How to delete duplicate photos on your iPhone

It’s nearly impossible to snap a good picture on the first try — many of us tap this shutter button dozens of times to take a perfect photo. But who remembers to remove duplicates? This task is often put off until our iPhones start running low on space.

If you think about tackling this dreaded chore manually, we have some tips to help you. In this article, we’ve shared quick ways to clean up your photo library using both built-in iOS tools and third-party apps.

How to find duplicate photos on your iPhone

Manually deleting your duplicate pictures one by one from your iPhone requires a lot of patience and willpower. Thankfully, you can use an app that deletes duplicate photos. Presenting CleanMy®Phone — a careful iPhone cleaner app. This tool quickly scans your iPhone photo library and groups pictures as duplicates or similar-looking pictures.

How to delete duplicate photos on iPhone with CleanMy®Phone

  1. Download CleanMy®Phone from the App Store.
  2. Open the app and tap Declutter.
  3. Tap Scan.
  4. Once the scan is complete, tap Duplicates.
  5. Select photos for removal.
  6. Tap Clean > Delete.

How to manually remove duplicate pictures on iPhone

If you need to delete your duplicates from your iPhone manually, there are two ways you can do it in the Photos app.

Delete pictures with Duplicates functionality

When it comes to a manual approach, one of the first things you can do to remove duplicate photos on iPhone is to tap into Duplicates. How does it work? Photos identifies duplicate photos and videos in your photo library and puts them into the Duplicates album. You can then merge them to keep one version in high quality. And you can use Duplicates to easily remove duplicate photos. Here's how to do that:

  1. On your iPhone, open Photos.
  2. Tap Albums and scroll down to find Duplicates under Utilities.
  3. Tap Select. You can also tap Select All if you want to merge all the photos. 
  4. Scroll down and tap Merge to combine the duplicate photos identified by your iPhone.

The deleted photos will be moved to the Recently Deleted album, so you can still recover them if you change your mind.

Keep in mind, Apple is careful with this functionality, so you might not be able to find similar photos here — they only identify exact copies and matches. That's why the following method may come in handy.

How to get rid of duplicate photos on iPhone by using the Search tool

    The second way you can manually erase duplicate photos is by using the Search tool in Photos. You can search for specific people, places, or even specific settings, such as Portrait mode. And if you have any duplicates, you’ll be able to quickly spot them when you’re scrolling through the results.

    To manually search for duplicates in the Photos app:

    1. In Photos, tap Search in the bottom-right corner.
    2. Type in a name or place in the search bar.
    3. You can tap See All to go through the results, or Photos will further group you pictures by moments and categories.
    4. In the top right, tap Select.
    5. Select all of the duplicates and delete them.

    How to delete duplicate photos from iCloud

    If you’re syncing your photos to iCloud, CleanMy®Phone makes it easier to clean up duplicates on there, too. But before you start cleaning up your pictures, you’ll want to verify you have iCloud Photos enabled:

    1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
    2. Tap your name > iCloud > Photos.
    3. Toggle Sync this iPhone on (if it’s not already on).

    If sync isn’t already turned on, you’ll need to give your iPhone some time to download all your pictures before you open CleanMy®Phone and start getting rid of the duplicates and clutter.

    How to get rid of duplicate photos in Google Photos on iPhone

    Unfortunately, Google Photos doesn’t have a way to detect and remove duplicate photos on iPhone automatically, but its search feature makes it a little easier to find them. Google Photos analyzes all of your pictures and adds labels to them based on the content.

    That means you can search for keywords like “sunset” or “Napa Valley” without having to add the tags yourself. And, in theory, you would be able to tell if you had any duplicates simply by scrolling through your search results.

    Follow these steps to search for duplicates in Google Photos:

    1. Open the Google Photos app on your iPhone.
    2. Tap Search at the bottom.
    3. In the search bar, type a term like “beach.”
    4. Press and hold on the picture(s) you want to delete.
    5. Tap the trash can icon and select Delete.

    Why you have duplicate photos on iPhone

    Stumbling across duplicate pictures on your iPhone can be frustrating, but not knowing how they got there — or what you can do to stop getting duplicates — can be just as annoying. Here are a couple of common causes for duplicate images.

    Reason 1. Multiple cloud services

    If you’re using multiple cloud services, such as iCloud and Google Photos, duplicates become more likely. Because your iPhone is uploading pictures to two different locations, it will occasionally see the photo as two different images because they’re being synced from different places. 

    Use one cloud service on your phone

    The best way to prevent duplicates due to multiple cloud services is to use only one automatic service on your iPhone. If you want to use another cloud service as a backup, it’s best to either do it manually or only have your computer signed in to the two services.

    Reason 2. The HDR setting is turned on

    HDR is a camera effect for your photos. It stands for High Dynamic Range, which, in simplest terms, means that when you take a picture, the camera is taking multiple images and combining them into one photo. This gives your picture a sharper, higher contrast. 

    On older iPhones, HDR is a feature you can switch on and off. When it's on, it creates an HDR photo, while also saving the original photo. This means you’re saving two similar-looking versions of the same picture. And while they’re not exact duplicates, you probably don’t want to keep the original and the HDR photo.

    Turn off Auto HDR

    Fortunately, you can turn off Automatic HDR, allowing you to choose when you want to use HDR so you don’t end up with multiple similar-looking pictures:

    • On iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone 11 models, iPhone SE (2nd generation), and iPhone 12: Go to Settings > Camera and toggle off Smart HDR. Go back and tap HDR to turn it off.
    • On iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X: Go to Settings on your iPhone > tap Camera and disable Auto HDR.

      Another option you have is to turn off the setting to Keep Normal Photo altogether. That way, once you take an HDR picture, it only keeps a single copy. But you can only do that on iPhone X and earlier models: 

      1. Open Settings.
      2. Tap Camera.
      3. Toggle Keep Normal Photo off.

      Reason 3. Photo editing

      If you use a third-party app like VSCO to edit your photos, you’re likely to end up with duplicates. Pictures edited with a third-party app are saved back to your camera roll, creating a similar picture. So while it’s not an exact duplicate, it’s still a similar image taking up twice the storage space.

      Edit in the Photos app

      While the Photos app may not have the breadth of editing capabilities, it is still a powerful tool. And when you edit in the Photos app, it saves over the original by default to avoid the creation of duplicates.

      1. Open the Photos app.
      2. Select the picture you want to edit.
      3. Tap Edit in the top-right corner.
      4. Make your adjustment and then tap Done.

      The nice thing about Photos is you can always revert the image back to what you started with, so don’t be afraid to play around and experiment with various edits on your pictures.

      Using the iPhone camera to take pictures is fun and has never been easier. But dealing with duplicate photos can be a headache. Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out quicker ways to clean them up, so you can get back to enjoying all of the memories you’ve captured on your iPhone.


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