_win.exe program.
In the window that opens, select the drive for your microSD (which you can connect to your PC using a common SD or USB adapter) using the drop-down menu at the top, select the main partition of the card (the one named FAT32, FAT16 or exFAT) and tick next to the FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS and Free items.
At this point, click on the File formats button and choose the file types to recover (in your case JPG and/or PNG). To select JPG and PNG format images only, click the Reset button (to reset the default selection of PhotoRec), tick next to JPG and/or PNG and press OK button to save the changes.
To finish, click the Browse button, select the folder where you want to save the recovered photos from PhotoRec and click the Search button to start data recovery. All the pictures found by the program will be saved automatically in the folder you just selected.
Retrieve deleted photos from iPhone
If you want to recover photos from an iPhone, you'll need to use computer applications such as EaseUS MobiSaver Free, which allows you to restore pictures, messages, notes and contacts directly from the phone memory or iTunes backups (both locally and on iCloud).
The software was quite effective in my tests, however, I warn you, it's not completely free: its free version has no time limits but unfortunately allows you to recover only one photo at a time. To restore several images at the same time you have to buy EaseUS MobiSaver Pro, which costs about 60 euros.
To download the free version of EaseUS MobiSaver to your computer, connect to the program's website and click on the Free download button first and then on Download. Then open the installation package called ems_free.exe and click Yes first and then OK and Next.
When installation is complete, connect your iPhone to your computer using the supplied Lightning/Dock cable, start EaseUS MobiSaver and click the Scan button next to the device name. Wait for the contents of the device to be examined and select, from the left side bar, one of the months listed under Photos/Videos. Then place a checkmark next to the thumbnail of the photo to be recovered, press the Recover button, choose the folder where you want to save the file and you're done.
If you cannot find the photo you are interested in in the iPhone memory, go back to the EaseUS MobiSaver home screen and try to start a scan of iTunes backups by choosing the Recover from iTunes backup option (to check the backups saved locally) or the Recover from iCloud backup option (to check the backups saved online).
EaseUS MobiSaver is also available for Mac. Its operation is identical to the Windows version; the only difference is in the installation process, which consists of opening the dmg package downloaded from the program's website and dragging the icon it contains into the MacOS Applications folder.