iCloud Photo Library & iPhone Storage Space

Be careful when deleting photos or videos from your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or iCloud web app if you use iCloud Photo Library. Doing so may permanently remove the deleted photos from all devices.

Plus, it’s not even necessary in most cases, as both iOS and macOS can automatically manage storage space allocated to photos. Continue reading to learn how that works.

Until recently, the base models of Apple’s iOS devices had only 16GB of data storage. At the same time, the iPhone became our go-to camera for taking photos and recording videos.

As a result, many users ran out of available storage space and thus had to regularly delete or transfer photos and videos to an external hard drive or a cloud storage account like Dropbox.

Then Apple introduced the iCloud Photo Library, which keeps all of your photographic memories synced across all of your devices. That’s great, because a photo or video you took on your iPhone would automatically appear on your iPad or Mac. Even edits and changes would synchronize seamlessly (most of the time).

With the iCloud Photos Library, gone are the days of manual synchronization!

iCloud Photo Library works seamlessly with the Photos app to keep your photos and videos securely stored in iCloud and up to date on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV, and iCloud.com.

Apple

iCloud Photo Library

Why you should not delete photos to free up space on your iPhone
Click on the image to watch the video on YouTube.

To enable iCloud Photo Library, perform the following steps:

  • On a Mac with OS X 10.10.3 or later:
    • Go to System Preferences > iCloud
    • Click Options next to Photos
    • Select iCloud Photo Library
  • On an iOS device, such as iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 8.3 or later:
    • Go to Settings > iCloud > Photos
    • Turn on iCloud Photo Library
  • On Apple TV (4th generation) with tvOS 9.2 or later:
    • Go to Settings > Accounts > iCloud > iCloud Photo Library
  • On a Windows PC

Despite all the performance issues I had when iCloud Photo Library was first released, I have used it ever since. It meets my requirements and fits well into my photo editing workflow, so I have enabled it on all of my devices.

iCloud Photo Library: Do not delete photos from an iPhone to free up space
Optimize Mac Storage (macOS device).

How iCloud Manages Your Storage

iCloud Photo Library has two settings that determine how it manages storage on your devices:

  • Download originals, or
  • Optimize storage

As the name implies, the first option downloads and stores full-resolution photos and videos from the cloud. If your device runs out of available storage space, iCloud Photo Library will stop synchronizing to that device until space becomes available again.

Note: Newer versions of iOS and macOS warn you if you try to enable “Download originals” but your photo library is larger than the local storage.

I use this setting on my iMac Pro, but my photo library is stored on a LaCie Big5 Thunderbolt 2 RAID (an external hard drive) with plenty of disk space.

iCloud Photo Library: Do not delete photos from an iPhone to free up space
Optimize iPhone Storage (iOS device).

On all my iOS devices, as well as on my 13-inch MacBook Pro, I use the Optimize Storage setting.

If you turn on Optimize Storage, iCloud Photo Library automatically manages the size of your library on your device. Your original photos and videos are stored in iCloud and space-saving versions are kept on your device.

Your library is optimized only when you need space, starting with the photos and videos you access least. You can download the original photos and videos over Wi-Fi or cellular when you need them. You can use Optimize Storage on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.

Apple

As you can see, Optimize Storage virtually eliminates the need to manually delete photos or videos in order to save storage space.

But what if you want to remove photos regardless?

How to Delete Photos in iCloud Photo Library

As noted above, iCloud Photo Library keeps all of your photos and videos synced across all of your devices. That includes deleted images. As a result, when you delete a photo or video on one device, it will be deleted from all of your other devices as well!

This is a lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way.

Technically, upon deletion, iCloud Photo Library moves the deleted image into a unique folder called “Recently Deleted.” It remains there for about 40 days before vanishing forever.

How to Recover Deleted Photos on iPhone

You can recover deleted pictures from an iOS device or Mac, as long as they’re in the Recently Deleted folder. To access that folder, go to Albums in the Photos app and scroll down to the bottom.

iCloud Photo Library: Do not delete photos from an iPhone to free up space

Note that in iOS 13 and later, the “recently deleted” folder no longer appears as a thumbnail as pictured above, but as a blue text link (it’s still in the same location).

Once you’ve navigated to the folder, simply select the pictures you’d like to restore and tap “Recover” in the bottom right corner of the screen.

You can also recover bookmarks, contacts, calendars and files that have been deleted from your synced devices. Just log into icloud.com, click or tap “Account Settings,” and scroll down to the bottom of the page. You’ll see a list of links that allow you to restore all of the above within 30 days after deletion. After that, they’re gone forever.

Note that with iCloud Photo Library, it is not possible to delete an image from only one device!

Instead, deleted pictures will disappear from all devices that have iCloud Photo Library enabled. As an alternative, you can hide selected images, which places them in a unique album called “Hidden.”

Tips If Your iCloud Storage Is Full

iCloud Storage Is Full
iCloud storage is full.

If you run out of iCloud storage space, your devices might stop backing up (to iCloud) and they won’t be able to upload photos and videos to iCloud Photo Library, among other potential problems.

If you see a warning like the one in the screenshot above, the first thing you want to do is figure out exactly what apps are using that space.

To do that in iOS 13, go to: Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Manage Storage.

By understanding how iOS manages your iCloud storage, you can find potential culprits, such as messaging apps, that hog unreasonable amounts of storage space.

For example, you might have configured WhatsApp to indefinitely hold onto each media attachment you receive. If so, those attachments would likely count as photos in the Manage Storage overview graph — even if they’re not photos and videos you’ve taken with your own device.

Another culprit I often see are iCloud backups from devices that are no longer in use.

Last but not least, if you use Family Sharing, make sure the problem isn’t that another family member is using all of your storage space.

Once you identify which apps are using your iCloud storage, you can decide if you really need to hold onto that data. Most apps give you an option to delete their data (such as the attachments from messaging apps) without having to remove the app. So try that first!

What to Do If It’s Not an App

If you’ve determined that the problem is indeed the photos or videos in your iCloud Photo Library, then you have only two choices:

  1. Permanently delete photos and videos from iCloud Photo Library
  2. Upgrade your iCloud storage

If you decide to permanently delete media from your photo library, make sure you have a good backup first. The easiest way to create a backup is on a Mac that has “Download originals” enabled. Why?

Because you can simply use the Photos.app on that Mac to export all photos and videos to an external drive (or Dropbox) before deleting them.

Once you’ve created a backup, you can delete photos from iCloud.com or any device that has iCloud Photo Library enabled. Just don’t forget to also empty the “Recently Deleted” album, because otherwise you won’t see your storage space free up right away.

The better approach, in my opinion, is to spend a few extra dollars to upgrade your iCloud storage. Current pricing is reasonable, as you can see below:

  • 50GB: $0.99 per month
  • 200GB: $2.99 per month
  • 2TB: $9.99 per month

5 Tips If Your iPhone Storage Is Full

A familiar dialog for some users: Storage Almost Full: You can manage your storage in Settings.
A familiar dialog for some users: “Storage Almost Full: You can manage your storage in Settings.”

If you have plenty of iCloud storage but your iPhone or iPad is running out of space, here are some tips to find out what apps are using the space and how you can free some of it up.

1. Offload or Delete Unused Apps

iPhone Storage: Offload Unused Apps and Review Large Attachments
iPhone storage: offload unused apps and review large attachments.

Apple introduced a feature in iOS 11 called “Offload Unused Apps.” If you enable that feature in Settings > General > iPhone Storage, iOS will automatically remove unused apps when you’re low on storage while preserving the documents and data associated with those apps.

That’s an excellent way to free up space without having to worry about losing data.

Alternatively, I recommend simply deleting apps you don’t need. If you’ve had your iPhone for a while, chances are that you’re experiencing “app creep.” That’s an accumulation of apps you’ve downloaded over time but never actually use.

I go through my apps every couple of months and remove what I haven’t used in a while. Not only does that free up space, it also removes clutter and makes the apps I do use easier to find.

2. Enable iCloud Photo Library + Optimize Storage

Most other posts on this topic I’ve seen recommend deleting unwanted photos and videos. However, as we’ve discussed in this article already, that’s not necessary if you use iCloud Photo Library and enable “Optimize storage.”

By doing so, iOS manages its photo storage automatically to make sure photos and videos don’t consume significant local storage space.

3. Review Large Attachments

The second cool feature Apple introduced in iOS 11 is called “Review Large Attachments,” and you can also find it under “iPhone Storage” in the Settings app.

The feature is a way of seeing how much space photo and video attachments in the Messages app are taking up. Plus, you can quickly remove individual attachments and thus free up space on your iOS device.

4. Review the Storage Usage of Apps

Manage storage space of Podcast app
Manage the storage space of the Podcast app.

If none of the above has helped so far, it’s time to figure out what apps are consuming most of your storage space. To do that, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and look at the app list.

If you see offending apps, you have a couple of options:

  • Delete app data (if the app offers that option)
  • Offload app
  • Delete app

Some apps, such as the built-in Podcasts app, allow you to remove downloaded episodes directly from within the iPhone Storage screen. Others may allow you to delete data from within the app.

If you can’t do either, consider offloading or deleting the app.

There are some apps that tend to accumulate vast amounts of data. Facebook is such an example. So it might be worthwhile removing such offending apps, restarting the device, and seeing if that helped.

Either way, you can easily re-download the app and continue using it without having lost any data.

5. Clear Safari Cache

Safari: Clear History and Website Data
Safari: Clear History and Website Data.

Safari — much like any other browser — leverages cache to speed up your browsing experience. That cache can grow in size over time. While I assume Apple is smart enough to let Safari manage its cache properly, some users have had success by clearing that cache to free up space.

To do so, go to Settings > Safari > Clean History and Website Data.

Note that by doing so, you’ll lose your browsing history and all cookies. That means you’ll have to re-login to every page that Safari had a cookie for.

4 Hail Mary Tips If You’re Desperate

While browsing other articles on this subject, I’ve seen other tips that I don’t think are going to help. But if everything else fails, I guess they’re worth trying.

1. Reset All Settings

Resetting your settings won’t erase any of your data. So I don’t know why you would want to try that. But if you do, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings.

2. Backup And Restore

I highly recommend automatically backing up your iPhone to iCloud every night. If you don’t have sufficient space in iCloud, you can use iTunes to back up your device when you connect it to your computer.

Some people have suggested creating and restoring a backup to fix the storage problem. I don’t see how that’s going to work, unless you use third-party software to remove certain data from the backup file.

But instead of doing that, just remove the data from the phone directly, instead of going through the hassle or modifying a backup file.

3. Turn Off iCloud Drive

Another useless tip I’ve seen is to turn off iCloud Drive. By default, iOS uses an “optimize storage” setting for iCloud Drive. That means iOS only keeps copies of recently used items on your device. Everything else lives in the cloud and does not consume local storage space.

4. Buy a New iPhone

Current iPhone Storage Options
Current iPhone storage options.

If you just got a new (or used) phone and it only has 16GB of storage, this tip might sound corny. The good news is that Apple has increased the minimum storage space in all new iPhone models to 64GB.

So going forward, there should be much less of a risk of running out of space.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

iCloud Photo Library: Do not delete photos from an iPhone to free up space
My iPhone is out of storage. How can I delete photos or videos to free up storage?

You don’t have to delete anything. Just make sure you have enabled “Optimize iPhone Storage” as described above. That way, iOS will automatically remove photos and videos from your iPhone, but will keep them in cloud storage.

You will still “see” those photos on your iPhone, but that’s a low-resolution thumbnail rather than the actual photo or video.

If I disable iCloud or iCloud Photo Library, will iOS delete the photos from my iPhone?

Depending on whether you have “Optimize iPhone Storage” enabled in the settings and if your iPhone has finished syncing with iCloud, iOS may remove photos and videos that were not downloaded to your device before you disabled iCloud.

But don’t worry: those photos will still be available in iCloud, and you can access them from any computer by visiting icloud.com.

When I delete a photo, iOS says “This photo will be deleted immediately.” Why?

It could be that you’re not using iCloud Photo Library. Or, you might be out of iCloud storage, which means that iOS cannot move the deleted image to the “Recently Deleted” album.

After enabling “Optimize iPhone Storage” my phone is still full. What’s going on?

You can see which apps are consuming storage space on your iPhone by going to Settings > General > iPhone Storage.

Is it possible to “selectively” sync photos and videos, like in Dropbox?

Unfortunately, it is not. Your Mac and iPhone either sync nothing, sync everything, or automatically manage storage.

What happens if I delete a photo or video from the iCloud web app (icloud.com/photos)?

That has the same effect as deleting a photo or video on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with iCloud Photo Library enabled. In other words, the photo or video would be removed from all other iCloud Photo Library-enabled devices.

What if I don’t want iCloud to remove photos from all devices automatically?

If you don’t want deleted files to be synchronized, do not enable iCloud Photo Library. Of course, by disabling iCloud Photo Library, your devices won’t sync any edits or changes to photos or videos.

I have done everything you said above, but I am still low on space, despite having iCloud Photo Library enabled. What now?

Double check to make sure you don’t have “Upload to My Photo Stream” enabled. That’s the predecessor of iCloud Photo Library, and when enabled, it creates copies of your images, but it doesn’t synchronize deleted files or any changes to your pictures.

Any photos or videos stored in “My Photo Stream” take up space and may not be subject to the “Optimize iPhone Storage” settings. If everything else fails, connect your iPhone via USB to a Mac or Windows machine, transfer all pictures, and then reset your iPhone to factory settings.

When you set it up new, make sure to enable iCloud Photo Library from the get-go. If that doesn’t work, or you don’t feel confident doing it, go to an Apple Store and ask for help.

What happens to images or videos that I manually import via the Photos app on my Mac?

With iCloud Photo Library enabled, the Photos app will upload any images or videos to iCloud. If you have iCloud Photo Library disabled, Photos stores any imported items locally, without uploading them to iCloud.

I have thousands of photos and would like to store only the newest ones in iCloud. What can I do?

You can create a second library using the Photos app and store it on a drive with sufficient storage space (like the LaCie). You can then regularly export the oldest images (using a Smart Album) and import them into the secondary library.

Just make sure to backup your second library so that you won’t lose any data if the hard disk fails. I’d recommend a quality RAID unit in combination with daily backups.

Do Not Delete Photos to Free Up Space!

Using the iCloud photos library can be a convenient way to manage your digital images and videos. However, many iPhone users have lost parts of (or all of) their library as a result of not fully understanding how the system works.

If you came to this page wondering how to free up space on iPhone, just remember that taking that step is no longer necessary. By utilizing the “Optimize Storage” feature described above, your iPhone will only download full-resolution photos when you request them, freeing up your device’s storage space.

Of course, utilizing that feature requires you to sync your photos on iCloud. Anything you delete from one device will also be deleted from every other synced device. And they can only be recovered for 40 days. After that, the files are gone for good. So it’s worth taking a few minutes to make sure your settings are properly configured, and to make sure you understand how synced photos are stored and deleted.

I hope this article clarifies some of the misconceptions when it comes to storage needs and deleting photos from iPhone. But if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

156 thoughts on “iCloud Photo Library & iPhone Storage Space”

  1. Thanks, this is useful. However, I am transferring all my pictures out of Photos as I want more control. I have iCloud Photos enabled on my iPhone and ‘Download & keep Originals’. But there are a lot of pictures on my iPhone which are not in Photos on iCloud. This seems odd and means I can’t export the pictures from iCloud but have to import them onto my hard drive direct from the phone – any idea why this is?

    Reply
  2. What happens when you disable iCloud Photos on two devices that previously were both synched to iCloud, then make various changes on both devices (delete some pictures on one, add some pictures on the other) and then reconnect them to iCloud Photos. Which device’s changes win?

    Reply
    • Hi Beatrix,

      I would assume that if there are conflicting changes, the last change (based on the timestamp) wins. So if you edit the same photo on two devices (while iCloud Photo Library is disabled on both), the edit you made last wins. If iCloud cannot resolve the conflict for whatever reason, you might end up with duplicate photos.

      Cheers,
      Michael

      Reply
      • Ken
        Michael the other day I had a brain explosion and changed my preference to keep original photos on my iPad. When I noticed
        that most of my storage was gone I decided to change the preference back to optimise storage.
        The change back does not seemed to have happened.
        Can I turn off iCloud Photo Library and then turn it back on to sync to the optimised setting.
        Or would be better to wipe the iPad and start again using an iCloud backup before my stupid act?
        Thank You

        Reply
        • Hi Ken,

          I would give it a few days, and maybe a restart of the iPad to see if iOS starts releasing used storage space. If that doesn’t happen, you can turn off iCloud Photo Library and let it resync. If you don’t have any photos locally on your iPad that aren’t in iCloud yet, you won’t lose any data by doing so.

          Cheers,
          Michael

          Reply
  3. This is not helping us, we are in our 50’s and don’t understand any of this. We are just trying to utilize what we have but we have googled and tried Siri and cannot get any good info. We give up, thanks!!

    Reply
    • Hi Allen & Kim,

      If you have an Apple Store nearby, I’d recommend getting a one-on-one with a genius who can walk you through everything. If that’s not an option, maybe you have a tech-savvy relative who can assist.

      Cheers,
      Michael

      Reply
  4. My iphone has 250GB, and use optimized storage, My I cloud is far from being full (I bought extra), but my Mac was 121Gb when Icloud started to sync originals there. Of course, it stuck and I had upgrade memorie in Mac Book Pro, but now all pics which are there are not uploaded completely (even those which were before and I can’t do anything with them. How I can delete them all but be sure they all are safe in I cloud ( I checked they are still there, but i don’t dare to delete on Mac. IT SAYS THAT MY IPHOTO UPDATING RIGHT NOW AND I WILL lose EVERYTHING WHAT IS NOT COMPLETED, BUT IT LOOKS THEY NEVER WILL BE COMPLETED? THANKS in advance for your help!

    Reply
  5. I personally disagree with this. Even if you use iCloud services, your photos still take up lots of space, and when you want to scroll through photos, it takes way too long to load up. I prefer using google photos and permanently deleting the photos from my phone.

    Reply
  6. Hi there: Thanks so much for sharing your insights.
    Can you direct me to any resources that will help me with the following:
    1. i wish to have a complete and separate backup of all my photos on my mac book pro.
    2. I have tons of photos in an old “iPhoto” library (from the original “iPhotos” with old operating systems) (may not be using correct terms..sorry)
    and i also have a huge “photos” library…from new operating sys.

    It’s been a bit confusing…sorting the two formats out. So far, I have tried manually to back up to a 1TB external hard drive through USB. I think it’s worked but it took forever and I really want to be sure. Also, i’m guessing I should probably try backing up to something else…but don’t know how or what.
    Any hints or resources re: making full backups of the two formats of iphoto/photos libraries would be helpful. Hope this question makes some sense.

    Thanks so much.

    Reply
  7. when i use the optimize photos feature on my iPhone, will the photos I take with my phone still be of the highest possible quality?

    Reply
  8. I have ALL my photos in iCloud (4,156). I would like to not have all the pictures available on my mobile devices: such as the baby pictures of my adult nephews now that I have their children’s baby pictures. I am the family keeper of photos. Is there a way to archive folders and not make them accessible or is it best to download them to flash drives and delete them from the Cloud?

    Reply
  9. I am not a fan of apple products because of this. I am trying to help my wife put her photos on the pc, then remove the photos from her phone. She had the cloud enabled, I downloaded the photos to the PC, but what you are saying is if I delete the photos from her phone we will lose them on the pc as well! How do I make sure that when she deletes them from the phone it will not be deleted from the PC?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Phil,

      You have to be a bit more specific. How did you download you’re wife’s photos to her PC? Using iCould Photo Library? Did you download the originals? If so, you can disable iCloud Photo Library and stop synching. That way, the photos won’t get deleted when you remove them from the iPhone (which isn’t even necessary if your goal is to save space). Alternatively, you could simply copy the photos out of her iCloud Photo Library and into a different folder on her PC.

      Cheers
      Michael

      Reply
  10. Nice explanation about iCloud functionality Michael!
    Maybe you know about this issue. I have enabled iCloud Photos and Optimize iPhone Storage.
    Last week I was looking for some holiday pictures on my iPhone, made in August. I missed a number of them. However, they are to be found when I log in on iCloud on my desktop via Safari.
    I have changed from iPhone 7 to X in November and restored my iCloud backup. Maybe that has someting to do with it.
    Any idea how to get them in sync again? (Thanks in advance)
    Kind Regards, Ruud

    Reply
    • Hi Rudd,

      I suspect that iCloud Photo Library might not be enabled on your iPhone X, and thus, your new phone is out of sync with your photo library. Have you verified that all iCloud Photo services are enabled?

      Cheers
      Michael

      Reply
  11. thanks for your article. Here’s what I really want to do – take a photo or video on my iphone and have that photo/video automatically sync (via wifi) to my mac mini photo library, without anything being stored in a cloud – in other words, use iCloud or another service solely for automatic photo/video transfer to my server, and not for any cloud backup, sharing, or storage. Is there anything you are aware of that can help with this?

    Reply
  12. Hello
    I would like to know why when I deleted pictures from my phone I don’t have more space available in ICloud.

    Reply
    • With iCloud Photo Library enabled, deleted photos and videos get moved to the “Recently Deleted” album. Once you remove them from there, you should see your space increase.

      Reply
  13. HI, I recovered photos in my icloud that I originally deleted through my iPhone. Now, I can see the recovered photos on my iCloud on my MacBook, but I can not see the recovered photos on my iPhone. Will I ever be able to see the recovered photos on my iPhone.

    Reply
    • If iCloud Photo Library is enabled on both your MacBook and iPhone, they should sync down. If your iPhone isn’t syncing, it could be out of storage space or you might have to restart it.

      Reply
  14. I would like to upload my iphoto library from my mac to iCloud. My iCloud photos currently only has the photos that are on my phone. I have followed the steps above and optimized storage but my Mac library isn’t syncing. How do I accomplish this?

    Reply
    • How long ago have you enabled iCloud Photo Library, how fast is your internet connection and how large is your library?

      Also, have you restarted your Mac already – just in case?

      Reply
  15. Thank you for replying saying deleted photos will sync back as soon as library goes back on. Is there anyway to stop this so they just stay on the cloud until I need them? Or do I need to delete them from the iCloud too to stop it? In which case iCloud not a very good storage option. ? Seems to be all or nothing.

    Reply
    • Hi Angie,

      iCloud Photo Library is an all or nothing by design. The only way to stop synching is to not enable it – or you can delete the unwanted images from the library permanently. iCloud Photo Library is an excellent storage options for photos and videos if you use it the way Apple intended :)

      Reply
  16. I’m planning to copy across the photos I don’t really need to an external hard drive on my iPad Air 2 and delete them on the iPad but I want to keep them on my iCloud library storage. Is it correct if I turn off the iCloud library on my iPad, back up to hard disk, then delete from iPad then enable the library they won’t redownload but will still be in the cloud? Also how do I access the files in the cloud? Is it a weblink/Page?
    Many thanks

    Reply
  17. This was a very interesting article and comments.

    I have 50GB of iCloud storage and don’t want to pay for more. This has now filled up after 3 years. I have cleared some space in iCloud by exporting the original photos in Photos (using “Export Originals”) to another drive and then deleting them from Photos (and hence from iCloud and other devices, my iPad and iPhone). Let’s call these photos the “XOPs” for “Exported Original Photos”. In this context I have several elementary questions; my apologies if some of these were (partially) answered above.

    1) If I import any of these XOPs back into Photos, I expect that they will upload again into the cloud — is that correct? More generally, from what I can see, ANY kind of photo (from another camera, a GoPro, etc) if imported into Photos will upload to iCloud — is that correct?

    2) What is the best practice for saving photos and videos in the long term? I have more than 10,000 Photos and videos over the past 3 years, and this goes way above my 50Gb iCloud storage. What I would like to do is have the most recent Photos in iCloud (and hence on my other devices) but older ones in the Photos facility on my laptop so that I can look at them at my leisure, make slideshows, videos, etc that use older (non-iCloud photos) as well as the new ones. What is the best way to deal with this short-term/long-term issue with photos?

    3) What is the best way to sort photos in Photos? In iPhoto one could “sort by filename”, which was very useful since I could re-sequence my photos, export them with renamed sequence, and then import back into iPhoto and the new sequence was always preserved if I sorted by filename. I have read a lot on the internet about the “sort by filename” having been removed from Photos. Is there some workaround that allows you to sort (and retain) your photos in the sequence that you want?

    4) I gather that the best practice is to check “iCloud Photo Library” and not check “My Photo Stream” in Settings/iCloud/Photos. Is that correct?

    thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Robert!

      I updated the FAQ to answers your questions 1 and 2 – please check it out and let me know if those make sense. Re #3, Photos wants you to use its way of presenting photos and sorting by file name is not an option as far as I can tell.

      Re 4) Correct.

      Reply
  18. I have a MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone, all with iphoto iCloud turned on. But I really dont want duplicates of all my photos on all devices. I use my iPad a lot when traveling to download shows to watch on boring long flights. But my iPad is running out of storage due to the thousands of photos that I have stored (not by choice!). If I turn off iPhoto iCloud on my iPad and delete some photos, will they remain in the cloud and therefore on my phone and MacBook?
    Please help

    Reply
    • Hi Kerrie: I believe I answered all of your questions in my article – but here is a recap: iCloud Photo Library does not fill up your available storage space. Yes, you can turn it off on one device and delete photos without deleting them from iCloud and other devices.

      Reply
  19. My laptop photo storage is full, if you put all of your photos on a hard drive, is it safe to delete all of the photos from my laptop?

    Reply
  20. Great article. Thank you.
    I do not have iCloud Library enabled on my MacBookPro or my iPhone 7s and don’t want to enable it. I have two related questions:
    – When I take pictures with my iPhone, they show up in my laptop’s Photos>All Photos album and they only sometimes show up in Photos> My Photo Stream album. For instance the photos I took today were in the All Photos album but 6 hours later, they are still not in the My Photo Stream album. Can you help me to understand why? My Photo Stream is on on both devices.
    – Although the photos sync from my iPhone to my computer, none of the album names/organization does. How can I get the albums structure to duplicate on both devices?

    Thank you very much.

    Reply
    • Hi Jane,

      With only My Photo Stream enabled (but not iCloud Photo Library), nothing SYNCS. iCloud just COPIES your photo to the My Photo Stream folder (unreliable in your case, it seems like), but you won’t get the benefits of synching metadata, such as album names or hierarchies etc. That’s what iCloud Photo Library is for :)

      Reply
  21. “deleting photos may permanently remove them from all devices”

    Hi, What do you mean, “may”? When WOULDN’T that happen? THX

    Reply
    • I say may because, technically, deleted images get first transferred to the Recently Deleted album before Apple removes them permanently. If you are out of space, that move may not occur and images may get permanently deleted immediately.

      Reply
  22. So I optimize my photos and have the low resolution file on my phone and original size file on my cloud… what if I want to print one picture from my phone. Can i download one photo or video to have the original size back on my phone?

    Reply
    • They download when you click on them ( little white circle icon spins on picture)- but beware, it MAY not be giving you the original sized photo but an intermediate size it deems suitable for your device. I thought I’d saved full res photos from an iPad but when I examined the file data (which I couldn’t do on my iOS device) it turned out they were kind of half sized! Very annoying as I’d deleted the originals from iCloud before I realised- ( trying to free up space- iphone full despite ‘optimising’ being on). I’m going to try and retrieve all my other original photos ( hopefully full sized -who knows?) from iCloud (via iCloud for Windows) and manage them somewhere else that allows you to see normal file data (like size!)and to delete things from your device without losing them everywhere. Optimisation and iCloud Photo Library sounded like a good idea but too opaque for me!

      Reply
  23. Hi there, I have read thru all of this and still have a question. I’m upgrading my phone and will need to wipe the old one clean of all apps, material etc as I’ll be passing it on to my son. What do I need to do to ensure that I don’t lose all the photos I have taken with my old phone? Will they just come up on my new phone when I sign into iCloud or will they have been deleted when I cleared my old phone?

    Reply
    • Hi Coumba,

      If you have iCloud Photo Library enabled and the library is fully synched up, you won’t lose anything by wiping the phone. When you log in to your new iPhone with your Apple ID, the photos will sync back.

      But in either case, I highly recommend making a backup of your old iPhone before wiping it – either via iCloud or iTunes.

      Reply
  24. Hi Michael –

    When i read you blog, you mentioned that if a photo gets deleted, it also gets deleted to other devices. But since i only have one apple device and that is my iPhone, what happens when i delete a photo on my iPhone regardless if Optimize Storage is on? Will it still keep a copy on iCloud? Or if delete a photo in my phone, it also deletes the one in iCloud Photo Library?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Julian,

      I should have said “from all devices and iCloud.com” – in other words, if you delete a photo from your iPhone with iCloud Photo Library enabled, regardless of if you have Optimize Storage selected or not, the photo will also get deleted from iCloud.com. Technically, iOS moves the photo to the Recently Deleted album, from where iCloud permanently removes it 30-40 days later.

      Reply
  25. If my iCloud storage is full and I want to disable it from my photo library, will my photos delete from my device after the 30 days I have to download them?

    Reply
    • Hi Yoselline,

      When you disable iCloud Photo Library, iOS will ask you if you want to keep or delete the photos from your device. Simply choose “keep” and you won’t lose any photos.

      Reply
  26. Hello Michael!
    My issue is the following: i`ve upgraded icloud storage and turned on icloud photo library but the photos wouldn`t sync – i don`t see them if i go to icloud.com and my the iphone storage still full (optimize button is on)

    Any thought highly appreciated

    Reply
  27. Michael,

    I’m in a very weird position where when I got a new phone (X) only my photo stream and not the previous 8 Year’s of photos from my 7 sync’d. ATT wiped my 7 before I realized the issue. It’s a nightmare. I wonder if it could have had something to do with this new feature. Apple support has no idea what happened, nor can they fix the issue.

    So in trying to salvage what I can, I created a manual backup of the new X with one month of photos. Then I restored my phone back to an old backup from 2016, the last time I backed up to a computer manually. At least then I’m losing “only” 2 years of photos. I have set these to sync with iCloud Libeary. My idea was to then again re-wipe my phone, restore to the latest update I made today, and presto changeo, have photos up until 2 years ago through iCloud Library and photos from the last month through my most recent backup.

    My only concern and question is, is it possible when I wipe my phone that is currently restored to the 2016 backup, that it will delete those photos from 2010-2016 from iCloud library, and defeat the whole project?

    Any advice really appreciated, this has been a total nightmare. Moral of the story: Never rely on iCloud backups.

    Reply
  28. Hi Michael,
    On my iphone8 I have iCloud Photo Library enabled and optimize iPhone Storage enabled and I also have Upload to My Photo Stream enabled.

    If I try to disable Upload to My Photo Stream a message says “Turning off Photo Stream will delete all Photo Stream photos from your iPhone.”
    Does that mean I delete all my pictures on my iPhone?
    What is the purpose of Photo Stream if iCloud Photo Library stores all photos?

    Reply
  29. Hi Michael…I’ve scrolled though all comments and your excellent answers but still feel confused! Here is my situation: I have close to 10,000 in the iCloud Library. They are all on my PC, iPhone and iPad. If I understand correctly what you have written, there is no way to delete photos with one action on all three devices. To delete photos from all three sites, I will have to do this in two stages: first, I can delete them on my iPad (which will also delete them from my iPhone), and then I will have to go on my PC and do the exact same process on it. Then the photos will be gone on all three sites. Is this correct?

    Reply
    • Hi Janet!

      I don’t own a PC, so I’m not sure how well Apple has integrated iCloud Photo Library with Windows. But I think, they have an iCloud app for Windows that does provide support for iCloud Photo Library. If so, the app should take care of the synching, unless you copied the photos out of the special sync folder. If so, you’ll have to delete them manually.

      Reply
      • Hi MICHAEL, I have iCloud library and myPC and iPad and iPhone are all synched. My question is how do I permanently delete unwanted photos from all three? Do I have to do it intro stages as I asked in my original question?

        Reply
  30. Hi. Your article is clearer than anything else I have read, but I’m still struggling. I have a similar problem to Cindy above. My icloud was full so I upgraded to 50gb but it is still full. I use a mac, iphone and 2 ipads. I see that Apple responded to Cindy’s query with, “Cindy you are out of iCloud storage. Photos get deleted permantly when there is no storage left for them to go to. I would recommend backing up your phone and then deleting any old iCloud back ups.” How do I back up only the photos that were taken on the device (not all the photos that have synced from my Mac? I don’t want to lose the photos that have not been going to iCloud during the months I’ve been out of storage, but nor do I want multiple copies of the other photos backed up. Many thanks for your help!!!

    Reply
    • If you want to continue using iCloud Photo Library, you have to purchase enough storage space (200GB+). If you don’t want to use iCloud Photo Library (and thus disable sync), disable it and keep all of your photos on your iPhone only. If you don’t have enough space on your iPhone either – you will have to upgrade iCloud for a permanent solution.

      Otherwise, you’ll have to connect your iPhone via USB cable to your Mac, and use an app like Image Capture (comes with macOS) to copy photos over.

      Reply
  31. Hi Michael,

    I’m about to get a new iphone and have realised I didn’t have it set up like you’ve said in this thread. Am I right in thinking that if I turn off photo stream, have icloud library on and select optimise iphone storage then my new phone will show all my old photos on icloud and all new ones will be stored in icloud with only minimal storage being used on the phone? (I’m going from 64GB to 32GB phone storage.)

    Thanks

    Reply
  32. Once again disappointed by Apple. I enabled iCloud Photos on all devices. Used my Mac as the main library. Synced everything to all devices. Deleted a bunch of photos on my Mac. Neither my iPhone nor iPad update to reflect the changes. I even tried signing out of iCloud and signing back in. Why can’t Apple get this right after 10 years of cloud [email protected]$#t

    Reply
  33. Hi Michael, since I don’t need all my photos on my iphone how can I just keep them on my imac and just delete them from my iphone? Should I disable iCloud Photo Library and delete them from the phone? Will they remain on my imac? Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Theo,

      I assume you use your iPhone to take photos. If so, you need to have iCloud Photo Library enabled, because otherwise, they won’t get uploaded in full-resolution to iCloud and thus you won’t have them on your iMac. The only alternative to that is to disable iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone and periodically transfer images to your iMac manually. Then you can delete the transferred photos from your iPhone.

      Reply
  34. Hi, I really hope you can help me, I’m pretty desperate by now: I have a 16GB iPhone (sigh) and after some earlier tips my phone is now full (zero kb available) and I have ‘optimise storage’ turned on. 4000 photos are on my phone as thumbnails (for several hundreds only a cloud is visible, not even a thumbnail) and. 3800 of those photos are also on iCloud (50GB account, half of it left). The most recent 200 are not. When I look on my iPhone in ‘iCloud’ it says ‘Low Disk Space’ -Uploading 200 items’. That number doesn’t change.

    When I delete photos on my iPhone, I temporarily go from 0kb to 105MB for example. That 105MB is gone within minutes though, and then my phone is full again. Looks like it uses the renewed open space to download more thumbnails or something? The total amount of space Photos is taking on my iPhone stays approx the same, no matter how many photos I delete on my Phone.

    So what I want, is to have thumbnails on my Phone, and the originals on iCloud. The settings are already in such a way this should be the case, right? But apparently it’s not working; Photos takes up 1GB on my Phone.

    Also: if I delete photos on my iPhone, they are deleted on iCloud as well. I thought this was NOT supposed to be the case? How can I make it in such a way that they are only deleted on my Phone, and NOT from iCloud as well? I have to fix this, because otherwise I’d have to delete photos from my iPhone to open up space, that I don’t really WANT to delete.. :( (I just want the thumbnails on my phone)

    And finally: what happens if I delete a photo from iCloud.com? Will it then disappear from ALL my devices, including my iPhone (that would be fine with me)?

    Reply
      • I did, and re-read the whole thing just now. But I don’t see anything in the FAQ that helps. I forgot to specify in my description of the issue what the previous advice I followed actually was: factory settings. Idid that, and that’s how I ended up where I am now: with that 1Gb photos on my phone instead of all thumbnails. And perhaps because I had to download rhumbnails from icloud now, the only place where the original versions still are, this happens now like I described: when I delete a photo on my iphone, its deleted from icloud as well. Which is a disaster. NOT deleting photos from my iphone right now is impossible: if I don’t delete photos, I can’t use my iphone because all actions I perform (like even opening apps) tell me I have 0kb left. Doesn’t work.

        Going to factory settings AGAIN won’t help either, since I already did exactly what is described in the faq I should do. And: it would delete the thumbs on my iPhone this time perhaps, which causes photos to delete from Icloud as well.

        What am i missing here..???

        Reply
        • Hi Kirsten,

          Did you restore a backup after completely erasing your phone? If so, then all photos and videos that were not part of iCloud Photo Library (and that are likely the culprit of your problem) got restored. You need to erase your phone without restoring a backup.

          Reply
      • I did, and re-read the whole thing just now. But I don’t see anything in the FAQ that helps. I forgot to specify in my description of the issue what the previous advice I followed actually was: factory settings. Idid that, and that’s how I ended up where I am now: with that 1Gb photos on my phone instead of all thumbnails. And perhaps because I had to download rhumbnails from icloud now, the only place where the original versions still are, this happens now like I described: when I delete a photo on my iphone, its deleted from icloud as well. Which is a disaster. NOT deleting photos from my iphone right now is impossible: if I don’t delete photos, I can’t use my iphone because all actions I perform (like even opening apps) tell me I have 0kb left. Doesn’t work.

        Going to factory settings AGAIN won’t help either, since I already did exactly what is described in the faq I should do. And: it would delete the thumbs on my iPhone this time perhaps, which causes photos to delete from Icloud as well.

        What am i missing here..???

        Reply
    • I recommend turning My Photo Stream off if you use iCloud Photo Library. I see no reason having both enabled unless you have devices that do not support iCloud Photo Library.

      Reply
  35. I have a similar problem. My pictures and videos all normally uploaded to icloud normally from my iphone and downloaded to my Mac normally but now the videos don’t automatically download where once they did. I have 200 Gb storage in the cloud which has only about 30Gb on it. I don’t have icloud library turned on on my Mac enabled as there is about 800Gb of pictures and videos that I don’t want all this in icloud, . Any thing you can think of?

    Reply
  36. If I upload my photos from my iOS devise will I lose my album groupings? I appreciate the actual photos are kept?

    Reply
  37. Hello,

    All my devices, two iPhone, iPad, MBP and Mac Pro are on my iCloud account and iCloud photo sharing is on. As far as I am aware, when I delete a photo on my Mac Pro, those photos should be deleted on every single one of my devices (or go to the deleted folder).

    However this is not the case. I deleted them on Mac Pro and emptied the deleted photos folder and all those deleted photos are available on my photo roll on every other device.

    So basically my most recent one is my Mac Pro. Now what should I do? Do you have an idea Why my iCloud Photo Library is not synchronized? What do I do?

    Reply
    • Hi Djem,

      Enabling iCloud Photo Sharing is not the same as iCloud Photo Library! In other words, enabling iCloud Photo Sharing will not keep your library synchronized across all devices.

      iCloud Photo Library: Automatically upload and store your entire library in iCloud to access photos and videos from all your Apple devices or on the web.

      iCloud Photo Sharing: Creates albums to share with other people, or subscribe to other people’s shared albums.

      Make sure your Mac Pro has indeed iCloud Photo Library enabled.

      Reply
  38. I have icloud photo library turned on both my ipad and iphone as well as optimize storage on both devices. I have the same number of pictures on the iphone, ipad and Icloud ~1200. However, on my ipad photos are taking up about 1 gig of space. Why??

    Reply
    • Hi Tony,

      Assuming that is indeed space used by iCloud Photo Library, and not by another app storing photos (i.e. Messages, WhatsApp…), every device (iOS, Mac) manages its own space. If you have plenty of storage space available, the device may keep more photos in their full resolution on the device. So don’t expect that every device uses the same amount of space for iCloud Photo Library.

      Reply
  39. I’m going to get an upgrade from my iPhone 6 with 64 GB and get an iphone 10 with 256 Gb and I just got a 32 GB iPad 2017 from my mom who never opened it. I have about 17,000 photos and 500 videos in my iCloud Photo Library. Right now my current iPhone 6 is on optimize photos. I don’t want to use that setting with my iphone 10. I want to always back up that new phone to iCloud, including all the photos but I want to keep all originals on the phone and delete some when I need space and also transfer photos I want to keep, and when I need space, to an external hard-drive, via my MacBook. So, will that still work? Where my iphone sill be all backed up on iCloud (i pay for the extra storage), including all the photos I will have in original form on my iphone? I figure this is my best plan, especially since my iPad will have only 32 Gb and my iphone will have 256 Gb. That way each device will hold different photos. Plus, i don’t like the having my photos on the optimize plan becasue it gets too difficult to transfer to hard drives for physical storage. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • I have 23k photos and videos in my iCloud Photo Library and it is way over 500 GB in size. So don’t expect your 256 GB iPhone to have sufficient storage to hold all originals.

      Reply
  40. Hi … if I delete from the icloud photo library ? We’ll it delete from the phone library?

    As i want to mange icloud libaray online… not phone memory….

    Thanks

    Reply
    • iCloud Photo Library, if enabled, keeps everything synchronized, including deletions. So yes, if you delete the image on any device with iCloud Photo Library enabled, it will delete the photo from all other devices as well (that have iCloud Photo Library enabled). If you don’t want that, do not enable iCloud Photo Library :)

      Reply
  41. Thank you for the reply. I take it that means there is no way of recovering photos after they have expired from the ‘recently deleted’?

    Reply
  42. I have accidentally deleted a number of photos from my device and had iCloud Photo Library enabled. I have back up’s on iCloud but any time I try and restore to a backup, it updates the photo library to the current time. Is there a way to restore to the camera roll on the backup?

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      The iOS backup does not contain images with iCloud Photo Library enabled, much like it doesn’t contain emails from your email accounts. Your best bet is to restore the images from the “Recently Deleted” album. That’s where iCloud moves deleted photos and videos before trashing them permanently.

      Reply
  43. Hallo Michael,

    ich hoffe, du kannst mir weiterhelfen.

    Two days ago I made the huge mistake of trying to transfer the pictures I had saved on my iPhone 7 to my Dell PC without first doing a backup and now all the most recent pictures are gone. They were there when I started transferring them and all of a sudden they disappeared.
    I did not make a back up in the cloud.
    They are not in the deleted folder in my iphone and when I was transferring them I make the second huge mistake of doing cut/paste. During the transfer I had an error and the phone disconnected.

    I feel very stupid because I did not research enough before transferring the pictures. Is there any way I can find them or are they lost forever?

    Reply
    • Hi Anna!

      That doesn’t sound good, but I would try the following:

      – Go to iCloud.com from your browser and confirm that your images are indeed gone. Maybe the deletions haven’t synched up yet (assuming you had iCloud Photo Library enabled)
      – On your Dell PC, search for JPEG images and see if the already transferred images are somewhere in a hidden folder.

      If those images are truly gone from both devices and you don’t have a backup of either – you may be out of luck.

      Good luck!

      Reply
  44. I have made edits to pictures on my iphone. However, the latest versions aren’t showing on icloud.com. icloud.com shows the latest update as current. Do you have to force pictures to re-download?

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda,

      If the latest edits are not showing on iCloud.com, chances are, the edits haven’t uploaded from your iPhone yet. I have yet this issue a few times already, where my iPhone decided to re-sync my entire library, which took a few days. I am not aware of any way to force a resync, assuming you already tried to restart your phone and keep it connected to a strong WLAN signal. You can also try to turn iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone off and back on.

      Reply
  45. I have ~50K photos in iCloud, full versions on Mac, optimized on iPad and iPhone.

    I noticed corrupt icons on my iPad (tall rather than wide) and while editing an image resets its icon, that would take too long.

    Turning iCloud Photos off should remove all photos, which I could then sync back down. Unfortunately, doing so left 38K of 50K photos on the iPad. It seems it’s because it’s set to optimize (the full library won’t fit on my iPad).

    It seems there’s no longer a way to delete all photos within iOS. Apple suggested I delete them manually, but drag-selecting 50K photos would take a long time.

    The best solution may be connecting with Image Capture on the Mac via USB. My concern is turning iCloud Photos back on may sync the deletions to the iCloud.

    So… if I turn iCloud Photo Library off on my iPad, delete all photos and videos on the iPad, then turn iCloud back on, how will my photos in iCloud be affected? Will they sync back down to my iPad as I’d hope or will it sync up and delete all of my photos?

    Thanks

    P.S. Another method may be to select-all then delete in each album, then delete whatever remains in the main library view.

    Reply
    • Hi Tim!

      If you delete photos after having turned iCloud Photo Library off, the deletion should not get synched up once you turn it back on. But to be on the safe side, I would make a copy of the full library on the iMac, which has the originals.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the quick response. It’s good to hear it from more than just a support person.

        I started down the path of using Image Capture and made some progress, but it’s very slow and it seems to drop connection when the iPad sleeps.

        I’m going to try select all in albums to batch delete large subsets, then drag select and delete the remaining in the main library. At least it won’t go to sleep in the middle of the process.

        Reply
  46. There is a problem with this new Photo method. Case in point. I take a photo with my iPhone. I want to keep the photo but not on my iPhone because I do not have that much memory on my iPhone. I send the photo to myself via email so I can put the photo into an album I had previously created on my iMac where there is plenty of memory left. Now, should I delete the photo on my iPhone it automatically deletes the photo from the album. Is there a way around this forced deletion from my album. In other words keeping the photo on my iMac in its album and still deleting the photo from my iPhone?

    Reply
    • Hi Capt. Arty!

      You may not have read my article carefully enough – you do not have to delete photos from your iPhone or try to manage storage. iOS does that for you. You just have to let iOS do its job.

      Reply
  47. Hi Michael,

    I have currently set up “Optimise iPhone Storage” while using iCloud Photo Library on my iPhone only.

    I want to import all my photos to my Mac with full resolution and original quality (to edit them in some tools by Adobe).

    1)
    If importing them via USB-Cable connected to my Mac, will then the lower res photo be imported to my Photos App on the Mac? If not, how is this technically done then? Will all the photos be downloaded in original quality to my phone first, and then imported to my computer? I would wonder, if this is done this way, because what would happen, if you dont have enough available space on your iPhone for temporarely store the full res photo on my iPhone?

    2)
    Would it be better to turn on “iCloud Photo Library” on Mac Photos with the option “Download Originals to this Mac”?

    2.1)
    Will the files be exactly the same as if directly importing Photos to my Mac with USB-Cable (not using any iCloud Photos with optimization)?

    Thanks for your help!
    Your answers are all appreciated

    Best Regards
    Spoogy

    Reply
  48. I am running out of iCloud storage and cannot afford to buy any more storage. Therefore I want to take the photos down from iCloud to an external hard drive and save them exclusively there. In this process, the photos shall be deleted from iCloud and all my Apple devices. Can you please help me in performing this trick?

    Reply
  49. Is there a way to select certain photos to not sync from your computer to your phone? I don’t want to have all of the pictures on my phone and can’t seem to find a workaround.

    Reply
    • Nope – you would have to create a separate Library (not an album) using the Photos app on your Mac to store those photos you don’t want in the cloud (and thus on all your other devices).

      Reply
  50. This is a constant annoyance. One of my devices is out of storage, the only installed apps are ones I need and use every day, and yet it keeps 6gb of pictures and constantly offloads the apps I need! Yes, optimize photos is on, but it doesn’t seem to do much. I can’t take new pictures since it’s out of storage. It should be offloading old photos.

    Reply
  51. I’m having an issue with storage on my ipad mini. It’s synced with my phone’s photos and now it says I have run out of storage space on my device. I optimized photos yet it did nothing to free up space, I then went to Settings>iCloud>Photos and turned off iCloud photo library. It still didn’t free up any space on my ipad mini. Do you have any other suggestions? I have my photos all backed up through google photos too. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Rita,

      To see what other apps are consuming storage, go to settings > general > iPhone storage and see what is taking up your storage. Once you know, you can delete what you don’t need anymore.

      Reply
      • I am having exactly Rita’s experience – the issue is the photo library on iPad did not get smaller when I turned off iCloud Library – the photo library is using over half the storage on the device – there is nothing else to delete.

        Reply
        • Hi Raina,

          Why do you expect your library to get smaller when you turn iCloud Photo Library off? Any photos that were downloaded to your iPad would remain on the iPad when you turn iCloud Photo Library off. If you want to remove those images permanently from your iPad, you would have to do that manually.

          Reply
  52. Hi,

    I am an idiot or retarded when it comes to this stuff. I read what you wrote but I am still so confused, I have no photos on my phone or in my iCloud to photo stream and yet it says I have 800 mb.

    Reply
  53. Hi since i recently want to save up space on my iphone i brought the extra icloud 50GB storage. now i cant understand how will that save space on my phone? like what do i have to to get the extra space in my device memory. currently m backing up again on icloud and dont know what will happen after that?

    i need to understand how this works…ur help will be highly appreciated..thanks!

    Reply
    • Buying more iCloud space doesn’t necessarily free up any on-device space, with the exception of photos and videos, if you enable iCloud Photo Library and “optimize iCloud storage” in the settings of your phone. With both enabled, iOS will remove photos and videos from your device and store them in iCloud if you run low on space.

      To see what other apps are consuming storage, go to settings > general > iPhone storage and see what is taking up your storage. Once you know, you can delete what you don’t need anymore

      Reply
  54. I just ran into this problem myself, mistakenly thinking that Icloud Photo Library was used more for storage than syncing. I wanted a place where I could upload photos from both my phone, my husband’s phone and my mac, then organized them. I also planned to delete photos on my phone and free up space, which I now understand won’t work. So as a work-around, my understanding is that I can disable icloud photo library from my phone and just connect it to my mac and upload the old way, then those photos will automatically sync with the cloud library. Is that right? Are there other down sides besides having to upload manually? Thanks.

    Reply
    • I would leave iCloud Photo Library enabled on your iOS devices because iOS manages the storage. You can still manually upload photos from other iCloud users into your library from a Mac or Windows PC.

      Reply
        • Correct, but you don’t really have to as they don’t consume space on your iPhone. Considering that you already have multiple Apple devices, I think iCloud is your best bet.

          Reply
      • I’m with Kathleen. I would rather download manually and delete photos/videos from my phone. I just bought a iPhone X and everything seems different. I want to download my photos/videos to the Photos app. Can’t do that anymore. Don’t like that. Don’t like that if I delete something from my phone it will automatically delete from iCloud Photo Library as well. What is the use of that. You should be able to download the old way and not go into iCloud Photo Library. I don’t need to keep 6,000 photo and hundreds of videos on my photo just because I’m afraid if I delete them they will get deleted from where I save them. Didn’t have to worry about that in the Photos app.

        Reply
        • Kim,

          Your requirements have a very simple solution: Disable iCloud Photo Library on your phone and Mac and you can continue doing it the old way. Nobody prevents you from doing that :)
          Of course, you won’t get the benefits of the automatic synchronization, but apparently, you don’t want that anyway.

          Reply
          • Michael, if I were to disable iCloud Photo Library prior to downloading my photos onto a flash drive, would I be left with full resolution versions of my photos? Or thumbnail versions?

          • Hi Michael,

            If I remember correctly, at least iOS asks you when you try to disable iCloud Photo Library, if you want to download all photos first. On macOS, I don’t recall if that is the case too. If you say no, or if macOS doesn’t ask you, you may not have the full-res versions of all your photos. So I’d recommend completely synching the library first to ensure all full-res images have been downloaded.

  55. My Iphone6 is completely out of storage because I wasn’t aware Icloud would synch ALL my photos on my Mac to the cloud AND my phone. I thought somehow I could turn this feature on and off. I am now at overload and can barely use my phone, nor even update it. I bought a passport with 1 TB storage. Can I export all my photos from my phone to the external drive and then delete from my phone and still keep my photos on my Mac and in Icloud? I’m beginning to hate apple products!

    Reply
    • Hi Becky,

      I think you may have misunderstood my article. If you set your iPhone to “optimize storage”, iOS will NOT download all your photos and use up all available storage. Just because you see thumbnails of your images in the Photos app doesn’t mean those photos are downloaded. And no, you cannot export all photos, delete them from your phone and expect them to still be in iCloud. To not do that was the whole point of my blog post :)

      Reply
      • I am having similar issue on iPad – I turned on iCloud library from my iMac and now the “optimized” versions are now taking 13gb of space on my iPad, my iPad is full and I can’t do anything. There is nothing to free up except apps I regularly use – I wish you could say “only store X GB of photos on device” or something. It really doesn’t work as advertised and is frustrating me and my kids that can’t use their apps.

        Reply
        • Hi Raina,

          Are you sure that space is occupied by images from your library and not from images of other apps? If those images are indeed from your library, then there is maybe something else wrong. I’d suggest turning iCloud Photo Library off, removing all remaining images and then turning it back on, so it can re-sync using the Optimized setting.

          Reply
          • Yes the photos app is taking up 13gb – it had been much smaller before I turned on iCloud library. I did turn off iCloud library and it said it was deleting 60k+ photos which I let it do but it seems to have left stubs behind for all this photos and videos that are still taking up the same space as the size used by the app has not gotten smaller. Is there a way to delete the photos without also deleting from photo stream and also not having to do one at a time?

      • Question: how do I add older photos to my iCloud? The photos are on a cd. I’d like to get them into my iCloud library and somehow categorize them according to the DATE they were taken.
        Most of the photos I take are on my iPhone and automatically saved to iCloud, however I don’t know how to import older photos from a cd Into My iCloud storage. It’s a Dell not a Mac. Thank you

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  56. I have photos on my IPhone 7, my mini iPad and on my pc with windows 10. All are connected to the I-Cloud. I have over 29,000 photos including many duplicates. When I have attempted to delete them, I.e I have manually eliminated thousands either via my Apple device or my PC, they eventually come back.they keep coming back. I have been told to eliminate them on my PC and some how Block my I-cloud photo library on my PC. Any help or ideas would be appreciated

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    • Hi Dan, assuming all of your devices have not only iCloud but also iCloud Photo Library enabled, disable it on all devices and reboot them. Then re-enable it on each device. Before you do that, you can also try to delete some photos on iCloud.com and see if they return too.

      Reply
  57. Why when i try to delete my photos there appeared “this photos will be deleted immediately”,but i want my photos in recently deleted not deleted permanently? Please help me

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    • Cindy: With iCloud Photo Library enabled, when you delete a photo from your library, you should get the following message: “This photo will be deleted from iCloud Photo Library on all your devices.” If you click on “Delete Photo” then, the photo will be moved to your “Recently Deleted” album.

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      • But the photos dont moved in my recently deleted, it deleted permanently. What must i do to keep my photos in recently deleted?:(

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        • There is no setting to enable this. My guess is you are not using iCloud Photo Library. So check if it is enabled under Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos > iCloud Photo Library.

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          • I check in setting and i already use icloud photo library, so what i do now? Thankyou for always answer me

          • Hi Cindy,

            I have never seen this issue before and don’t know what could be causing it. If you require on-device troubleshooting, I’d recommend going to an Apple Store. Alternatively, I also offer paid troubleshooting services. If you want to explore that option, please send me an email to [email protected].

            Cheers
            Michael

        • Cindy you are out of iCloud storage. Photos get deleted permantly when there is no storage left for them to go to. I would recommend backing up your phone and then deleting any old iCloud back ups. Or check with the Apple store if you aren’t sure how to do this yourself.

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          • Can you teach me how to delete the old backup without affecting all the data and photo on the current iphone?? I just wanted to clear my i cloud eithout affecting my devices and the backup again. How can i do that??

          • Hi Razieq,

            You can delete old iCloud backups under Settings > {ACCOUNT} > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups. Deleting backups from there won’t remove any data from your phone.

    • Hi Natasha,

      Maybe – If you currently have iCloud Photo Library enabled, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos and see if “Optimize iPhone Storage” or “Download and Keep Originals” is selected. In case of the latter, just make sure your photo library is fully updated and synched before disabling iCloud so you won’t lose any pictures. If “Optimize iCloud Storage” is selected, disabling iCloud will remove all photos that are not downloaded to your phone. Note that just because photos are removed from your phone, doesn’t mean you will permanently lose them – they are still in iCloud Photo Library, which you can access via iCloud.com from a browser on Windows/Mac.

      If you haven’t used iCloud Photo Library at all, then disabling iCloud won’t delete any photos.

      Reply
  58. A little more than a week ago, I turned on the Optimize Storage in the iphone 6S because I have so many photos. Much to my dismay, several (on the order of hundreds) of my photos are now missing from my device AND my icloud. I did not delete them nor can they be found in the recently deleted file. I am totally freaking out. One trend I have noticed is most of the missing photos were taking one of the iphone camera filters (e.g., b&w). If anyone has the same issue and knows how, IF possible, to fix it, I would be most grateful for the help.

    Reply
  59. Great comments!! I recently upgraded to the iPhoto Cloud Library. My main iPhoto library was over 100gb. It resides in my iMac. It took over a week for it to complete the upload. It went really well, no glitches. Before doing the upload, I made two separate backups and also a time machine back up. After checking that it all went well, I then upgraded my MacBook Pro, followed by my iOS devices. Flawless!! Needless to say, I had to buy extra iCloud storage space, but it is worth doing so. The memories stored in this pictures are priceless.

    Reply

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