iCloud Photos automatically keeps all of your photos and videos in sync across all of your Apple devices so you can access them from your Mac, iOS, Apple TV, or on the Web. Apple offers 5 GB for free, but you can upgrade to 50 GB, 200 GB, or 2 TB for a monthly fee.

It originally debuted on iOS 8.1 on 2014 and solved a key problem for users of Apple products. As the camera in the iPhone continued to improve, users struggle with how to make sure their photos and videos were backed up and available on all of their devices. Prior to its introduction, companies like Everpix and Loom filled in the gap. Since its original debut, Apple has added features like Memories, Collections, and Years. Users can also create shared albums to gather photos from vacations, parties, etc.

While Google Photos is a great alternative, but for people who are 100% in the Apple ecosystem, it remains the easiest way to sync photos (and edits to photos) across all of your devices. With Apple’s photo sharing and organization solutions, all of your photos and videos are backed up incase you loose or break your device.

iCloud Photos Stories August 31

iCloud Photos is probably one of the most impressive services that Apple is currently running. It’s built into every iOS, macOS, and tvOS device (and iCloud.com), and Apple has to be syncing billions and billions of photos and videos across its data centers. As good as iCloud Photos is, it still lacks a proper family sharing feature to help families unify their photo libraries. Another year of iOS announcements has come and gone, but yet we’re no closer to the ability for families to properly share their libraries – particularly among spouses.

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iCloud Photos Stories May 31

Bummed free unlimited storage is ending? Here’s how to export Google Photos to iCloud Photos

After launching in 2015 with free unlimited storage and marketing the service around that key feature, Google Photos has become a popular option even for Apple users. However, that’s changing as the company announced last fall that the free unlimited storage is ending on June 1. Read on for how to export Google Photos to iCloud Photos.

iCloud Photos Stories March 3

Apple’s new tool lets you transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos; here’s how it works

Ahead of tech companies being forced by lawmakers to offer greater data portability options in the US and elsewhere, Apple has been proactive and started offering a new option on its Data & Privacy website. Follow along for a look at how to directly transfer iCloud Photos to Google Photos and other supported services that should launch in the future.

iCloud Photos Stories February 8

Review: Photos Takeout lets you easily export your iCloud Photos to an external drive or NAS

I’ve been using iCloud Photos since the day it was released, and I love the service and have no plans of leaving it any time soon. I subscribed to Apple One Premier when the Apple One bundles were released, so I am all in on Apple’s services for the foreseeable future. With that being said, I am fanatical about backups of my photo library because it’s the one digital item I cannot repurchase if I lose a copy of it. If you’re looking for a way to export iCloud Photos, read on to learn about a great app that makes it happen with a few clicks.

iCloud Photos Stories November 14, 2020

Organizing, backing up, and enjoying digital photos is something I’ve cared deeply about for almost a decade. My oldest son was born in 2010, so he was at the perfect age when iPhone cameras started improving at a dramatic rate year over year. iCloud Photos and Google Photos are the most common solutions for photo management that people use today. What’s the best way to manage photos on iPhone, iPad, and Mac? When comparing Google Photos vs. iCloud, which solution is best?

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iCloud Photos Stories January 5, 2020

iCloud is a vital aspect of the Apple experience. When you get a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, signing into iCloud is one of the first steps. iCloud is now a crucial part of managing documents, photos, and videos as well. iCloud isn’t perfect, though. Last year, we saw the announcement and delay of iCloud folder sharing. This feature is something Google Drive and Dropbox have had for years. There are still random bugs with contact syncing if the person’s picture is too large. I’ve been thinking about how I want to see iCloud evolve, so I’ve come up with my iCloud 2020 wishlist. expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories December 8, 2019

A few weeks ago, I discussed how I wanted to see Apple build-out options to secure specific iCloud Drive folders with Face ID/PIN code unlocks for additional security. One of the folks who read the article had an excellent idea about iCloud Photos security that I wanted to expand on further. expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories November 17, 2019

I love iCloud Drive. I love how integrated it is into macOS and iOS, and I long ago moved most of my documents away from Dropbox (except for Shared Folders). I am always looking for new ways to back up my photos, though. Since I keep an active Microsoft Office subscription, I thought I would use the 1TB of storage as another place to upload my photos. When I was using the OneDrive app, I noticed it had a Personal Vault section that I thought would be a great addition to iCloud Drive for storing sensitive files. Microsoft announced it back in June, and it rolled out worldwide in October. As I started using the OneDrive iPhone app, I quickly began to wonder why Apple hasn’t created a secure iCloud Drive folder with Touch ID and Face ID support. expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories October 27, 2019

I’ve been obsessed with photo management and photo backup for years now. Before iCloud Photos, I used services like Everpix (RIP), Loom, and others. I’m all in on iCloud Photos, but I also let Google Photos and Amazon Photos upload my photos as well. My iCloud Photo library has grown to the place where I can no longer keep it all offline on my laptop (500GB) and still have room for other things. This situation makes my Time Machine and Backblaze backup useless for my photos since the majority of them are in iCloud. I’d love to see Apple or another company offer a way to backup iCloud Photo library. Since iCloud Photos is a syncing service, it’s not a real backup. Why isn’t iCloud Photo a backup of your photos? expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories September 8, 2019

I’ve had multiple Apple IDs over the years of being an Apple customer since I started buying music on iTunes in 2004. I eventually consolidated everything into two accounts back around the time I got my first iPod touch. I had one account for purchases (my Gmail account), and then I had my .Mac/MobileMe/iCloud account. Apple has always done a great job allowing you to keep a store account running alongside a data account on their devices. When I signed up for Apple Music in 2015, I took the time to set up Family Sharing with my wife and children. We had previously all shared an account, but with an Apple Music family subscription option at $14.99 per month, it was time to prepare for the future. I created a Family Sharing account, invited my wife as a parent, and then set up kid accounts for all my children. We then could each have our own Apple Music, iCloud data, but still access each other’s purchases. Apple really built a strong foundation for families to manage their data, have privacy, but also stay connected. And I think there is much work to do, and I hope that they add some much-needed Family Sharing additions in 2020 with future versions of iOS, macOS, and iCloud. expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories December 31, 2018

How to upload photos into iCloud Photos from iPhone, iPad, Mac, and icloud․com

iCloud Photos is a valuable feature built into iOS and macOS that allows you to save your photos and videos and keep them in sync across all of your Apple devices. Whether you just got a new device or want to start using the feature for the first time, follow along for how to upload photos into iCloud Photos from iPhone, iPad, Mac, and icloud․com.

iCloud Photos Stories September 23, 2018

I’ve written a lot about iCloud Photos at 9to5Mac. I think about managing my photo library more than I’d care to admit. I’m always thinking about additional back up measures I can put into place, or ways Apple could improve the service (be sure to check out my Google Photos vs. iCloud Photos roundup). iOS 12 is now on the market, so we know all the new features that are available this year. My mind is already turning to iOS 13, though. I hope it’s a big year for iCloud Photo Library. Here are the features I consider to be “low hanging fruit”.

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iCloud Photos Stories September 11, 2018

Mac: How to free up space with iCloud Photos optimized storage

Is your Mac running low on storage space? One way to easily free up room is by utilizing iCloud Photos and the optimize storage feature. Read on to see if this solution could be a good fit for you.

iCloud Photos Stories September 10, 2018

iPhone & iPad: How to free up space with iCloud Photos optimized storage

Are you running out of storage space on your iPhone or iPad? One way to easily free up room is by utilizing iCloud Photos and the optimize storage feature. Follow along to see if this is a good fit for you.

iCloud Photos Stories August 19, 2018

If there is one thing I am obsessed with when it comes to technology, it’s my pictures. I keep them extremely organized and culled. I am equally as fanatical about getting them backed up. When it comes to music, movies, and TV shows – I can rebuy anything I lose due to hard drive failure. When it comes to pictures of my family, no amount of money can recreate them if I lose them. Over the years, my strategy has evolved as services have changed. I’ll do my best to keep this article up to date as things change in the future.

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iCloud Photos Stories May 15, 2017

The various preferences in Photos for iCloud on iOS and macOS can be confusing to deal with. Let’s take a look at your choices when it comes to managing your photos and videos and what you should know about iCloud Photos.

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iCloud Photos Stories March 21, 2016

Apple TV tvOS 9.2

The fourth generation Apple TV has even been on the market for less than six months and there’s already a massive update ready for it. The new tvOS 9.2 software update is now available and includes several features that previously hadn’t made it from Apple TV 3 as well as features totally new to the platform.

You can now use Siri Remote to dictate text for search queries, usernames, and even passwords, and Bluetooth keyboards are once again supported for easier text entry. Apple TV apps can now be grouped into folders so you can keep games together, and iCloud Photo Library subscribers can view complete photo and video collections on the big screen. Here’s the full rundown on everything new in tvOS 9.2 for the new Apple TV:

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iCloud Photos Stories January 25, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.14.37 PMEarlier today, Apple rolled out the second beta of tvOS 9.2 for the fourth-generation Apple TV. The original beta included new features such as folder organization and Bluetooth keyboard support, but one highly requested new feature has been added today with the second beta. With tvOS 9.2 on Apple TV, users can now access their full iCloud Photo Library.

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iCloud Photos Stories January 15, 2016

iCloud Photo Library Photos Mac 16-9

I’ve been all in on iCloud Photo Library since Apple replaced iPhoto with the new Photos app on the Mac last year and I haven’t looked back since. I pay $2.99/month to sync my 13,206 photos and 1,087 videos (plus iOS device backups) with iCloud, and this allows me to take or save photos and videos from any device and have them appear across the others including the web, edits, albums, and all. I even have a system to help ensure to if something in the cloud gets hosed that everything will be fine at home (and if the house burns down hopefully the cloud is still there).

This also enables me to access my 155 GB photos library in the Photos apps on iPhones and iPads that otherwise couldn’t fit that much content. Thumbnail previews are available at all times, and full resolution versions download on the fly as needed. When you’re iPhone, iPad, or Mac needs more local storage, Photos can remove full-res images and downloaded videos to make more space using an optimize storage option. This works pretty well especially on higher capacity devices, but there’s one problem…

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iCloud Photos Stories December 15, 2015

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.

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iCloud Photos Stories December 11, 2015

Google Photos iOS

A few weeks ago Google unveiled a new space saver feature for its Photos app on Android, and this week the best feature 16GB iPhones and iPads could wish for is now available on iOS. Google Photos has also added Shared Albums across iOS, Android, and the web, which makes sending pictures and videos you capture to friends and family super easy. expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories December 7, 2015

Spoiler: I like these, but they're not my picks Spoiler: I like these, but they're not my picks
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Spoiler: I like these, but they're not my picks

Spoiler: I like these, but they’re not my picks

2015 proved to be a gigantic year for Apple in terms of shipping totally new products and seeing services go live for the first time. Apple Watch is a brand new category for the iPhone maker, the new Apple TV delivers on long-awaited update to the streaming box, and iPad Pro is every bit the giant tablet that was rumored for so long. My two absolute favorite new things from Apple this year, however, aren’t new hardware products but instead two services that have been criticized but have made a meaningful difference in my everyday life… expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories October 2, 2015

Live Photo Still Linked to this still iPhone 6s Plus photo are both motion and audio that further capture the moment
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Live Photo Still

Linked to this still iPhone 6s Plus photo are both motion and audio that further capture the moment

Live Photos aren’t perfect. The video shot in a Live Photo is a mediocre 12 frames per second, compared to the 30fps iPhones generally capture. Low-light photos are noticeably less vibrant when Live Photos are enabled. Shoot a Live Photo in the wrong orientation then rotate it, and you’ll revert back to a standard photo. Sharing Live Photos is fairly fragmented by Apple standards, even on Macs running the latest versions of OS X El Capitan. And it’s not easy to frame the perfect Live Photo; great ones tend to happen by chance, not technique.

But despite obvious day one omissions in the Live Photo experience, I’m honestly quite surprised at just how much I appreciate the new iPhone 6s/6s Plus feature. Using my iPhone 6s Plus for a full week now, my take on Live Photos has evolved from “curious but confused” to “I get it but when should I use it?” to wishing I had Live Photos years ago. Read on for how I believe Apple can improve the Live Photos experience and how the new iPhone 6s feature has changed my approach to shooting photos and videos… expand full story

iCloud Photos Stories June 4, 2015

Apple Watch Screenshot

Now that you have your Apple Watch, you might be curious to know how to take a screenshot from your your new device. The process is a little different from taking screenshots on an iPhone or iPad and the photos aren’t automatically saved to the watch, but you may want to screenshot fitness and activity achievements or show friends your customized Apple Watch face. In this how-to article I will quickly discuss how to take a screenshot on your Apple Watch and how you can make the process easier.

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