Over the weekend a good friend of mine shared a screenshot of a really scary error message from Photos for Mac. Every photo and video taken over the last two weeks failed to open, saying instead that ‘An error occurred while downloading a larger version of this video for editing.’ The solution? ‘Please try again later.’ and press OK. What’s worse is he was relying on the app’s Optimize Mac Storage setting to fit the library on his local storage and trusting iCloud not to screw things up along the way. And he didn’t have local copies backed up, a mistake he for obvious reasons regretted.
Stories like these aren’t rare, which is why my colleague Jeremy wrote earlier this year that “iCloud Photo Library still isn’t worth the hassles,” despite Apple lowering iCloud storage costs. But I still recommend Photos and iCloud Photo Library, new features that topped my “favorite new Apple things from 2015 that will last for years” list, just not with the default setup. As with any cloud service, the one major caveat is ensure you have a reliable local backup (followed by plenty of patience at the start).
While there’s no turning back data loss, I shared my personal Photos plus iCloud Photo Library setup with my friend, which he’s moving to now for a hopefully better experience. Below I’ll detail each step, which required a little research before I figured it all out, so you can hopefully have a positive experience with Photos and iCloud Photo Library as well.