Photo's settings - iCloud - "Download" or "Optimise"

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by dealmaker, Apr 11, 2015.

  1. dealmaker macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2010
    So the Photo's app is starting to churn though my 160Gb photo library - (which will be fun on my 1mbs connection)

    Anyway I have a quick question please as the App isn't clear.

    Under "Preferences" - the "iCloud" tab on the first page.

    You have a choice to select one of two settings.

    1) Download Original to this Mac


    2) Optimize Mac Storage

    I'm a bit confused - I don't want to loose any of my original resolution photos.

    If I choose the first option "Download Original to this Mac" - then I assume the version that is kept in the iCloud library is a compressed version of the original - and the original big-resolution photo is kept on my Mac.

    If I choose the second option - Optimize Mac Storage - it says it keeps an original high resolution version of the photo in the iCloud library - and also an original version will be kept on your mac - assuming there is sufficient room.

    Now I do have plenty of room on my Mac - but the real attraction for me is to use the iCloud backup as a way of keeping my library safe in case of hard drive failure - or even theft.....

    So for me - should I choose the second option - and assume this will take a lot longer to upload as its effectively copying my entire photo library in its full resolution to the iCloud photos account?...and so my iCloud drive will suddenly have another 160GB in it??

    And if I use this second option does that mean - every time I take photos on my camera and put them on my Mac - they will automatically be also uploaded to iCloud in their full resolution - and will also stay on my Mac in full resolution??

    Thanks for any thoughts or advice.
  2. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68040

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    For your needs, yes, the second option. However, choosing the first option would not have affected your upload speed - full-resolution images are always uploaded to iCloud (whether from Mac or from iOS devices), regardless of these settings.

    This pair of settings has two primary purposes: 1) To reduce storage usage on Macs that have limited storage space (128 GB MacBook Airs, for example).
    2) Allow off-grid access to full resolution images from your Mac

    Per Photos Help (emphasis added):
    FWIW, you have the equivalent options on iOS devices.

    All of this specifically refers to the "System Photo Library" on your Mac. You can have multiple Photos libraries on your Mac (hold the Option key when opening Photos to select the library you'll be using), but only one, the one you designate in Photos Preferences as the System Photo Library, will be synced with iCloud.

    In all cases, a key concept for iCloud Photo Library is that iCloud maintains the "real" library. Whatever you have on your iOS devices and computers will always be derived from/synced with the cloud. Whatever you do in terms of editing, deletion, album creation, etc. on one device will be reflected on every other device. In my opinion, it's more fruitful to think of the images stored on your Mac as the "backup."

    "All your photos, everywhere" means just that. A key 'gotcha' to this is that, if you delete a photo anywhere, it is deleted everywhere else (that's why there's a Deleted Photos album - you have 30 days to recover from a mistake).

    On both iOS and Mac, the Photos app and iCloud Photo Library are "aware" of the amount of storage space you have remaining on the computer/device. If space is low, it will start deleting the larger-sized versions of images from the iPhone or Mac, leaving only thumbnails (the least-frequently-viewed images go first). The larger-sized version of the image will be downloaded automatically if/when you choose to view them.
  3. dealmaker thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2010
    Thank you for the tremendously useful and comprehensive response! Appreciated!
  4. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Yes, thanks for that. I learned more in your post about how Photo's manages content than in all of the threads I have been tracking. Very good!
  5. vjaaan macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2010
    I have a slightly different question. Suppose I don't want access to the full Photos Library that I have on my MacBook Pro on my smaller devices, like my iPhone and iPad Air. Even optimized, I don't want all those pictures downloaded to those devices. I do, however, want any photos I take on them to go out to the cloud (photo stream or whatever) to my main Photos Library gets them. I just don't want anything new coming back to take up any space on my phone.

    Is there a reliable setting to make this occur?

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4 April 11, 2015