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iCloud Photos, formerly known as iCloud Photo Library, is an Apple service that moves the user's entire photo and video library into the cloud. It's part of Apple's push to make it as easy as possible for users to switch among Mac and iOS devices throughout the day, making sure the user's photos are available on all of their devices and ensuring any changes get quickly synced across devices.

icloud_photos_mojave.jpg


Turning on iCloud Photo Library

- iOS: Open the Settings app and head to account section and tap on your iCloud account. In the "Apps Using iCloud" section, tap on Photos and you'll find a toggle for iCloud Photos. This option can also be accessed through the Photos app section of Settings.

- macOS: Open System Preferences and head to the iCloud pane. If you're logged in, you'll see a list of the various iCloud services. Hit the "Options..." button next to Photos, and you'll see a window where you can turn on iCloud Photos. You can also manage settings within the Preferences section of the new Photos app directly.

- Apple TV: On a fourth-generation Apple TV or Apple TV 4K, head to the Accounts section of Settings, then choose iCloud and turn on the iCloud Photos option.

- iCloud.com: Photos stored in iCloud Photo Library are also accessible through Apple's web-based iCloud.com service. Through the web interface, users can upload or download photos, browse via Moments and Albums view, print or email photos, and mark individual photos as favorites.

iCloud Photos Settings

The Photos apps for Mac and iOS are built to work with iCloud Photos, although users can opt to use local photo libraries on their devices if they prefer. Users opting for iCloud Photos have the choice of storing the original photos on their Mac or iOS device, which is ideal for offline access, or a more flexible optimized arrangement that stores originals locally if you have enough storage space but uses lower-resolution versions if local storage is tight and only downloads the full-resolution versions from iCloud as needed.

icloud_photos_settings.jpg
iCloud Photos settings on Mac (left) and iOS (right)

Similar settings are available on iOS, where users can choose between storing full-resolution photos right on their devices or saving some space by storing lower-resolution versions onboard and keeping the full-resolution versions in iCloud.

On iOS and macOS, users may also continue to see an option for My Photo Stream, which is Apple's separate service that allows users to automatically sync their last 30 days' worth of photos (up to 1,000 photos) between devices. Users who recently created their Apple IDs may not see the My Photo Stream option, as Apple is phasing out the feature.

On devices where iCloud Photos is active, there will no longer be a separate My Photo Stream album as there was prior to the rollout of iCloud Photos, as all photos are now included in the main library stored in iCloud. My Photo Stream doesn't count against your iCloud storage limits, but edits made to photos in My Photo Stream don't update across your devices.

The My Photo Stream setting does, however, offer some level of integration between devices where iCloud Photo Library is enabled and those where it is disabled. Turning on My Photo Stream on a device with iCloud Photo Library is enabled allows the device to import Photo Stream photos from other non-iCloud devices and also send new photos out to My Photo Stream for display on those devices.

Using iCloud Photos

Once you understand that iCloud Photos stores and syncs photos across devices, usage is very straightforward and it behaves very much like a local photo library stored on the user's machine. Users can freely manage, edit, and save their photos as they have always done, with the added bonus of that work automatically appearing wherever they have iCloud Photos enabled. The original photos always remain stored in iCloud, making it easy to revert any edits made on a device.


As with a local photo library, users can include photos from any source, making iCloud Photos more than the alternative Photo Streams of images taken on their devices. Photos and videos of a wide range of types from any source can be added to the user's library on one device, and they will sync to all other devices.

One important consideration when deciding whether or not to use iCloud Photos is that it is an all-or-none proposition on a given device unless the user chooses to use multiple photo libraries on macOS. With a single photo library, there is no option to sync only some photos while the remainder is stored only locally. For example, users can not opt to have only their iOS device photos synced to their Mac via iCloud Photos but not have their full library of photos in the Photos app for Mac synced to iCloud and the user's other devices unless they want to manage multiple libraries.

Photos are stored in iCloud Photos at their full resolutions and in their original formats. Common formats like HEIF, JPEG, RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF, HEVC, and MP4 are all supported, as are special formats captured on iOS devices like slo-mo, time-lapse, and Live Photos.

Pricing

iCloud Photos taps into a user's iCloud account storage, which is also used for iCloud Drive document storage, device backups, and more. iCloud users receive 5 GB of storage for free, but users who wish to back up their devices to iCloud frequently find they need more than that, and iCloud Photo Library will only increase the need for additional storage.

Apple offers several paid storage tiers for iCloud, priced on a monthly basis and ranging from 50 GB to 2 TB. The lowest paid plan at 50 GB costs $0.99/month in the U.S., with Apple also offering a 200 GB plan for $2.99/month and a 2 TB plan for $9.99/month. Even the high-end 2 TB plan may not be enough for some users who have a lot of photos, requiring them to either archive some photos outside of the service or simply opt to not use iCloud Photos at all.

If you fill up your iCloud storage allotment, new photos and videos will no longer be uploaded to iCloud, and libraries will no longer be synced across devices. In order to restore iCloud Photos functionality, users will need to either upgrade to a larger storage plan or reduce storage usage by manually deleting certain photos or other files from iCloud.

Turning Off iCloud Photos

So what if you've turned on iCloud Photos and later decide you don't want to use it anymore, either for a specific device or across all devices? On a specific device, iCloud Photos can be disabled the same way it was turned on, through the iCloud portion of the Settings app on iOS device or System Preferences or Photos preferences on a Mac. If you are currently storing optimized versions of your photos, your system will give you the opportunity to download the full-resolution photos from iCloud, at which point you will have a complete local photo library on your device.

icloud_photos_disable.jpg
Disabling iCloud Photos entirely in iCloud settings on Mac

If you prefer to turn off iCloud Photos entirely, you can head to the Manage Storage section of iCloud settings either in the Settings app on an iOS device or System Preferences on a Mac. In that section, you can choose to Disable and Delete iCloud Photo Library, after which point you will have 30 days to download your library to at least one device before it is removed entirely.

Wrap-up

iCloud Photos represents one of Apple's key efforts to streamline the experience of using multiple devices, many of which have been bundled under the "Continuity" umbrella. Many of these Continuity features tap into iCloud as a method for linking various devices, and iCloud Photos takes that one step further to ensure the users' photos are available regardless of which device they are currently on.

Article Link: iCloud Photos: What You Need to Know
 
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HvLee

macrumors member
Aug 6, 2014
42
8
The Netherlands
Great, it immediately starts uploading my existing (iPhoto) photo's to the cloud, and my iPhone starts syncing. So what is the use of the cloud if my 16GB iPhone tries to sync with the 20GB cloud that has now been filled up by the photo app? :eek:
 
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Sandstorm

macrumors 6502a
Sep 27, 2011
646
1,477
Riga, Latvia
One question - if Photos works fine and I never want to see the clunky iPhoto again, is it safe to delete both the iPhoto app and also the old iPhoto Library file?


UPDATE: unfortunately Photos does not work fine. :( Totally love the idea of Photos app, but in reality I'm now stuck in an endless "Preparing X items" and then "Updating", then also "Adding X tiems" and "Uploading X times" loops. Spent almost 1 day to uploading my ~220000 item library. All seemed to work but it suddenly froze at the very end - "Uploading 846 items". New photos I take with iPhone also don't show up. I did the option-cmd "repair library", but now I'm in those loops. Such disaster. :(

I understand it's currently in beta - I have full Time Machine backups and so on. But this is still very frustrating. Don't know what to do now... Do I really need to revert to backup, or wait for a software update... I'm confused. :(
 
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paolik

macrumors newbie
Oct 21, 2010
7
0
Not enough memory on iPhone

What happens if the size of the library is such that it cannot fit on my iPhone even with optimized mode on?
I mean... I'm ok to pay for extra iCloud space and upload my entire photo library from the Mac. However, there are no doubts that at some point the size of the library will be larger than what can be squeezed on my iPhone. What will be the behavior at that point?
I was really hoping for the new Photo application to let the user decide which part of the library to upload and which part to keep local on the Mac. Was that really too complicated!?!?
 
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HvLee

macrumors member
Aug 6, 2014
42
8
The Netherlands
What happens if the size of the library is such that it cannot fit on my iPhone even with optimized mode on?
I mean... I'm ok to pay for extra iCloud space and upload my entire photo library from the Mac. However, there are no doubts that at some point the size of the library will be larger than what can be squeezed on my iPhone. What will be the behavior at that point?

Exactly my point, I expect the cloud to save space on my devices, not fill them to the rim from my iMac/Book
 
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jmh600cbr

macrumors 6502a
Feb 14, 2012
969
2,102
These pieces are outrageous. I have 50 GB and am forced to buy 200 for 48 dollars a year

----------

One question - if Photos works fine and I never want to see the clunky iPhoto again, is it safe to delete both the iPhoto app and also the old iPhoto Library file?

Dido for aperture
 
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kristoffer4

macrumors 6502a
Jan 17, 2006
999
131
Denmark
What happens if the size of the library is such that it cannot fit on my iPhone even with optimized mode on?

I mean... I'm ok to pay for extra iCloud space and upload my entire photo library from the Mac. However, there are no doubts that at some point the size of the library will be larger than what can be squeezed on my iPhone. What will be the behavior at that point?

I was really hoping for the new Photo application to let the user decide which part of the library to upload and which part to keep local on the Mac. Was that really too complicated!?!?


This can't be right?
 
Comment

nutmac

macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
5,013
4,106
Great - apart from the price of storage....

Dropbox's sole 1TB plan costs $0.12 per GB per year.

Google Drive costs $0.24 per GB per year for 100GB plan and $0.12 per GB per year for 1TB to 30TB plans.

Apple's iCloud costs whopping $0.59 per GB per year for 20GB plan and $0.24 per GB per year for 200-1TB plan.

Apple does not necessarily have to become cheapest, but I would like to see some pricing innovation, such as flat $9.99 per year for each 64GB increment ($0.16 per GB per year) consumed beyond free storage, with ability to share storage with family members.
 
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paolik

macrumors newbie
Oct 21, 2010
7
0
This can't be right?

I totally agree. This would be a ridiculous failure! There must be some change coming in the new Photo app for Mac. Otherwise the only possibility will be to continue to use Photostream to sync from iOS devices to Mac... and remain with the misery of how videos are not handled.
 
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Yumbo

macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2011
324
62
Australia
Your article omits the most important requirement for it to work efficiently or not.

Wifi.

Sharing works via cellular.
Photostream doesn't, and neither does IPL.

Not a feature for those without WiFi.
 
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ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
3,939
2,501
Between the coasts
One question - if Photos works fine and I never want to see the clunky iPhoto again, is it safe to delete both the iPhoto app and also the old iPhoto Library file?

Not yet. It's still a beta, and there will be more versions before it goes Final. Never a good idea to burn your old bridge before the new one is open to traffic.
 
Comment

Folbo

macrumors newbie
Feb 26, 2008
10
21
Sharing (not streams or social notworking)

I must be missing the point ... I do not want to access so many photos anywhere ... But what I would like is to share all my photos and their tagging (faces etc) with my wife.

Is this possible? We both have separate Apple IDS separate documents and calendars etc. but we want just one photo collection that we can both add to from our respective phones, and both tag when we fel like it etc.
 
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NutFlush920

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2011
279
33
I just bought Dropbox Pro for $99/year. 1tb of storage and all my files and photos sync across all my devices which can be accessed anywhere I am.
 
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Yumbo

macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2011
324
62
Australia
I totally agree. This would be a ridiculous failure! There must be some change coming in the new Photo app for Mac. Otherwise the only possibility will be to continue to use Photostream to sync from iOS devices to Mac... and remain with the misery of how videos are not handled.

Sharing includes videos, do not expire and has a generous space allowance.

----------

I must be missing the point ... I do not want to access so many photos anywhere ... But what I would like is to share all my photos and their tagging (faces etc) with my wife.

Is this possible? We both have separate Apple IDS separate documents and calendars etc. but we want just one photo collection that we can both add to from our respective phones, and both tag when we fel like it etc.

Sharing is your solution.
Or Family Sharing where it is included.
 
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ghostface147

macrumors 68040
May 28, 2008
3,457
3,349
I don't like how if you enable iCloud photo library on your phone, it removes the camera roll. For someone like me who has a lot of photos, scrolling through the thousands of photos to get to my most recent ones.
 
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slicecom

macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2003
2,061
92
Toronto, Canada
Prices are ridiculous compared to competition. I turned photo syncing on, and it immediately filled up my 20GB and now my phone won't back up.
 
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iMcLovin

macrumors 68000
Feb 11, 2009
1,963
898
Well, since the topic says "all you need to know" I can't help but commenting on one major lack of feature in the new photos app.

Currently me and my wife share the same photos, since 90% of all photos we take are family related. But for this to work currently we have a single iPhoto library shared among us. Sadly apple doesn't let you share one iCloud plan among family. And therefor they won't support one photos library shared by a family.

I would like my family album (which is the big library) to include mine and my wife's pictures. And that would be my default library. And we could pay for a 200gb iCloud storage. Instead we both have 20gb and cannot share any data. The whole system just feels halfway complete. And it's an important feature mentioning.
 
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carrrrrlos

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2010
740
1,180
PNW
Pricing seem a bit on the high side, but a 1 TB cap? I realize that is a massive amount of storage, but why not just offer an unlimited plan.
 
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thekeyring

macrumors 68040
Jan 5, 2012
3,444
2,080
London
Is there a way of storing say - your last 3 events/albums in Icloud and having the rest on my Mac?

Older events that that I wouldn't want to access or manage from my phone, so local storage on my Mac would be ideal.
 
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KALLT

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2008
5,177
3,226
Cheapest among 3 major consumer cloud storage services is Dropbox. Its 2GB plan costs $0.06 per GB per year.

Google Drive costs $0.24 per GB per year for 100GB plan and $0.12 per GB per year for 1TB to 30TB plans.

Apple's iCloud costs whopping $0.59 per GB per year for 20GB plan and $0.24 per GB per year for 200-1TB plan.

Apple does not necessarily have to become cheapest, but I would like to see some pricing innovation, such as flat $9.99 per year for each 64GB increment ($0.16 per GB per year) consumed beyond free storage, with ability to share storage with family members.

Dropbox isn’t that cheap, assuming we are speaking about subscriptions. They only have a 1 TB plan and it would amount to ~$0.10–0.12 per GB per year, depending on your payment plan.

OneDrive is cheaper: ~$0.24/GB per year (100 GB) or ~$0.08/GB per year (1 TB), the latter even has an Office 365 subscription included.

Apple’s pricing is not remotely competitive.
 
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zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
6,457
10,515
Florida, USA
W
Currently me and my wife share the same photos, since 90% of all photos we take are family related. But for this to work currently we have a single iPhoto library shared among us. Sadly apple doesn't let you share one iCloud plan among family. And therefor they won't support one photos library shared by a family.

Just use iCloud Photo Sharing. You can share as many photos as you want between as many people as you want; you can give people permission to add their own photos to the shared albums, and best of all, the shared albums don't even count towards your iCloud storage limit, so this is basically free.
 
Comment

Yumbo

macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2011
324
62
Australia
Well, since the topic says "all you need to know" I can't help but commenting on one major lack of feature in the new photos app.

Currently me and my wife share the same photos, since 90% of all photos we take are family related. But for this to work currently we have a single iPhoto library shared among us. Sadly apple doesn't let you share one iCloud plan among family. And therefor they won't support one photos library shared by a family.

I would like my family album (which is the big library) to include mine and my wife's pictures. And that would be my default library. And we could pay for a 200gb iCloud storage. Instead we both have 20gb and cannot share any data. The whole system just feels halfway complete. And it's an important feature mentioning.

Have a look at Family Sharing.
 
Comment

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
3,939
2,501
Between the coasts
What happens if the size of the library is such that it cannot fit on my iPhone even with optimized mode on?
I mean... I'm ok to pay for extra iCloud space and upload my entire photo library from the Mac. However, there are no doubts that at some point the size of the library will be larger than what can be squeezed on my iPhone. What will be the behavior at that point?
I was really hoping for the new Photo application to let the user decide which part of the library to upload and which part to keep local on the Mac. Was that really too complicated!?!?

One lesser-known feature of iCloud documents (I can't speak for Photos quite yet) is that storage on your iOS devices is dynamically managed - if a document hasn't been accessed from the iOS device in a long time, it will automatically be removed if space is needed (the way RAM is managed on a Mac) - all you have on the iOS device at that point is document metadata (title, etc.). If/when you need to access it again, it'll be re-downloaded. Note that it's different on a Mac - every iCloud document is cached on your Mac - I guess the assumption is that you have the space, and that accessing documents while working offline/off the grid is more important to someone who's using a laptop.

I expect iCloud Photo Library will work similarly, if not identically: On iOS a thumbnail of everything, larger images of items that are actually opened and viewed. If available storage starts to dwindle, the higher-res versions of the least-frequently viewed items will be removed until they're called for again. On Mac, a complete cache of everything, at full resolution.
 
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