I have been using Google Photos for a while and love just how quickly it is in sync with my smartphone. All the photos and videos I capture are available on Google Photos that I can access on any other device as well with my Google account. Google Photos uses cloud storage which means you can delete photos from your phone but a copy of it is always available on Google Photos. However, it doesn’t work the other way around.
By default, when you delete photos from Google Photos, they will be deleted from the phone as well. Just in case if you want to retain the photo on the phone but delete the one on Google Photos Cloud, how would you do it? Here’s more on how to Delete Photos from Google Photos but Not from iPhone and Android devices.
Why Does Deleting Photos From Google Photos Delete Photos From Phone?
The question is legit. When you try to delete a photo from the phone, a copy is available on Google Photos. However, when you try to do it the other way around, the original photo stored on your phone is deleted as well. Here are a few possible cases you would end up with.
Case 1: If Photo is Deleted on Phone with Backup & Sync Set as Enabled
In this case, the Backup & Sync feature on Google Photos is enabled. Here, when you delete the original on-device photo, it deletes the photo synced on Google Photos as well aka the online version. It is deleted and you cannot access it via an app or the Google Photos website.
Case 2: If Photo is Deleted on Phone with Backup & Sync Set as Disabled
In this case, you delete the original on-device photo after disabling the Backup & Sync option. The photo will be deleted from your device however you might find photos on other shared devices, however, as soon as the sync is enabled, the photo will vanish from all shared devices as well.
Case 3: If Photo is Deleted on the Website with Disabled Backup & Sync
This particular method requires you to have a computer or access the Google Photos website (on your phone) with the Backup & Sync turned off. When you delete an image on the website, it is deleted from other shared devices, however, the original copy will be available on your phone i.e. the original copy is intact. As soon as you turn on Backup & Sync, the photo will be again backed up on Google Photos again since you have an on-device copy available.
Case 4: If Photo is Deleted on the Website with Backup & Sync Enabled
When you delete an image on the GPhotos website, it is deleted from other synced and shared devices. However, the original copy will be available on your phone. But as the Backup & Sync feature is enabled, the photo will be again backed up on Google Photos. To avoid auto-backup you need to relocate the images out of the Camera folder to any other folder.
How To Delete Photos from Google Photos but Not from Phone?
Now that you know what happens when you try to delete photos from Google Photos and the phone, here’s how you can delete photos from Google Photos without causing any harm to the original copy stored on your device.
Method 1. Disable Backup & Sync from Settings
This method works for both Android and iOS Devices. You can delete photos from the Google Photos cloud but keep the device copy in the device itself for iPhone, Android, and iPad.
Step 1. Open the Google Photos app and tap on your profile image.
Step 2. Now, tap on the Photos settings option.
Step 3. The first option that you will see would be Back up & sync, click it.
Step 4. You need to tap on the toggle to turn it Off.
Step 4: Now open Google Photos on a computer browser. And log in with the same Google account.
Step 5: Delete the photos from the Photos site that you want to delete. This will delete the cloud copy but not the one stored on the device.
Step 6: Deleted photos are thrown in the trash bin where the files sit idle for 60 days before being permanently purged. You can restore deleted photos during this tenure.
The device copy is still on your Android or iPhone device and it won’t get deleted. You can access the photos and videos on your Photos or other Gallery apps.
But if you turn ON the Backup and Sync in the future the photos from your device will again be published to the cloud.
Method 2. Relocate the Camera Photos
By default (if Backup & Sync Enabled), Google Photos uploads all the photos and videos you took from your device’s camera to the cloud. And for images and videos located on other folders, you need to manually grant access to the Google Photos app under its settings.
This method only works for Android as iPhone does not offer the option to create folders.
Step 1. Open the File Manager/Google Files app on your Android. I have my camera content in internal storage.
Step 2. Create a New Folder, let’s name it ‘BB Photos‘.
Step 3. Now look for the DCIM folder. The camera content is stored in the DCIM folder.
Step 4. Open the camera and select all photos that you want to delete from Google Photos and select Move.
Step 5. Now Navigate to the new folder (BB Photos) that you created and paste the selected files.
Once you do so, the files will be automatically deleted from the camera folder of the Google Photos app on your phone and cloud. But you can access these photos/videos from the newly created folder using Photos or any other gallery app.
Step 5: If the photos moved to a new folder still appear on the web version, you need to manually delete them from the website. Launch the Google Photos website and delete the photos there. Deleting them will not affect the pictures and videos moved in the newly created folder on your phone.
These were a couple of the methods that you could use to retain original photos on your phone when deleting the online copy posted on Google Photos for iPhone and Android.