clear iOS camera roll with Pythonista

Sometimes I find the need to clear the camera roll on my iPhone after I have backed up to free up the storage. Interestingly Apple doesn't offer a simple way to do it and it would become a drag if I need to select all the photos by tapping on each of them.

There appears to be few ways to achieve this. One approach requires connect iPhone to computer which I rarely do if never.

Another approach requires using 3rd party app like Gemini Photos which seems to be ok.

However given I have purchased a fantastic app Pythonista 3 and I like using python, so I figured if I can achieve this with the app.

And answer is a sure yes.

Pythonista photos module

Pythonista provides a module called photos which can be used to do a LOT of things to your photos on your ios device.

Before we diving into the final code, I would like to explain few concepts involved really quick to help understand the code.

AssetCollection is the corresponding python type for a photo album. It holds a list of Asset object which contains two pieces information: metadata and image data for a photo.

clear the camera roll

photos module provides get_albums and get_smart_albums method to retrieve an photo album which is AssetCollection object as aforemetioned.

Since I want to clear the Camera Roll and only get_smart_albums return would include it, so we will be using it to begin with.

Next step is straightforward, get the Camera Roll from return result of get_smart_albums by checking the title of an album.

After that we can just delete all the photos from the album by invoking photos.batch_delete(). That method requires a list of Asset object and AssetCollection.assets property is what we need.

That's it!

Here's all the code:

import photos
# NOTE: return of this will not include camera roll
# a = photos.get_albums()

# return of this will include camera roll
albums = photos.get_smart_albums()
camera_roll = [a for a in albums if a.title == 'Camera Roll'][0]
photos.batch_delete(camera_roll.assets)

# NOTE: this will not work! see photos module documentation
#camera_roll.remove_assets(camera_roll.assets)

action

After you run the script, iOS will popup a confirmation dialog before it actually deletes all the photos, it looks like this:

/img/ios-batch-delete-confirm.png

Once you tap Delete button, all photos are gone. I figure it's nice and easy enough for me, if you own the Pythonista already, it might be worth a try.

This is tested with my iPhone6 (running iOS 11.3).

photos module provides much more functionality than this, you can explore its documentation to find out other use cases.