iCloud Photo Library

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.

Here's how it works

iCloud Photo Library automatically keeps every photo and video you take in iCloud, so you can access your library from any device, anytime you want. And any changes you make to your collection on one device, change on your other devices too. iCloud Photo Library even organizes your photos and videos into Moments, Collections, and Years. So you can quickly find the moment you're looking for everywhere you go. 

Your collection uploads to iCloud each time your device connects to WiFi and your battery is charged. Depending on your Internet speed, the time it takes for you to see your photos and videos on all of your devices and iCloud.com might vary.

Before you begin

  1. Update your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to the latest iOS, your Mac to the latest OS X, and your Apple TV (4th generation) to the latest tvOS.
  2. Set up iCloud on all of your devices.
  3. Make sure that you’re signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID on all of your devices that you want to use with iCloud Photo Library.
  4. If you have a Windows PC, update to Windows 7 or later and download iCloud for Windows.

Turn on iCloud Photo Library

  • On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 8.3 or later, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos, then turn on iCloud Photo Library.
  • On your Mac with OS X 10.10.3 or later, go to System Preferences > iCloud. Click Options next to Photos, then select iCloud Photo Library.
  • On Apple TV (4th generation) with tvOS 9.2 or later, go to Settings > Accounts > iCloud > iCloud Photo Library.
  • On your Windows PC, follow these steps.

See your edits on all of your devices

When you make edits in the Photos app on your iOS device or your Mac, the photo automatically updates across all of your devices. So when you crop or enhance a photo from your iPhone, you see the changes when you access your library from your Mac. If you change your mind and want to revert to the original view, it's no problem. The original photos and videos are stored in iCloud and you can go back to them at any time.

Even the photos and videos you delete on one device, delete everywhere that you use iCloud Photo Library. And if you want to get back a photo that you deleted, you can find it in the Recently Deleted album for up to 30 days.

You can only see your iCloud Photo Library photos and videos with Apple TV. You can't make photo or video edits.

File types that you can use with iCloud Photo Library

Your photos and videos are stored in iCloud exactly as you took them. All of your images are held in their original formats at full resolution — JPEG, RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and MP4, as well as special formats you capture with your iPhone, like slo-mo, time-lapse, 4K videos, and Live Photos.

Make sure that you have enough storage

The photos and videos that you keep in iCloud Photo Library use your iCloud storage and your device storage. And as long as you have enough space in iCloud and on your device, you can store as many photos and videos as you like. When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of free storage. If you use all of your iCloud storage, you can buy more starting at just $0.99 a month.

 

Save space on your device

iCloud Photo Library keeps all of your photos and videos in their original, high-resolution version. You can save space on your device when you turn on Optimize Storage.

On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap iCloud > Photos.
  3. Choose Optimize [device] Storage.

On your Mac:

  1. Open the Photos app and click Photos in the menu bar.
  2. Click Preferences.
  3. Go to the iCloud tab and choose a 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.

If you turn on Download Originals, iCloud Photo Library keeps your original, full-resolution photos and videos in iCloud and on your device.

Pause library uploads to iCloud

When you turn on iCloud Photo Library, the time it takes for your photos and videos to upload to iCloud depends on the size of your collection and your Internet speed. If you have a large collection of photos and videos, your upload might take more time than usual. You can see the status and pause the upload for one day.

On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Choose iCloud.
  3. Tap Photos.
     

On your Mac:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. In the menu bar, click Photos > Preferences.
  3. Click the iCloud tab.
     

Back up your photos and videos

When you turn on iCloud Photo Library, your photos and videos automatically upload to iCloud. They're not duplicated in your iCloud backup. But we always recommend that you keep back up copies of your library. You can download your photos and videos from iCloud.com to your computer and store them as a separate library, transfer them to another computer with Image Capture or Photos, or store them on a separate drive.

Learn more

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