How to Set up and Use iCloud Photos on an iPhone, PC, or Mac

iCloud Photos is a feature available to all Apple users that allows them to store and access their photos and videos on any device or the web, including Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPod touches and even Apple TVs. If you take a photo on one device, you can immediately view and share it on other compatible devices.

The feature also allows you to save space on your device by optimizing photos for size without compromising quality. This optimization is done through machine learning so that the most important parts of a photo are kept while the rest is compressed.

Your photos and videos are organized in different categories like Years, Months, Days, and All Photos. The formats iCloud supports are HEIF, RAW, PNG, GIFF, TIFF, HEVC, JPEG, MP4 and even all the files like time-lapse, 4K videos, Live Photos, and slo-mo.

Additionally, you can store an unlimited number of photos in iCloud Photos for free with 5 GB of storage space for other types of files such as documents and music.

How to Turn on iCloud Photos


Turning on iCloud Photos is a great way to keep your photos and videos organized across all of your Apple devices.

On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch you can access iCloud Photos by going to the Settings app and selecting “iCloud.” Once there, tap on “Photos” and toggle the switch next to “Sync this” This will enable you to store photos and videos from this device in iCloud.

You can also choose to share these photos with other Apple devices that are connected to your account.

This way, any changes you make in one device will be reflected across all connected devices for easy viewing and editing.

On your Mac

On your Mac, you can easily access and manage your iCloud Photos.

Begin by opening the System Preferences window and selecting “Apple ID.” Next, click on the “iCloud” tab in the sidebar and select “Photos.” You can turn on the switch next to “Sync this Mac” to sync photos and videos stored on this device with other Apple devices connected to your account.

On Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD

With Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, you can easily access and manage your iCloud Photos. You can go to Setting and choose “Users and Accounts”.

After that, you select “iCloud” and choose to turn on iCloud Photos.

After enabling the feature, you can access the Photos app on your Apple TV. This allows you to easily view and edit all the photos from your connected devices.

You can also use AirPlay to mirror content from another device such as an iPhone or iPad directly onto your television screen.

What happens when you edit or delete photos on one device?

When you edit or delete photos, the same changes are reflected across all of your devices that are connected to iCloud. This ensures that you always have the most up-to-date version of your images available no matter what device you’re using.

You can make edits and deletions on any device, and they will be instantly mirrored across all other devices. This makes it easy to keep your photo library organized and up-to-date without having to worry about manually transferring files.

This means that you don’t have to worry about manually transferring files—everything is taken care of for you. In addition, any albums you create in Photos will also sync across all of your devices, so everyone has access to the same content.

If you delete something and want to recover it, you can recover the file in the Recently Deleted folder within 30 days. You will not be able to recover any deleted files after 30 days, so please be careful when deleting a file.

Download copies of your photos and videos

With iCloud, you can easily download copies of your photos and videos to your Mac or PC—all it takes is a few simple steps!

First, open the Photos app on your device and select the photos or videos you want to download. Then, click the Share button and choose Download. You can then save the files to the folder of your choice. Once downloaded, they will remain available even if you delete them from iCloud.

In addition to downloading individual photos or videos, you can also download your entire library at once. To do this, open Finder on Mac or File Explorer on Windows 10, then locate iCloud Drive in the sidebar.

This will create a copy of all of your images saved in iCloud onto your computer—a great way to keep an extra backup of all of your memories!

Make sure that you have enough storage for your iCloud

It’s important to make sure that you have enough storage space for all of your photos and videos. If you’re using iCloud, check your iCloud storage regularly to see how much space you have left. You can also use the Optimize Storage feature in Settings to help free up space on your device.

If you don’t want any of your photos or videos deleted, then consider upgrading your iCloud storage plan or purchasing additional device storage if needed.

If you find yourself running out of space on your iCloud account, there are several ways to upgrade your storage. The most straightforward way is to purchase a storage plan from Apple. Depending on the size of your plan, you can get up to 2TB of additional storage.

It’s also a good idea to regularly back up all of your photos and videos onto an external hard drive just in case anything happens to them.

Save Storage Space on Your Device

Because iCloud often stores all the files in their best quality and resolution, so sometimes if you need to save storage space, you can use “Optimize Storage”.

This feature is different with “Download Originals” where iCloud Photos always keeps the best quality of your files.

How to Pause Your Library Uploads to iCloud

If you have a large collection of photos and videos that needs to be uploaded to iCloud, you may want to consider pausing your library uploads. Pausing your library uploads will give you the flexibility to manage your storage space without having to delete any of your memories.

To pause your library uploads on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, open the Photos app and go to the Library tab. Scroll down and click the Pause button at the bottom of the screen. This will pause all current library uploads for one day.

On a Mac, open up the Photos app and click on the Photos tab in the menu bar. Select Preferences and then select iCloud in the sidebar. Here you can uncheck “iCloud Photos” which will pause all current library uploads for one day.

Pausing your library uploads can help free up some storage space on your device while still keeping all of your important memories safe in iCloud.

iCloud Pricing

icloud pricing
icloud pricing

Pricing for iCloud Photos is based largely on an individual user’s needs when it comes to storage space.

With the lowest tier starting at just $0.99 a month for 50GB of storage, iCloud provides users with a convenient and relatively low-cost way to back up their devices and store photos via the cloud. For those who need more space, Apple lets users upgrade to 200 GB for $2.99/month or even 2TB for $9.99/month.

The prices can vary a bit in different countries, so make sure that you check the prices in the place you are living.

However, as photo libraries continue to grow in size, these higher-end plans still may not be enough for some users – forcing them to either archive some of their photos outside of iCloud Photos or find alternative methods of backing up their photos and videos elsewhere.

If you choose to fill up your iCloud storage allotment beyond the limit you have purchased, new photos will no longer be uploaded, and your libraries will cease syncing across devices.

Troubleshooting common problems with iCloud Photos

Here are some general troubleshooting steps for addressing common problems with iCloud Photos:

Check your internet connection: One of the most common issues with iCloud Photos is syncing problems, which can be caused by a weak or unstable internet connection. Make sure you have a stable and reliable internet connection, preferably connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Restart your router or toggle Wi-Fi off and on to see if that resolves the issue.

Update your devices and software: Ensure that all of your Apple devices, including your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac, are running the latest version of iOS or macOS. Outdated software can sometimes cause compatibility issues with iCloud Photos. Go to Settings > General > Software Update on your iOS device, or click on the Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update on your Mac, to check for and install any available updates.

Check iCloud storage: If you’re experiencing syncing issues or missing photos, it’s possible that you have reached your iCloud storage limit. Check your iCloud storage settings to ensure you have enough available space. If needed, consider upgrading your iCloud storage plan or freeing up space by deleting unnecessary photos, videos, or other files.

Toggle iCloud Photos off and on: If you’re experiencing problems with iCloud Photos, a simple solution is to turn off iCloud Photos and then turn it back on. This can help refresh the syncing process and resolve any temporary issues. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos on your iOS device, or open the Photos app on your Mac, go to Photos > Preferences > iCloud, and uncheck “iCloud Photos.” Wait a few moments and then re-enable iCloud Photos.

If these general troubleshooting steps do not resolve your issue, it may be helpful to consult official Apple support resources or forums for more specific advice based on your particular problem.

The ability to create shared albums

When using iCloud Photos, you have the ability to create shared albums. Shared albums allow you to easily share your photos and videos with specific people, who can then view, like, comment on, and even add their own content to the album.

To create a shared album with iCloud Photos, the process may vary slightly depending on the device you are using. Here is a general overview of how to create a shared album:

  1. On iPhone/iPad: Open the Photos app and go to the “Albums” tab. Tap on the “+” icon to create a new album and give it a name. Next, tap on the album to open it, then tap on the “People” tab at the bottom. Tap on the “Add People” option and select the contacts you want to invite. Finally, tap on “Create” to create the shared album.
  2. On Mac: Open the Photos app and go to the “Albums” tab. Click on the “+” icon to create a new album and name it. Then, click on the album to open it, and click on the “People” tab at the top. Click on the “Add People” option and select the contacts you wish to invite. Click on “Create” to create the shared album.

Once the shared album is created, the invited participants will receive a notification and can start accessing and interacting with the shared content. They can view, like, comment, and even add their own photos and videos to the shared album, making it a collaborative experience.

Creating shared albums with iCloud Photos provides a convenient way to share and collaborate on photo collections with friends, family, or colleagues.

The integration with other Apple services

iCloud Photos integrates seamlessly with other Apple services, including iCloud Drive, Messages, and shared albums.

First, iCloud Photos works alongside iCloud Drive, allowing you to easily access and manage your photo library across all your devices. Any photos uploaded to iCloud Photos will automatically appear in your iCloud Drive. Additionally, you can store photos and videos in your iCloud Drive and access them directly from the Photos app.

Second, iCloud Photos integrates with Messages, allowing you to share photos and videos directly from the app. You can quickly and easily share photos or videos with friends and family through Messages and have the option to automatically sync those images across all of your devices.

Third, iCloud Photos lets you create shared albums, which you can share with anyone through a public or private link. Shared albums are great for collaborating with family and friends on photo collections or sharing pictures of a particular event. Any images added to a shared album will automatically be available to everyone invited to the album.

Overall, iCloud Photos integration with other Apple services provides a seamless experience for managing, storing and sharing photos and videos.

iCloud Photos on non-Apple devices

Although iCloud Photos is primarily designed for use with Apple devices, you can still access and use iCloud Photos on non-Apple devices, such as Windows computers or Android devices. Here’s how:

  1. Accessing iCloud Photos on a Windows PC:
    • Download and install iCloud for Windows from the official Apple website.
    • Launch iCloud for Windows, sign in with your Apple ID, and select the Photos option.
    • Choose the iCloud Photos option and select the folders you want to sync with your PC.
    • Click on “Apply” to start syncing your iCloud Photos to your Windows PC. You can access them through File Explorer in the iCloud Photos folder.
  2. Accessing iCloud Photos on an Android device:
    • Install the iCloud app from the Google Play Store on your Android device.
    • Open the app and sign in with your Apple ID.
    • Once signed in, you’ll be able to access and view your iCloud Photos directly from the app on your Android device.

While using iCloud Photos on non-Apple devices, please note that the features and functionalities offered may be limited compared to using Apple devices. For full access to all iCloud Photos features, it is recommended to use an Apple device.

Please keep in mind that these instructions may change over time as Apple updates its services and apps. To stay up to date, it’s always advisable to consult official Apple support resources or visit the Apple website for the most accurate and current information.

Can I Turn Off iCloud Photos on a Single Device?

Yes, you can turn off iCloud Photos on a single device if you wish to stop syncing your photos to iCloud. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. On an iPhone or iPad:
    • Go to the Settings app and tap on your Apple ID at the top of the screen.
    • Tap on “iCloud” and then “Photos.”
    • Toggle off the switch for “iCloud Photos” to disable the syncing of your photos to iCloud on that specific device.
  2. On a Mac:
    • Click on the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select “System Preferences.”
    • Click on “Apple ID” and then choose “iCloud.”
    • Uncheck the box for “Photos” to stop syncing your photos to iCloud on that particular Mac.

By turning off iCloud Photos on a single device, you will disable the synchronization of photos between that specific device and your iCloud photo library. However, please note that this action does not delete any existing photos already stored in iCloud. It simply stops new photos from being added to your iCloud photo library from that device.

Remember that if you turn off iCloud Photos on a device, the photos on that device will no longer be backed up to iCloud. It’s important to have alternative backup methods in place to ensure the safety of your photos.