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How to delete photos from iCloud storage

6 min read

Your iCloud suffocating? Well, you must be a fabulous photographer! In most cases, when your iCloud is full, it’s full of images and videos. Unless you clean up your library every week, there must be quite many duplicates and nearly identical photos cluttering up your storage. In this article, we explain how to delete photos from iCloud storage, including the duplicates, so you don’t have to pay for a storage plan upgrade. 

How to delete photos from iCloud without losing them on iPhone

Modern iPhones arrive with a rich storage capacity, which means you can store a good bunch of photos and videos locally. Apple recommends syncing your iPhone media to iCloud, so you don’t lose your precious photos when something happens to your iPhone or it runs out of storage. But it’s always your choice! You can disable syncing and keep your images on iPhone, while deleting them from iCloud. 

Here’s how to delete photos from iCloud but not iPhone: 

  1. On your iPhone, open Settings
  2. Tap your account name 
  3. Go to iCloud > Photos
  4. Disable iCloud Photos syncing 

Disable iCloud Photos syncing

  1. Next, open icloud.com in a browser and sign in with your Apple ID — it’s best to use your Mac for this
  2. Go to Photos, press the Command key and select the photos you want to delete (find more tips on selecting multiple photos in iCloud here)
  3. Click the Trash icon in the top-right corner to delete the selected photos. 

Delete photos from all your devices

Now the photos are gone from iCloud Photos on all your devices, but your iPhone library hasn’t been affected. 

If you’re wondering how to delete all photos from iCloud, we have good news: you don’t have to click on each photo to delete it. Instead, press Command + A to automatically select all images. One condition: you need to do it on Mac.  

After you’ve wiped your iCloud library clean, the photos will still be kept in the Recently Deleted folder for the next 30 days. After that, they will be deleted permanently. This is why you shouldn’t worry about accidentally deleting an important file, you can restore it: 

  1. Go to icloud.com
  2. Choose the Recently Deleted folder in the sidebar 
  3. Select the photos and videos you want to restore and click Recover. 

There’s also an option to delete the photos and videos from the Recently Deleted folder if you don’t need them to stay there for another 30 days: open the folder on icloud.com and click Delete All. That’s how to permanently delete photos from iCloud. 

Recently deleted

Tip: If you’re hesitant about deleting photos from iCloud because you think something could happen to your iPhone and you’d lose the photos forever, back up your phone with AnyTrans for iOS. With a built-in backup manager, this superb tool will help you protect your precious memories. 

Backup Manager

How to permanently delete all photos from iCloud on an iPhone or iPad

Although it’s most convenient to clean up an iCloud account from Mac, you can also use your iOS device for the job. For example, you might want to go this way if you have iCloud syncing enabled and want to delete photos and videos both on your iPhone/iPad and iCloud. 

Before we explain how to delete iCloud photos from iPhone, here’s one useful tip: install Gemini to get rid of duplicates and similar photos. This is a great way to clean up your library. And who knows, maybe after you get rid of all the duplicates, you won’t need to delete any more photos! 

Here’s how to delete photo duplicates and similars with Gemini: 

  1. Open Gemini via Setapp — you can install the app both on Mac and iPhone
  2. Let Gemini scan your camera roll (it will take just a few seconds) 
  3. Conveniently, Gemini will organize duplicates and similar photos/videos into folders, so you can review the results and either select certain items you want to delete or delete all. 

remove duplicate photos from iCloud Storage

If you still want to know how to delete photos from iCloud on iPhone, here’s how it works for synced devices: 

  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone/iPad
  2. Tap your account name 
  3. Go to iCloud > Photos
  4. Enable iCloud Photos syncing 
  5. Open the Photos app
  6. Tap and hold the image you want to delete and choose Delete from Library or use the Select button to select multiple photos/videos, and then tap the Trash icon to delete them all. 

That’s it. The photos are now gone from your device and iCloud account. 

There’s also an option to clear up your entire iCloud photo library from iPhone, without having to select photos one by one. Here’s how it works: 

  1. Open Settings on iPhone/iPad 
  2. Tap your account name 
  3. Go to iCloud and tap Manage Storage
  4. Choose Photos and tap Disable & Delete 
  5. Confirm that you want to delete photos. That’s how to delete photos from iPhone iCloud. 

delete photos from iPhone iCloud

Bonus tip: Clean up storage on Mac 

Once you know how to delete photos from iCloud, it will become easier for you to manage your storage on any Apple device. But let’s admit it, cluttered storage is not always our fault. On macOS, tons of junk files — app caches, leftovers, system file duplicates — are generated on a daily basis. It’s not easy to delete them manually, so they just sit there, eating up your gigabytes. 

CleanMyMac X will help you get rid of redundant system files and other Mac junk: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X via Setapp 
  2. Choose System Junk and run a scan 
  3. Click Clean to get rid of junk files. 

get rid of junk files

How to delete photos from iCloud storage: Recommended flow 

We hope this guide on how to delete photos from iCloud comes in handy and helps you free up quite a few gigabytes! While there are different ways to declutter storage, you should always take into account things like your local storage capacity, the capacity of your iCloud plan, and the risks involved. For most folks, the following flow will be the most favorable: 

  1. Scan your photo library with Gemini for iOS and get rid of duplicates and similar photos
  2. Back up the most precious iPhone photos with AnyTrans for iOS
  3. Enable iCloud syncing if you want to delete photos from both iCloud and your iOS device. Then, delete them from your iPhone
  4. If you came here to learn how to permanently delete photos from iCloud and not iPhone, disable iCloud syncing and delete photos via your iCloud account
  5. Install CleanMyMac X to keep your Mac storage tidy, too. 

CleanMyMac X, Gemini, and AnyTrans are part of Setapp, an app subscription for macOS and iOS, so you don’t have to buy them. In fact, we encourage you to try them out with a free trial first, and then decide if you need them. Other than that, we wish you a productive storage cleanup!

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