How to Delete Photos from iPhone but Not iCloud Photo Library (2023)

Want to know how to delete photos from iPhone but keep your iCloud backup photos? Here are four ways to stop iCloud from deleting photos from iCloud photo storage when you delete pictures on iPhone. 

Related: How to Upload Photos to iCloud & Optimize Photo Storage (Updated for iOS 15)

Can you delete pictures off iPhone and keep them on iCloud? Yes, you can! Here's how to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud. This is a bit tough, because if you sync photos to iCloud from your iPhone, whatever pictures are deleted on your iPhone are also deleted from your iCloud Photo Library. Still, there are ways to work around this issue. For more great iCloud photos tutorials, check out our free Tip of the Day. Now, let's get started learning four ways to delete photos off your iPhone, but not iCloud.

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Turn Off Photo Sharing

The easiest way to delete photos from an iPhone, but not iCloud, is to turn off iCloud photo sharing on your iPhone. The problem with this solution is that if you reconnect your iPhone to iCloud, your storage will update and delete everything you've deleted on your iPhone. Still, we'll start by learning how to turn off iCloud photo sharing.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    iphone settings app
  2. Tap the banner with your name in it at the top of the screen.

    tap the banner at the top of the page
  3. Tap iCloud.

    tap icloud
  4. Tap Photos.

    tap photos
  5. Toggle off iCloud Photos.

    toggle off icloud photos
  6. Tap Remove from iPhone to take all photos and videos off your iPhone and store them in iCloud.
  7. Tap Download Photos & Videos to keep this content on your phone and decide later what you want to delete. 

    keep photos and videos on phone or delete them

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Transfer Photos from iPhone to Computer (Mac or PC)

If you don't want to bother with turning iCloud Photos off and on, you can upload photos from your iPhone to the computer. Here's how to transfer photos from iPhone to the computer.

Transfer Photos from iPhone to External Hard Drive

Another workable (and portable) solution for storing photos safely off of your iPhone is an external hard drive. If you don't need lots of storage, a thumb drive or flash drive is another great option. Here's how to transfer photos from an iPhone to an external hard drive

Use a Third-Party Service to Back Up Photos

I'd recommend you transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer or external hard drive, but also choose a third-party cloud option like Google Photos, Dropbox, flickr, or OneDrive to store your pictures and videos safely in the cloud.

Now you know how to delete photos from your iPhone but keep them safely backed up on your iCloud photo library or another device or third-party service. Next, learn how to delete duplicate photos automatically using iOS 16.

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Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays has over a dozen years of experience writing for online publications. As a Feature Writer for iPhone Life, she has authored hundreds of how-to, Apple news, and gear review articles, as well as a comprehensive Photos App guide. Leanne holds degrees in education and science and loves troubleshooting and repair. This combination makes her a perfect fit as manager of our Ask an Expert service, which helps iPhone Life Insiders with Apple hardware and software issues.
In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.