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macrumors 603
Original poster
Jan 23, 2002
East Coast
My daughter had originally set up her iPod touch to use iCloud photos. What ended up happening is that all of her photos taken on the iPod were uploaded to iCloud. If she turned off the iCloud Photo option, the photos would be removed from her iPod. So she just left icloud Photo turned on.

Now, she has an iphone 6 that I restored from a backup of her iPod touch. She recently got a message saying she's running out of iCloud storage space, so I told her to turn of iCloud photos, which promptly removed most of the photos from her phone. Turning iCloud photo back on, put the photos back on her phone.

So here's what I would like to do for her.

1. Get all of her photos from her iCloud and put it on the iPhone.
2. Delete all of the photos from iCloud to give her more iCloud space.
3. Don't lose any photos from this opeation.

Apple's instructions on how to do this implies that if you delete photos from iCloud, they'll automatically get deleted from every device, regardless of whether you downloaded the photo to the device or not. This confuses me. Am I reading their page wrong?

Download iCloud photos and videos
With iCloud Photos, you can download a copy of your photos and videos on any device.

How to download content from the Photos app
On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 10.3 or later:
  1. Tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos.
  2. Select Download and Keep Originals.
On your Mac with OS X Yosemite 10.10.3 or later*:
  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Choose Photos > Preferences > iCloud > Download Originals to this Mac.
Remember, when you delete a photo from iCloud Photo, it deletes from iCloud and is no longer available on any device — even if you turned on Download and Keep Originals or Download Originals to this Mac. Choosing to download your originals also impacts your device storage, so you might want to learn more about how to manage your storage. You can also learn how to AirDrop your content to another device.


macrumors member
Mar 27, 2019
I am grappling with what comes down to the same issue (since the iPhone 6S was state of the Art..) & recently it only got worse since the 'My Photo Stream - 30 days of content on all devices..'-option got introduced.

The way it was supposed to work, was that you would
-on a device of your choice-
Select the option 'Download and Keep Originals'

> You keep those photos taken on that device*
*(I must say: I have not experienced that to actually work - yes, it was turned on..!)

& download all Photos from iCloud,

> You get all the content of your complete cloud library on the one device you chose.​

if one uses anything but the 5GB basic storage option, then one will most likely find it difficult to download the entire library (being subscribed to the 200GB storage plan, will at least in your case, render the workflow provided by Apple impossible, as that iPhone 6 only came with up to 128GB..) - the same will be true for most people who have an Macbook of some sort, because there in their most sold configurations were also equipped with 128/256GB of storage.

Assuming, what Apple tells us to do, would work..
> at the end of this process you would have the entire library on that device

-in the past, after turning off iCloud Photo Library-
There was a second trigger asking you 'Would you like to keep the images on this devices or delete them'

> That for some reason does not exist anymore..

After reading your post, I truly got even more curious again, because what you say - is what I read;
from following what they write on their official support page.. it seems like there is no option

(& to anyone thinking of typing a response that consists of the options they do mention there - please keep that *adding insult to injury* advice to yourself or join the countless individuals engaged in this type of trolling at Apple's support forum)

-especially, when reading what they write here-
The first sentence does seem fine,
> as one expects them to say in the next one what to do in order to keep photos offline.
What follows is then is
some unrelated comment about device storage management & AirDrop..


I would like to help you further with your situation, however that is the current state of what I can contribute -let's hope someone has an idea- From my point of view, something is seriously off here (that being true from all of the above & without going into detail about the true extent of what is wrong in my case..).


macrumors 68030
Sep 13, 2002
Bristol, UK
Some background first.

iCloud is primarily a syncing service to allow users to sync content across all of their devices, and to share that content in the cloud with other users that you permit.

iCloud in not primarily a cloud storage system, where you can leave files and documents in iCloud and delete them from your device.

As a Syncing service anything that you do to the files or photos in this case will be replicated to your other devices and the cloud. So if you delete a photo in the iCloud photos App or on any device connected to the iCloud service it will be deleted from all devices.

That having being said there is a subtle feature that Apple has included that allows users to minimise storage on Mobile devices. This is the option to Optimise Mac Storage in that a low resolution file is downloaded to your mobile device. In my case I have a 500GB Photo's library and I could not store the entire library on my phone. However this low resolution file is linked to the original so if you go to edit that file, then your device will download the full resolution image first.
Screenshot 2020-12-04 at 09.11.22.png

So if you are going to use iCloud Photos you need to ensure that the iCloud plan is going to cover you for your total consolidated Library size across all your devices that you want to manage with iCloud Photos.

To solve the OP's questions.

1. Get all of her photos from her iCloud and put it on the iPhone.
2. Delete all of the photos from iCloud to give her more iCloud space.
3. Don't lose any photos from this opeation.

Step 1 before you do anything make sure you have a backup of her iPhone. As her iCloud storage is maxed out you will need to backup to a computer, ideally a Mac.

Step 2 Go into Settings App on your iPhone, Scroll down to Photos and click to see the Photo's preferences


Turn on Download and Keep Originals and turn off Optimise iPhone Storage. Wait until all your Photos have been updated. Backup her iPhone again.

Step 3. Turn off iCloud Photos on the iPhone. Check that all your photos are still on your iPhone before going to the next step.

Step 4. Note this step will delete all photos in iCloud storage and will remove any photo's on any device still connected to iCloud Photos, but not your Daughters iPhone provided iCloud Photos has been turned off in Step 3. Log into your Settings on your her iPhone and at the top click iCloud then select manage storage. Click Photos then choose disable and delete.

Sorry just realised that @JhnsSch has bumped a really old thread, so I presume the original issue has been solved.
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