How to delete a picture or video from an Instagram carousel

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The ability to stuff multiple pictures into a single Instagram post is incredibly useful, especially because most of us don’t have the time, energy, or money to commit to daily curated posting like the most successful influencers. What can be complicated is figuring out how to delete one of those images when it no longer belongs in an existing photo dump.

So if you’ve fallen out of love with a picture (or a person) in one of your posts, but haven’t trashed it because you like the other photos, it’s time you learned how to excise that malignant memory like a skilled social media surgeon.

One catch: you can’t delete one image from a two-photo carousel, potentially because that would make it a single-item post and mess with something inside Instagram, though we can’t say for sure. These steps will only work with a post stocked with at least three pieces of media.

  • Step 1: Go to the post and tap the three dots in its top right corner.
  • Step 2: When the options menu appears, ignore the bright red “delete” option and hit Edit.
  • Step 3: Swipe to the image or video you want to send to the trash.
  • Step 4: Tap the little trash can icon in the top left corner of the image. If you can’t see this, scroll up, as the app defaults to editing the post caption. If you still can’t see it, you’re likely working in a two-picture post.
The trash can icon in the top left corner corner of an Instagram carousel photo of a bottle of wine with smoke coming out of it, used for deleting pictures from multiple-image posts.
Where there’s smoke, there’s the trash can icon (at least in this carousel photo). Chelsey Coombs
  • Step 5: Instagram will ask if you really want to scrap it, and you do, so hit Delete to confirm. Your problematic post has been cleansed.
  • Step 6: Hit Done (iOS) or the blue check (Android) in the top right to save your changes.

Instagram’s post editing feature also lets you add and edit tags, the alt text, location, and caption. Unfortunately, you currently can’t use the Edit button to change the order of photos in a carousel post after it goes live, or add images or video at a later date.

How to recover deleted photos or videos on Instagram

Any deleted items will hang out in a folder deep within your settings for 30 days. If you change your mind, you can recover them before that time runs out. Or you can go in and delete them permanently so you’re not tempted to restore them in the future.

To find these discarded pics in their purgatorial location, go to your main Instagram profile page and follow the steps below.

  • Step 1: Tap the three lines in the top right corner.
  • Step 2: Go to Your activity.
  • Step 3: Scroll down and tap Recently deleted.
Your activity page in the Instagram app, showing the Recently deleted folder within an orange circle.
Instagram doesn’t make this easy to find, but it’s there. Chelsey Coombs
  • Step 4: Tap on the image you want to revive
  • Step 5: Hit the three dots in the top right.
  • Step 6: Choose one of the two available options: Restore and Delete. Deleting anything from the Recently Deleted folder will erase it forever, while restoring it will put it back where it was—kind of.

We say “kind of” because if you delete an image from a carousel and then restore it, the photo won’t go back to its original spot in the lineup. It’ll show up at the very end. This may not matter, but if you’ve carefully curated a group of pictures to tell a specific story or exude a certain aesthetic, this could ruin that. And if that’s a problem for you, just reupload the whole batch—maybe you’ll get more likes this time around.

This story has been updated. It was originally published on November 20, 2021.



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