Stupid iOS Features: Delete Everywhere in Photos

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iPad Photos Delete Everywhere

For those of us who have been using iDevices since the long-ago days of iOS 1.0, the first version of the iPad and iPhone operating system, it’s been great to see the volume and quality of new features added over these last 5 years or so. From the App Store to copy&paste to AirPrint and AirPlay Mirroring, it’s been mostly a great ride in terms of the ever-improving feature set – even though changes have often come more slowly than many users would like.

iOS is still far from perfect though, and it still has some features that leave me scratching my head and wondering why the heck they work the way they do. One prime example that springs to mind today is the ‘Delete Everywhere’ action in the Photos app. This one strikes me as 100% unhelpful and really just plain stupid.

Apple has traditionally made it very hard for us to do any sort of organizing of our photos on the iPad or iPhone. And when they finally gave us the ability to create albums, they rendered it virtually a useless feature when they added the Delete Everywhere to the mix. Just in case you’ve not come across this boneheaded corner of iOS, here’s how this works:

You create a new album in Photos, lets say one called Dogs for example, and add 20 of your favorite photos of your dog to it. And then you create a folder called Cats, and add all your loveliest photos of your pet cat to it. Then at some point you might want to clean out your Camera Roll to preserve space on your device (or just keep things neater) so you might well want to delete those dog and cat photos as part of that process. What you’ll find is that you cannot just delete them from the Camera Roll. As soon as you tap the trash can icon to remove them, the only option you get is to Delete Everywhere.

I still have a few albums I’ve created in the Photos app on my iPads, but I don’t create a lot of them just because of the need to keep any photos added to them within the Camera Roll as well. It ends up being more useful to upload images to Dropbox or other services, where I can store them in whatever folders I like – and then have the ability to download them to my device if I ever need to.

What do you all think of albums and delete everywhere in iOS? What are some of your least favorite iOS features?

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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15 thoughts on “Stupid iOS Features: Delete Everywhere in Photos

  1. I thought I was the only one complaining about this feature. The whole point of creating albums is to organise your picture, so it’s easy to access. What’s the point of storing a duplicate of a picture and taking away valuable space. Apple really needs to sort this out.
    To add; it would be a great idea to also have a pass lock for your pictures, just to keep nosy family members out.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong but this behavior is consistent with iPhoto on a Mac. If you create an album in iPhoto on a Mac, it doesn’t actually make a copy in the album but appears to set a pointer to a the copy in the master photo list for the photos contained in the album. If you put a bunch of photos in an album, then delete them from the master photo list in iPhoto, they also disappear from any album that contains them…..however iPhoto on a Mac doesn’t give you any warning that the photo you are about to delete is contained in an album.

    • You’re probably right. I hate iPhoto about as much as it’s possible to hate any app and never use it apart from rare occasions when I’m forced to.

      • I agree it makes it burdensome to manage photos when the “Master” library and Camera Roll just keep getting more and more photos in them.

        • Surely if you keep taking photos they’re going to have to go somewhere no matter what you call it. Being able then to organize or sort them by category (Albums), time (Events), location (Places) or tags (Keywords) as in iPhoto are essential features of any database. The additional features in iPhoto of calendars, printed and bound albums, email, printing, slide shows, etc, make it an invaluable app as far as I am concerned.

  3. I don’t really see what the problem is: it’s no different from iPhoto or Aperture on the Mac. Camera Roll on iOS is the same as Photos on iPhoto — it’s where your photo collection is stored. Albums are just tags that allow you to group photos into categories. Photos do not reside in albums but are merely references back to Camera Roll or Photos (iPhoto), so they are not duplicates, as many believe. Therefore whilst there is no problem with deleting a photo from an album as you’re simply removing the tag; but when deleting a photo from Camera Roll, you’re actually deleting it completely from your device. So the dialog you find so annoying is actually a valuable reminder that the version of a photo that you have in album(s) is not going to be there once deleted from Camera Roll.

  4. I lost a lot of videos because i eliminate them from my camera roll and they disapear from the album i made for them. I hate that

  5. David is absolutely right. Who would have thought that this proven concept is still so hard to comprehend.

  6. iPhoto app and iPhoto on the Mac are database applications made for managing picture files. It has the exact same behaviour than iTunes. Where photos replace songs and playlists replace photo albums. As David mentioned earlier, a photo album is just a tag on multiple pictures. It actually saves memory that is scarce on iOS devices.
    Once you understand the working principle of the app its behaviour becomes more logical and less frustrating.
    Happy snapping!

  7. Just happen to me 30 minutes ago, it’s bizzard

    have you notice that you can also duplicate pictures in your folders

    for those who carry more than 500 pictures there should be an option avaibale to select all of the images in one click rahter than go one by one

  8. Camera roll and tagging is alright, but a pet peeve is that there is no way of knowing which picture in camera roll is already in an album so you may end up overlooking photos or adding them to multiple albums. Not feasible when camera roll total numbers beyond single digits. This makes tagging difficult. They should have a feature where it would show untagged photos then sorting into albums would be easy

  9. Yes – the whole thing is completely retarded. I’ve been a MAC user since OS 7.x (yes pre OSX) and have always been a faithful mac user. Apple’s reasoning to seriously “limit” the functionality of the ability to store and organize our photos makes absolutely no sense… If i was to put my “dog” pictures into an album titled DOGS, I wouldnt need another reference of it in the “Camera Roll”. No extra precious HD space is needed. Just the proper functionality of the program. It really grinds my gears (Family Guy reference) that Apple has made it this way. And obviously there’s thousands of us who feel the same way.

    The only reason I can see for this is to force users to work within iTunes for as much as possible, thus getting people to pay for more apps and continue to feed to the ever-hungry Apple tree. Apple has undeniably created the money tree, and want to keep it for themselves. I dont blame them to some degree with the amount of R&D that must go into developing such products. Steve Jobs = Genius & an even more genius marketer. Lets not forget that folks!

    I’ve figured out some work arounds with the ridiculous photo limitations, but it hasnt been without serious undertaking, app purchasing, jailbreaking & tweaking etc. to do so.

    After having an iPad now for some time, the realization I’ve succumbed to is that Ipads and idevices (including PC dup’s – tablets) simply do not compare to a computer. Never will. They are over-engineered high-res fun toys for internet usage and a few other nifty tasks – but that’s about it.

    When someone develops an OS without borders and the need for constant greed – We may see a difference… eventually.