How to restore delete files, photos, bookmarks, and more from iCloud

iCloud acts as a repository of some data and the conduit through which other passes. For certain categories, it also retains a backup of items you delete or update. Here’s how to restore data when you’re using iCloud sync or iCloud Drive across these services.

iCloud Photos

Delete photos and videos in Photos on any device and you’re prompted that the media will be deleted from all your devices linked to the account. However, the image or movie isn’t immediately tossed. Rather, it’s put in the Recently Deleted album, which is available from all your linked devices as well. (If you don’t use iCloud Photos, the album appears only on the device you deleted the image from.)

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Photos retains deleted images and videos for up to 30 days in a conveniently accessible album.

A label overlaying or beneath each image or video lets you know how many days are left before it’s deleted permanently. (Depending on your region of the world and other factors, Photos may also note for data-retention disclosure purposes that images will not be permanently deleted for some period of time after they’re removed from your account.)

In Photos in iOS, iPadOS, macOS, or at iCloud.com, select the Recently Deleted album. You can then select one or more pieces of media and click or tap Recover. The media is now placed back in your main library.

iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive has two places from which you can restore recently deleted files.

For the first method, log into your account at icloud.com. Click Account Settings, and then, under the Advanced label in the lower-left corner of the screen, click Restore Files. It brings up a sort of pop-up dialog.

The Restore Files tab shows files that you can select and click Restore to retrieve to their original location.

For some apps, you navigate to iCloud Drive at icloud.com and click the Recently Deleted link at the lower-right corner of the screen. This brings up a view quite similar to the Recently Deleted album in Photos. You can select and restore items from there.