Why you can't use the Image Capture Mac app to delete photos on your iOS devices

It's all because of iCloud.

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I often recommend the not-quite-hidden app Image Capture to people having trouble getting images transferred or sync from iOS devices, especially if they’re using iTunes sync. It’s a way to peer into photo storage on an iOS device, as well as camera cards and other places. (It handles scanners, too, but some readers have found in High Sierra that they had to use Preview with their scanner.)

However, Macworld reader Larry wrote in asking about an article from July 2017 in which we noted that Image Capture also let you delete images directly from an iOS device. (Actually, it was another publication that wrote that article, but we’re happy to answer the question.)

Larry asks, “There is no delete button and delete in the Edit menu is greyed out. What am I doing wrong?”

If you’re using iCloud Photo Library on your iOS device, Image Capture disables the Delete button, as iCloud manages all the images and videos stored on that iOS device. If you could delete from Image Capture, it would have to prompt you about deleting from all other devices connected to iCloud Photo Library and from iCloud.com, and that goes beyond the task level assigned to Image Capture.

mac911 image capture no delete button Glenn Fleishman

Image Capture won't let you delete photos or videos for devices using iCloud Photo Library.

With iCloud Photo Library enabled, you have to use iCloud.com, or an iOS device or Mac with the feature enabled to delete images. Those images will then be deleted off every connected device and iCloud.com.

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