I was looking through the Photos app on my iPhone and was surprised to find a bunch of empty albums. How did they get there and how can I get rid of them? Thanks!
One of the great challenges with applications is that when they’re installed and first invoked, they often make lots of tiny changes to the operating system. New preference files, downloaded data files in the background, changes to how utilities work to better interoperate, and lots of little things. If it’s an audio-visual app, it’s entirely possible that it might install new drivers or create new photo archive folders! If you keep using the program, it’s okay, you’ll undoubtedly utilize these too as you proceed, but if you delete one of these invasive apps, odds are good that it will not perfectly clean up after itself.
This can result on a PC with unneeded drivers, on a Mac with endless “.plist” preferences and settings files from apps you’ve deleted years ago, and on an iPhone with abandoned photo albums. Where are the latter found? You guessed it, in “Photos”. Fortunatley, they’re easy to remove and if you’re overzealous, no worries, the program you forgot about can always re-create the folder if needed. Let’s look at it a bit more closely….
EMPTY ALBUMS IN IOS “PHOTOS”
Grab your iPhone and go into the “Photos” app. If you’re like me, you’ll see lots of great photos that will bring a smile to your face:
If nothing else, you can appreciate my creepy haunted cat picture! But even there, it’s a folder labeled “Instagram” but it only has two images. I post to my account on Instagram all the time – I’m d1taylor over there if you want to follow me! – so where are all the other images? Instagram must have used a separate “Photos” album for a very brief period then changed that design, leaving this orphaned 2-image album. But more than that, there are plenty of empty Albums too.
First off, though, make sure you’ve tapped on “Albums” along the bottom toolbar of “Photos” to get into this view. Now swipe from the right to the left along the top “Albums” section. When I do that, I find:
To be completely candid, I don’t even remember all of the associated apps with these mystery Albums, but the most important thing is to notice that there’s no thumbnail because there are 0 entries in these albums. Exactly what you’re finding in your version of “Photos” too. Ready to delete them?
HOW TO DELETE EMPTY “PHOTOS” ALBUMS
Tap and hold your finger on the thumbnail for an album you’d like to delete. The album is isolated on the screen and a secret menu pops up:
You can Add Photos to the album or Rename Album if you want a new name, but for our task, your target is “Delete Album“. Tap on that.
You’ll have a chance to confirm that you really want to delete the Album (and remember, if there are photos within that aren’t also shared in another Album, they will also be deleted, which actually means moved to the “Recently Deleted” Album until auto-removed in 30 days). I’m going to axe “AKASO GO” so I’ll tap on “Delete Album“.
That’s it. MIssion accomplished. Now when I go to “My Albums” I only see those that actually have contents!
Worth noting is that since these are empty Albums in “Photos” they really aren’t taking up any space at all on your phone, so while it’s good to clean things up occasionally from the perspective of digital hygiene, it’s certainly not necessary. If they’re full of photos you don’t want, however, it can be a very easy way to mass delete lots of images, which will eventually free up space on your mobile device.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing tutorials for the Apple iPhone since it was first released. Please check out my extensive iPhone help area for lots and lots of useful content.