How to Download Photos from iCloud & Upload Photos to iCloud—the Easy Way

Mentioning iCloud is the quickest way to confuse people. I know plenty of people who won’t try to use iCloud services because the idea of it boggles their mind. But once you’ve set it up, you can seamlessly use it to upload photos to iCloud automatically, be able to access iCloud photos on your PC or Mac, and easily download your iCloud photos. We’re going to cover everything you need to know about photos and iCloud. We’ll start with how to upload photos to iCloud, which is also how to set up iCloud for storing photos. Then we’ll go over how to access iCloud photos on iPhone, PC, and a Mac. Lastly, I’ll show you how to download photos from iCloud. I’m going to avoid all unnecessary information here so that I can show you the easiest way to manage your photos with iCloud. Here’s how to upload photos to iCloud from iPhone, as well as how to download those photos from iCloud.

Related: Top Tips for Understanding and Using iCloud

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When you have iCloud Photo Library turned on, every photo you take on your iPhone will upload to iCloud. If you’re connected to the internet (via Wi-Fi or cellular), it will do so automatically. If not, it will sync once you’re connected. Having your photos in iCloud also allows you to access your photos from any computer, PC or Mac, with an internet connection. Which means you can easily download your iCloud photos to any PC or Mac.

If, on the other hand, you’re wondering how to download photos from iCloud to your iPhone, that’s even easier because all you need to do is login to iCloud on iPhone and turn on iCloud Photo Library. Having iCloud Photo Library enabled means that all of your devices (and iCloud) will have synced photos. So if you delete a photo from your iPhone, it will be deleted from iCloud and vice versa.

It’s good to note that your iPhone comes with 5 GB of free iCloud storage. I pay a dollar a month to get 50 GB of storage. You can also get 200 GB for $2.99 a month or 2 terabytes for $9.99. And you can share iCloud storage plans with anyone who is part of your iCloud family if you have Family Sharing enabled.

How to Upload Photos to iCloud from iPhone & How to Download Photos from iCloud to iPhone

Funnily enough, uploading photos to iCloud from  aniPhone and downloading photos from iCloud to an iPhone is done in the exact same way: you have to log in to iCloud on your iPhone and turn on iCloud Photo Library. With iCloud Photo Library turned on, your photos will automatically upload to iCloud. Likewise, when you log in to iCloud on your iPhone and turn on iCloud Photo Library, the photos you already had stored in iCloud will sync to your iPhone.

So, in order to both automatically upload photos to iCloud and get your photos from iCloud (download them) to iPhone, this is what you need to do:

  • On your iPhone, open the Settings app.
  • If you aren't already logged in to your Apple ID/iCloud account, you’ll need to tap Sign in to your [device]. Then enter your Apple ID email and password.
  • If you are already signed in to your Apple ID/iCloud account, tap your name at the top.
  • Select iCloud.
  • Tap Photos.

  • Toggle on iCloud Photo Library.
  • Your iPhone will then take some time to both upload the photos on your device to iCloud and download the photos from iCloud to your iPhone.

  • Once it’s done, select whether you want your iPhone to Optimize iPhone Storage or Download and Keep Originals of all your photos on your iPhone.

That’s it! From now on, when you take a photo on your iPhone, it will automatically upload to the cloud and be saved in iCloud. If you want to download those photos to your PC or Mac computer, keep reading.

How to Access iCloud Photos

You can see and access your iCloud photos online from any computer with an internet connection. The only information you’ll need to do so is your Apple ID/iCloud login email and password.

  • In a browser on a computer, visit icloud.com.
  • Use your Apple ID and password to log in.

  • Click Photos.
  • That’s it! Here you can see and access all of the photos in your iCloud Photo Library.  

If you want to upload photos to iCloud from your Mac or PC the next tip will show you how. Then we’ll go over how to download photos from iCloud to your Mac or PC computer.

How to Upload Photos to iCloud from Mac or PC

  • First, follow the steps above (How to Access iCloud Photos) to access your iCloud Photo Library.
  • From here, select the cloud with an up arrow in the upper right corner.
  • Select the photo or photos you want to upload from your computer. Click Open.

  • Under Albums, select All Photos.
  • The photo(s) you just added will be at the end—just like how new photos appears at the bottom on your iPhone in the Photos app.

  • Speaking of which, once you’ve added the photo to your iCloud Photo Library, you can look at All Photos on your iPhone and see the new photo(s) you added.

It’s good to note that iCloud Photo Library will not add duplicate images. Otherwise, that’s all there is to it! All that’s left is how to download photos from iCloud to your Mac or PC computer.

How to Download Photos from iCloud to Mac or PC

  • First, follow the steps above (How to Access iCloud Photos) to access your iCloud Photo Library.
  • Select the photo you want to download by clicking on it.
  • Tap the cloud icon with a down arrow in the upper right corner.

  • Choose where on your computer you want to save the photo and click Save.

Unfortunately, iCloud no longer allows you to multi-select photos and download multiple images at a time. I don’t know why Apple stopped allowing users to do this, and I’m not happy about it either. If you own a Mac, you can access all of your iCloud photos via the Photos app, which makes it significantly less inconvenient.

That’s all there is to it! Now you can easily upload, download, and access your iCloud Photos on iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac computer. Let me know if there’s anything else related to iCloud photo management that you want me to cover.

 
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Conner Carey holds a bachelor's in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and resides in Fairfield, Iowa. When she's not writing, you can find her singing jazz or lifting weights. Her personal blog is currently under construction, but you can follow her on Instagram @connerleecarey.