What is iCloud Photo Library?
iCloud Photo Library is Apple’s cloud storage service for photos and videos. It allows you to store your photo library in iCloud and access it on all your devices that are signed in to the same iCloud account.
When you enable iCloud Photo Library, any new photos or videos you take on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac will be automatically uploaded and stored in iCloud. Your photos will be synced across all your devices, so you can access your entire photo library no matter which device you’re using .
iCloud Photo Library not only acts as storage for your photos and videos, but also serves as a backup. Even if you delete photos from your devices, the original copies will remain safely stored in iCloud as long as you have enough iCloud storage space available.
Enabling iCloud Photo Library
iCloud Photo Library is an optional feature that can be enabled in the Photos app. To enable iCloud Photo Library:
On iPhone or iPad:
- Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Photos (https://support.apple.com/en-us/108782)
- Toggle on iCloud Photo Library.
- Open the Photos app and select Photos > Preferences > iCloud (https://nektony.com/how-to/turn-on-icloud-photo-library)
- Select the option for iCloud Photo Library.
Once enabled, iCloud Photo Library will automatically upload new photos taken to iCloud so they are accessible on all devices signed into the same iCloud account. Existing photos on your devices can also be uploaded and synced.
Photo Storage Options
iCloud offers two main photo storage options – Optimize iPhone Storage and Download and Keep Originals. With Optimize iPhone Storage, your full resolution photos and videos are stored in iCloud while smaller versions are kept on your device to save space. This is the default option. When needed, the full resolution versions will temporarily download to your device. With Download and Keep Originals, your full resolution photos and videos are saved both in iCloud and on your device. This takes up more local storage but ensures you always have access to the original versions.
To choose your storage option, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos on your iPhone or iPad. Select either Optimize [device] Storage or Download and Keep Originals. On Mac, go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud > Manage. Under Photos, choose Optimize Mac Storage or Download Originals to this Mac.
For more storage details, see: https://support.apple.com/en-us/105061
Viewing Photos on iCloud.com
All photos you take on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac automatically upload and sync to iCloud.com when you have iCloud Photo Library enabled. You can then view your photos and videos from any web browser by going to iCloud.com and signing in with your Apple ID.
The iCloud Photos web app allows you to browse, search, zoom, and share any of your synced photos or videos. This makes your entire iCloud Photo Library accessible from any computer without needing to download the photos. The iCloud.com photos web app provides an easy way to view and access your photo library from anywhere.
Using iCloud Photo Sharing
With iCloud Photo Sharing, you can share albums of photos and videos with other people. iCloud creates shared albums that up to 100 people can view and contribute to.1
To share an album, open the Photos app and tap the Share button while viewing a photo or album. Choose which photos and videos you want to share, then tap iCloud Photo Sharing. Add the email addresses or names of people you want to share with. Those people will receive a notification to join the shared album.
Once an album is shared, everyone you invited can add their own photos and videos and leave comments on any of the photos. It’s a great way to collaborate on albums for things like trips, events, family memories, and more. You can also choose to make the album public and share a link to it.
So iCloud Photo Sharing allows you to easily give access of certain albums to other people, like your family and friends, and it lets everyone contribute photos, videos, and comments to it. This keeps your personal iCloud library private while still being able to selectively share albums.2
Finding Synced Photos on Your Devices
Once you enable iCloud Photo Library, all the photos and videos you take on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch can be accessed from any device where you are signed into iCloud with the same Apple ID. Here’s how to find your synced photos on each device:
On iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:
- Open the Photos app
- All photos and videos synced from iCloud Photo Library will be accessible in the Photos app on iOS devices
- Open the Photos app
- Click on Photos in the sidebar to view all synced photos
- Go to iCloud.com and sign in
- Click on Photos to view all synced photos
So as long as you are signed into the same iCloud account on all devices, you will have access to all synced photos and videos in the Photos app.
Recovering Deleted Photos
When you delete photos from iCloud Photo Library, they are moved to the Recently Deleted folder and stored for 30 days before being permanently deleted. You can recover photos from the Recently Deleted folder during this 30 day period.
To recover deleted photos on iCloud.com:
- Go to iCloud.com and open the Photos app
- Click on the “Recently Deleted” album in the sidebar
- Select the photos you want to recover
- Click “Recover” to move the photos back to your iCloud Photo Library
The number of days remaining until permanent deletion will be displayed below each photo in Recently Deleted. Once the 30 days have passed, the photos will no longer be recoverable. So make sure to recover any photos you want to save within this time period.
(Source: Apple Support)
If you find your iCloud storage space is full or running low, there are a few things you can do to manage your storage:
First, you can review your storage usage and see what’s taking up space in the Settings app. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage. This will show a breakdown of how much space your photos, documents, backups, and other data are using.
You can also turn on “Optimize Storage” for your device. This will automatically manage your storage by keeping full resolution photos and videos in iCloud while smaller resolution versions are kept on your device. To enable it, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos and toggle on Optimize iPhone Storage.
Deleting photos or other files from your device doesn’t automatically delete them from iCloud, so you’ll need to manually manage your iCloud storage as well. On your iPhone, you can swipe left on photos in your library and tap Delete to remove them from iCloud. On the iCloud website, go to Photos and click Delete on photos to remove them.
If you find you’re still running out of space, you can upgrade your iCloud storage plan for more capacity. Plans start at $0.99 per month for 50GB. Upgrading can prevent you from running out of room for photos, documents, backups, and other important data stored in iCloud.
For more details, check out Apple’s guide on managing your storage.
If you are having issues with iCloud Photos not syncing properly between your devices, here are some troubleshooting tips to try:
First, confirm that iCloud Photo Library is enabled on all of your devices. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Photos and make sure the option is toggled on. This allows your photos to be stored in iCloud and synced across devices.
Next, check that you have a stable internet connection on your devices. iCloud syncing requires an internet connection, so make sure your devices are connected to a reliable WiFi or cellular network.
It can also help to restart your devices to refresh connections. Power down your iPhone, iPad, or Mac completely and then turn them back on. This resets network connections and clears out any software glitches.
Be sure you are using the latest OS versions on your Apple devices for the best iCloud performance. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to check for and install any available updates.
Following these tips should help get iCloud Photos syncing normally again across your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and online at iCloud.com. If issues persist, you may need to contact Apple Support for further troubleshooting assistance.
iCloud Photo Library is a feature that allows you to store your photos and videos in the cloud so they are synced across all your devices. With iCloud Photo Library enabled, any photos or videos you take on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch will automatically be uploaded and available on your other devices.
To view your iCloud photos, you can go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID. You’ll see all your synced photos and videos there. You can also access them on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and other devices when you have iCloud Photo Library enabled.
Your storage plan and settings will determine how many photos can be stored in iCloud. You can manage your storage usage by optimizing your library to store fewer full resolution photos, or by upgrading to a larger storage plan.
If you ever have trouble accessing your photos or run into syncing issues, some troubleshooting steps include ensuring iCloud Photo Library is enabled, checking your internet connection, and making sure you have enough available iCloud storage. Overall, iCloud Photo Library provides a convenient way to store, access, and manage your photo library across Apple devices.