iCloud Photos: How to Use the Cloud to Upload Photos & Optimize iPhone Storage

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

One of the major benefits of iCloud is the iCloud Photo Library; all your photos and videos can be stored in the cloud rather than being tied to a particular device, making them available to you regardless of which device you're using. Any change you make to a photo or video on one device is carried over to the others. I love the security of knowing my iCloud photos are safe even if something were to happen to my iPhone, and how my iCloud allows me to free up space on my devices. If you enable iCloud Photo Library, you can choose to store only optimized versions of your photos and videos on your iPhone or iPad. The full-resolution versions are kept in the cloud. This feature can save you gigabytes of storage space on your iPhone, and any time you want, you can download the full-resolution version. Let's get started learning how to access iCloud and how to back up photos to iCloud, so you can keep all your memories safe and organized.

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Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

Related: How to Set Up iCloud Drive

To enable iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch you'll need to make sure your software is updated to iOS 10.1 or later. Next:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap on your name at the top of the page.

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  • Tap on iCloud. 
  • Tap on Photos.

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  • Toggle on iCloud Photos and, if you're connected to a Wi-Fi network, your device will immediately begin the process of uploading and storing your entire photo and video library.
  • If you'd like more storage space on your iPhone, click Optimize iPhone Storage; this setting lets iCloud Photo Library automaticaly manage the size of the photo library on your device.  

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  • If you decide you want to have the full versions of all photos and videos on your device, simply select Download and Keep Originals.

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Of course, storing your photos in iCloud may require you to pay for more iCloud storage space. The first 5 GB are free; you can upgrade to 50 GB for $0.99 per month, 200 GB for $2.99 per month, and 2 TB for $9.99 per month.

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Jim Karpen's picture

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.