Under Photos, press Select to turn off iCloud Photos. If you have Optimize Storage turned on, you might not have all of your original photos and videos on your device. To download the original photos and videos on your iOS device, go to Settings your name iCloud Photos and select Download. ICloud Drive. Safely store and access all your files in iCloud Drive. Share any folder or file with friends, family, and colleagues right from File Explorer. Save space on your PC by keeping your files in iCloud Drive only. Choose files and folders to keep locally on your PC to ensure you can access them even when offline iCloud. Connect to iCloud Photo Library by checking Photos → Preferences → iCloud → iCloud Photo Library and Download Originals to this Mac. Allow your Mac to download all your photos from iCloud. If your sidebar is hidden press ⌥ opt ⌘ cmd s to show it. From All Photos view (which includes hidden photos and videos), press ⌘ cmd a to select.
iCloud Photos uploads new photos and videos from your Windows PC so you can view them in the Photos app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac, and on iCloud.com. New photos that you take automatically download from iCloud Photos and you can choose to download your entire collection by year.
Here's what you need
Before you get started, you need to sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID. Just follow the set up instructions for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch or Mac. Then follow these steps to turn on iCloud Photos on your PC with Windows 7 or later.
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Learn more about iCloud system requirements.
Turn on iCloud Photos
- Download iCloud for Windows.
- Open iCloud for Windows.
- Next to Photos, click Options.
- Select iCloud Photos.
- Click Done, then click Apply.
- Turn on iCloud Photos on all of your Apple devices.
If you're using iCloud for Windows 10 or later, you can also choose to use Shared Albums, and customize the location of your Shared Albums folders.
If you're using iCloud for Windows 7, you can also choose to use My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing (Shared Albums), and customize the location of your upload and download folders.
When you turn on iCloud Photos on your PC in iCloud for Windows 7, My Photo Stream is turned off automatically. If you want to send new photos to your devices that don't use iCloud Photos, you can turn My Photo Stream back on.
Upload your photos and videos to iCloud Photos
You can upload your photos and videos from your PC to iCloud Photos when you follow these steps:
If you're using iCloud for Windows 10 or later:
- Open a File Explorer window.
- In the Navigation pane, click on iCloud Photos.
- In another window, open the folder where you currently store the photos that you want to add to iCloud Photos.
- Select the photos that you want to add.
- Drag them into the iCloud Photos folder.
If you're using iCloud for Windows 7:
- Open a File Explorer window.
- Under Quick Access (Favorites in Windows 7 and 8), click iCloud Photos.
- Click Upload photos and videos.
- Choose the photos and videos you want to upload and click Open.
You can view the photos and videos you uploaded in the Photos app on iCloud.com and on all your Apple devices.
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Download your photos and videos from iCloud Photos
New photos and videos you add to iCloud Photos will automatically download to your PC. You can also download your collection by year, in iCloud for Windows 10 or earlier, when you follow these steps:
- On your Windows computer, open File Explorer (Windows 8 or later) or Windows Explorer (Windows 7).
- Click iCloud Photos in the Navigation pane. If you don’t see iCloud Photos, click Pictures in the Navigation pane, then double-click iCloud Photos.
- If you're using iCloud for Windows 11.1, double-click a thumbnail to download the file.
- If you're using iCloud for Windows 10 or iCloud for Windows 7: New photos and videos you add to iCloud on another device are automatically downloaded to your PC. To download older photos and videos in iCloud for Windows 10, click the Notification area in the taskbar, then click Download Photos in the iCloud Photos notification. Choose the photos and videos you want to download by year.
- In iCloud for Windows 7, click “Download photos and videos” in the Windows Explorer toolbar. Choose the photos and videos you want to download by year, then click Download.
Your photos and videos download to the location you set in iCloud Photos Options.
In iCloud for Windows 10 or later, if a photo or video is changed on another device or on iCloud.com, it’s updated automatically on your PC. In iCloud for Windows version 7, you need to re-download the photos to see any updates.
If you need help managing and using iCloud Photos with your Windows PC, you can learn more.
Thank you LACAllen! Despite what Apple Support told me you are correct. Eventually the photos are copied from iCloud to your iOS device if the 'Download and Keep Originals' setting is on.
I contacted Apple Support and their response was that 'Download and Keep Originals' only applied to photos taken on the device. They maintained that this setting would cause the full-res version of the photo to stay on the device and be uploaded to iCloud. The support person I spoke to seemed very certain of this. This is not the case.
I have a fairly large Photo Library (~12,000 photos; about 70GB) that I finally converted from iPhoto to Photos. I tried the migration one year ago when Photos first came out on the Mac. I had so many problems I reverted back to iPhoto and continued to use iTunes to sync all my photos to my iPad and iPhone. However, the feature differences between the no-longer-updated iPhoto app the new Photos app on the Mac was beginning to be a problem.
After paying for the iCloud 200GB storage upgrade and uploading the pictures from my Mac into iCloud, I switched my iPad Photos settings over to iCloud and 'Download and Keep Originals' (Settings> iCloud> Photos> iCloud Photo Library). After about 12 hours I checked the iPad and every picture I randomly picked to view was still low-res (the high-res version would download when you opened the low-res version). I assumed that the full-res versions were not downloading. However, this morning I checked and found that the pictures were indeed almost done downloading!
I have since discovered a couple ways to check the progress of the downloads. One way is to go to Settings> iCloud> Photos. You may see an 'Uploading xxx Photos...' message when it is downloading:
The problem is iCloud seems to trickle the photos down and suspends the downloads periodically. Most of the time this message just says 'Last updated at ...'. I am sure Apple carefully throttles the downloads so their servers do not get overwhelmed.
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A more accurate way to see the progress of the downloads is to temporarily, and carefully, turn off the 'iCloud Photo Library' setting. The confirmation message that comes up shows you how many photos and/or videos have not be downloaded yet. In my case the number was down to 45. It was basically done (I started with ~12,000):
Of course, you need to be careful with this. Be sure to tap on Cancel! If you tap on 'Remove from iPad' the photos downloaded so far will be deleted from the iPad and you would need to start the downloads all over again.
I hope this helps others. I wrote this up because I could not find any accurate info and there seems to be a lot of questions and confusion about it. I will update this with additional information if anything changes.