Have you wondered if it's possible to do such a thing on smartphones as well, and more precisely if it's possible to recover photos from the recycle bin of your phone, since you accidentally deleted some photos from the Gallery of your phone and now you don't know how to restore them.
The answer to your question is... no. Let me explain: Android and iOS, the two most popular operating systems for smartphones, don't have a Recycle Bin like computer operating systems, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to recover accidentally deleted photos. The applications that Android smartphones and iPhones use by default to manage photos, in fact, have automatic backup functions that, just to avoid accidental deletion of important content, keep the photos deleted by users for a certain number of days before deleting them permanently.
This means that if you've only deleted your photos a few days ago and you're using the default Android and iOS photo management apps, you should be able to recover your photos easily enough. If you deleted your photos a few days ago and/or are using alternative gallery management apps, with a bit of luck you might be able to recover your pictures by using external solutions, such as data recovery apps. You'll find more information about this below, so enjoy your reading and good luck!
Recover photos from the recycle bin of an Android phone
Do you use an Android smartphone? Then you can recover photos from the recycle bin of your phone using Google Photos, Google's photo and video management app, which, as you probably already know, makes an online backup of all the contents of the Gallery and allows you to recover deleted photos up to 60 days after the day they were deleted. The important thing is that the images you want to restore were deleted from within the Google Photos app and not from other apps, such as the Android Gallery.
If you want to recover deleted photos from the Google Photos app, all you have to do is launch the app, click on thehamburger icon in the upper left corner, and select Recycle Bin from the menu that appears on the side.
In the screen that opens (the menu with the images you've deleted in the last 60 days from your device, or rather, from all devices on which you use Google Photos), make a long tap on the thumbnail of the first photo to be restored, then place a check mark on the thumbnails of the other images to be restored and click on the Restore button that appears at the bottom right. The restored photos will return to the main Google Photos Gallery, occupying the position they had before being moved to the Trash.
The photos you're interested in recovering weren't deleted via the Google Photos app, but rather via the Android Gallery? If so, you can only recover them if they were backed up online by Google Photos before deletion.
To find out whether the photos you're interested in have been backed up to the Google cloud and are therefore available in Google Photos, launch the Google Photos app and browse the list of images in it. If at first glance you can't find the photo you're interested in, click on the search bar at the top and use one of the search tools provided by the service to try to find it.
For example, if the photo you want to find is of a certain person and you have activated the facial recognition feature in Google Photos, you can click on one of the faces located below the search bar and see all the photos of that person. If the photo was taken in a specific place, you can select one of the geographical locations that are suggested at the bottom of the screen. Or, if you remember the month/year in which the photo was taken, you can type the month/year in the Google Photos search bar (e.g. January 2017) and see all the images from that period.
Was the lost photo delivered to you via an app like WhatsApp or Messenger? If so, you might be able to retrieve it via Google Photos by clicking on thehamburger icon in the top left corner, selecting Device Folders from the menu that appears on the side, and browsing through the photos that are present in various folders on your smartphone but have not been uploaded to the Google cloud.
If none of these attempts have the desired effect, I'm sorry, but most likely the photo you're looking for is not in the Android Recycle Bin or in any folder on your phone. The only hope you have of seeing it again is that it hasn't been completely deleted from the device's memory and, therefore, it's recoverable through data recovery apps (which I'm going to tell you about).
The photos you want to recover are not available in Google Photos? I'm sorry, but in this case, as I mentioned earlier, your only hope is that the images have not yet been overwritten by other data on the phone memory and, therefore, are recoverable through apps for the recovery of deleted data.
Among the best apps for recovering deleted photos on Android, I'd like to point out DiskDigger Photo Recovery, which is completely free (at least for recovering JPG and PNG photos and MP4 videos; for recovering other types of files there's a Pro version, which costs €3.37) and is very easy to use.
The only problem with DiskDigger Photo Recovery is that, like other data recovery apps, it requires rooting in order to work properly: a procedure that, in case you didn't know it, allows you to unlock Android and access areas of the system that wouldn't normally be accessible. If you haven't rooted your Android yet, you can still try to use the app, but most likely the results it will give you won't be satisfactory (as the app won't have the permissions to "dig" deep into the phone's memory).
After installing DiskDigger Photo Recovery from the Play Store, launch the app, click the Grant button to grant it root permissions, and decline the Pro version by clicking the No, thanks button. At this point, select thememory drive to be scanned (it should be the one marked in bold), choose the type of images to be recovered from JPG (photos taken with the camera) and/or PNG (screenshots) and click first on the OK button and then on the Allow button to start searching for deleted photos. If you're not rooted, you can perform a superficial scan of your smartphone's memory by launching DiskDigger Photo Recovery and clicking the Start basic photo scan button.
If and when, on the scan screen, you see the thumbnails of the photos you are interested in, click on the Pause button, check the images you want to recover and press the Recover button (top right). Finally, choose whether to save the files on a cloud storage service or send them to you via email (by selecting the cloud icon), save them locally (by selecting the folder icon) or upload them to an FTP server (by selecting the arrow icon).
In case the app doesn't satisfy you fully, you can try alternative solutions by referring to my tutorials on apps to recover deleted photos and best solutions to recover photos from Android.
Note: if you want to avoid situations like the one you just experienced in the future, make sure you use Google Photos to manage your photo gallery and enable cloud backup of photos and videos. To do this, launch the Google Photos app, click on thehamburger icon in the top left corner, and select Settings from the menu that appears on the side. On the next screen, go to Backup and Sync, make sure the Backup and Sync toggle is turned on, and that the Load Sizeoption is set to High Quality (so you can take advantage of the free backup feature). If you want to learn more, check out my guide on how Google Photos works.
Recovering Photos from an iPhone Recycle Bin
If you've accidentally deleted photos from your iPhone, you should be able to get them back thanks to the Photos app's Recently Deleted album - a sort of Recycle Bin where photos you've deleted from your device remain for 40 days before being completely deleted.
To access the "Recycle Bin" on your iPhone, open the Photos app, select the Albums tab at the bottom right, and tap on the Recently Deleted album (which has a trash can icon on a grey background). On the screen that opens, click on Select in the upper right corner, select the thumbnails of the images you want to recover, and tap first on the Recover option in the lower right corner and then on the Recover Photos button at the bottom. The selected photos will be returned to the iOS Camera Roll. Happy?
If the Recently Deleted album in the Photos app doesn't have the images you're looking for, I'm sorry, but it's about to get harder. But it's not the end of the road, and there are a few third-party solutions you might be able to use to achieve your goal.
If you have the Google Photos app installed on your iPhone, and especially if you have online photo backup enabled, you may be able to recover photos you've deleted from the iOS Camera Roll thanks to big G's cloud platform.
To find out if the Google Photos app was able to back up the images you're interested in before they were deleted from your iPhone's memory, launch the app in question and browse the list of images available in its library.
If at a first glance you can't find the photos you're interested in, try searching for faces, places or type of photo (e.g. selfie, panorama, etc.) using the search bar at the top, as I explained before in the chapter of the tutorial dedicated to Android (the app works the same way) and as explained in my tutorial on how Google Photos works.
If you are able to retrieve the photos you deleted from the camera roll of your iPhone, to bring them back in the iOS Photos app, select their thumbnails (by making a long tap on the first thumbnail and then placing a check mark on the others), click on theshare icon located in the upper right corner (the square with the arrow inside) and tap first on the Open in... at the end of the second row of icons, in the menu that appears on the screen, and then tap on the Save xx images icon, also present in the second row of icons that appears on the display of your iPhone.
If you have made a backup of your iPhone with iTunes when the photos of your interest were still on the device's memory, you should be able to recover them by restoring the backup of your "applephone" (as I explained in my tutorial on how to restore iPhone backups) but this operation, of course, will bring the iPhone back to the state it was at the time when the backup was made.
If you want to prevent this from happening, you can resort to third-party software and extract photos from the iTunes backup without actually using it on your "applephone". There are many software to browse iTunes backups, but I personally recommend iExplorer, which is compatible with both Windows and macOS and works very well. Unfortunately it's not free, it costs 39.99 euros, but it's available in a demo version that allows you to view all the data in your iTunes backups without being able to extract them.
To download the demo version of iExplorer, go to the program's official website, click on the arrow next to the Download iExplorer button and select the for Windows or the for Mac item from the menu that opens, depending on whether you're using a Windows PC or a Mac.
After downloading, if you are using a Windows PC, run the executable iExplorerSetup.exe and, in the window that opens, click first on the Yes button and then on Install. If, however, you are using a Mac, open the dmg package that contains iExplorer and drag its icon in the Applications folder of macOS.
At this point, start iExplorer, click the button Continue with demo/Continue in demo mode, then Browse iTunes Backup, select the iTunes backup from which you want to extract the photos from the menu, click the Photos & Videos button and navigate through the various folders that contain the photos in the backup to locate those of your interest.
Data Recovery Software
If iExplorer can't find the photos you're interested in (if you have the iCloud Photo Library enabled on your iPhone, some images in the iTunes backup may be unavailable because they were saved, at the time, only in iCloud), you can try to directly scan the iPhone memory using one of the data recovery programs I've recommended in my tutorial on how to recover deleted iPhone photos. I warn you, however: the success rates, in these cases, are extremely low.