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Sometimes, you just want to completely delete a photo from your iPhone Photo stream. It used to be slightly complicated but with the introduction of iCloud Photo Library, it has become quite complicated. I must admit though: deleting photos from your iPhone/iPad (and any photo stream album) is easy. It's what happens next that baffles many users.

Photo stream and iCloud Photo Library are all ways to sync photos between all your iOS devices. You click a picture on your iPhone and then – with Photo stream or with iCloud Photo Library – you get them synced to all other iOS devices like the iPad or iPod touch. But then, what if you want to delete the photo completely from all devices? How does it work? Here's how:

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Manage Shared Photo Stream on iPhone or iPad

The Old method (also, when you have disabled iCloud Photo Library)
If you want to delete photos from an album that's tied to photo stream:

  • Open the Photos app
  • Tap on the Albums menu from the bottomMy Photo Stream on iPhone or iPad
  • Tap on My Photo Stream
  • Now, tap on Select from the top and select the photos you want to delete.Select Photos in My Photo Stream on iPhone or iPad
  • Once the photos are selected, tap on the delete icon (trash icon). Delete Photos from My Photo Stream on iPhone or iPad
  • Then confirm it by tapping on Delete Photos.

Delete Selected Photos from My Photo Stream on iPhone or iPad

What happens in this scenario is that the photos in your photo stream will get deleted – which means they will be gone from the photo stream album from ALL devices.

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But the original photo (which was taken on a device) will remain on the device it was taken on. For instance, you take a photo on your iPhone, add it to photo stream which gets synced to iPads and other devices. When you delete the photo from the photo stream, the original will still be available in the Camera roll of your iPhone.

If you have enabled iCloud Photo Library
With iCloud Photo Library, the way photo streams work changes. Here are three important things to note:

  • When you enable iCloud Photo Library, your iCloud storage will be used. With normal photo streams, this is not the case.
  • When you enable iCloud Photo Library, you should also enable it on other devices. Otherwise, the photos won't be synced across the devices.
  • With iCloud Photo Library, when you delete a photo from your library, it disappears completely leaving no trace.

Delete photos from your photo stream when you've got iCloud Photo Library enabled:

  • Open the Photos app
  • Tap on the Albums menuAll Photos Album in iPhone or iPad
  • Next, tap on All Photos(you should notice that the Camera roll doesn't exist now. When you enable iCloud Photo Library, all photos are consolidated into the All Photos album instead of a camera roll).
  • Tap on Select and select photos you want to remove.Select Photos in Photos App on iPhone or iPad
  • Next, tap on the trash icon to delete photos.Delete Photos from My Photo Stream on iPhone or iPad
  • Tap on Delete Photos to confirm the deletion.

Delete Selected Photos from iPhone or iPad

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Once you confirm the delete, the photos will be removed. But note this: the deleted photos will be removed completely from your photo stream and your iDevice. You will not be able to get them back (except for the Recently Deleted album).

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Jignesh Padhiyar is the founder of iGeeksBlog.com who has a keen eye for news, rumors and all the unusual stuff that happens around iPhone and iPad.