How to empty trash on iPhone (2024 guide)

Written By Vikhyat Rishi Reviewed By How-to 7 Min Read
How to empty trash on iPhone

Knowing how to organize your iPhone storage is essential to maintaining its efficiency. One way to do that is to delete large photos and video files already backed up to iCloud or remove the files or emails you no longer need. However, simply deleting these files is not enough. You will also need to empty the trash from the iPhone’s Recently Deleted folders.

So, if you are looking to clear trash on your iPhone, I have got you covered. In this guide, I’ll explain how the iPhone’s trash folder works and how you can empty it.

Where is recycle bin on iPhone?

Unlike the Mac, iPhones don’t have a unified recycle bin or trash. However, a Recently Deleted folder or album is available for many native apps, including Photos, Files, Notes, Messages, and more. Usually, this folder stores all deleted items for 30 days from the date of deletion.

So, in order to completely delete trash on your iPhone, you must empty the Recently Deleted folder (or Bin) of each native app separately.

If you can’t find the Recently Deleted folder in these apps, don’t worry. You only see it if you deleted something in the last 30 days. If it’s not there, you have probably already emptied the app’s trash. But just to confirm, follow the steps outlined below.

How to empty trash in Photos app on iPhone

No matter how much storage you have on your iPhone, it will still feel less to you if you are a photography enthusiast. This is because photos and videos together usually eat up most of the iPhone’s storage.

While you can delete the Photos and Videos already backed up in iCloud to free up space on your iPhone, you must also delete those from the Recently Deleted album to reclaim the storage space.

  1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone → Tap the Albums tab at the bottom.  
  2. Scroll down to the Utilities section and tap Recently Deleted.

    Open Photos app on you iPhone, select Albums and scroll down to Recently Deleted
  3. Now, tap the Select button at the top right → Then, tap the three-dot button at the bottom right.
  4. Tap Delete All and confirm your choice.

    Tap on Select, three dots icon and select Delete All in Photos app on iPhone

How to delete Files app trash on iPhone

Deleting unnecessary documents from the Files app is another way to clear your iPhone’s storage space.

Like the Photos app, deleted files accumulate in the Recently Deleted folder of the Files app. So, to empty the trash and save space, you must also remove them from the Recently Deleted folder.

  1. Open the Files app →  Tap Browse at the bottom right corner.
  2. Select Recently Deleted.

    Open Files app on your iPhone, go to Browse tab, select Recently Deleted
  3. Now, tap the three-dot icon → Pick Select in the drop-down menu.
  4. Select the items you want to delete from the recently deleted folder. 
  5. Tap Delete All →Tap Delete on the confirmation prompt that appears.

    Tap three dots icons, choose select, select the items and tap Delete All, confirm Delete 

Alternatively, you can also long press on the Recently Deleted tab, then tap Delete All.

How to empty Mail app trash on iPhone

Unlike the Photos or Files app, you won’t find a Recently Deleted folder in the Mail app.

Instead, there is a Bin folder similar to what you must have seen in the Gmail app. Here’s how you can empty trash in the Mail app on your iPhone.

  1. Open the Mail app → Tap Bin.
  2. Select Edit at the top right → Choose Select All.

    Open Mail app, select Bin, tap Edit and choose Select All
  3. Tap Delete Delete all on the confirmation prompt.

    Select Delete and Delete All

How to empty trash in Notes app on iPhone

This is another great way to free up storage space on your iPhone. Like the Photos and Files app, there is a Recently Deleted Folder in the Notes app as well. So, you can head over to the Recently Deleted folder to recover deleted notes or remove the unwanted notes from there altogether. Here’s how:  

  1. Open the Notes app → Tap Folders at the top left corner.  
  2. Here, tap Recently Deleted.

    Open Notes app on your iPhone, select Folders and tap on Recently Deleted 
  3. Now, tap the Edit button at the top right corner → Tap Delete All.  
  4. Tap Delete Notes.

    Select Edit, Delete All and Delete in Notes app on your iPhone

How to clear trash in Messages app

Being a smart iPhone user, you must have already enabled the auto-delete messages feature. But those unwanted texts or promotional messages will still linger in the Recently Deleted folder for some time before getting permanently deleted.

Here’s how you clear the unwanted trash in the Messages app:  

  1. Open the Messages app → Tap Filters at the top left corner.  
  2. Here, tap Recently Deleted.

    Open the Messages app on your iPhone, select Filters and go to Recently Deleted
  3. Tap Delete all Tap Delete Messages in the confirmation prompt.

    Select Delete All and tap Delete Messages on iPhone

How to delete trash in Voice Memos on iPhone

Removing already deleted audio files from the Voice Memo app is another step in the way of emptying trash on your iPhone. Here’s how you do this:

  1. Open the Voice Memo app → Tap the Backward Arrow icon at the top left corner.
  2. Here, tap Recently Deleted.

    Open Voice Memo app, select the Backward Arrow icon and tap Recently Deleted on iPhone 
  3. Tap Edit at the top right corner → Tap Delete All.  
  4. Select Delete Forever in the confirmation prompt that appears.

    Select Edit, tap Delete all and Delete Forever

How to empty Voicemail trash on iPhone

Available only in certain countries, Voicemails can accumulate and eat up a lot of space on your iPhone. So, it is important to review and delete them regularly. Here’s how you can completely empty the Voicemail trash on your iPhone.

  1. Open the Phone app → Go to the Voicemail tab.
  2. Tap Deleted Messages under the Others section.

    Open Phone app, select Voicemail icon and tap Deleted Messages on your iPhone
  3. Pick Clear All at the top right → Tap Clear All in the confirmation prompt.

    Select Clear All and Select Clear All

Conclusion

And that’s it; this is how you empty trash on an iPhone. Always remember to check the Recently Deleted folder in all the above-stated apps to stay in control of your iPhone storage. Also, if you need any further assistance, you can comment below. I’d be happy to respond.

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Vikhyat has a bachelor's degree in Electronic and Communication Engineering and over five years of writing experience. His passion for technology and Apple products led him to the tech writing space, where he specializes in writing App features, How-to guides, and troubleshooting guides for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on his MacBook Pro, he loves exploring the real world.
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