How to Access Your iCloud Photos From Apple, Windows, and Android Devices

Yes, you can even get your photos when using an Android device

Apple's first attempt at photo sharing was called My Photo Stream, and although it had its perks, it didn't work on non-Apple devices. With iCloud Photos, however, you can store photos and videos in iCloud, and then access those files from devices with iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Windows, and Android.

A Dad, Mom, and child accessing photos from iCloud
Emilie Dunphy / Lifewire

Apple designed iCloud Photos to give you a way to back up the photos you take on an iPhone, iPad, or digital camera. Unlike My Photo Stream, iCloud Photos doesn't automatically download all your photos to all your devices. Instead, you choose optimized versions of photos to download to your device, saving storage space.

We show you how to access photos stored in iCloud Photos from Apple, Windows, and Android devices as well as from any web browser.

Instructions in this article apply to iOS 13, iPadOS 13, macOS Catalina (10.15), Windows 10, and Android 10. These instructions may apply to some earlier versions of these operating systems, as well, although the menu and command names may be different.

How to Access iCloud Photos From iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Before you can use iCloud Photos on your iOS or iPadOS device, you must turn it on. Then, complete the following steps to access your photos:

  • On your device, tap Photos.
  • In the Photos app, tap the Photos tab.
Photos app on iPad

You can view photos by the year, month, or day the photos were taken, or you can view all photos.

​Photos is a great app for viewing your images or making video memories out of photos. It's also a document directory from which you can share photos to an email, text message, or social media; send files to a nearby Apple device by using AirDrop; or save images to other cloud-based services such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

The Photos app goes hand in hand with the Files app in iOS and iPadOS. In the Photos app, tap a photo, tap the Share icon, and then tap Save to Files. From there, you can save the photo to any service you set up in Files (for example, iCloud Drive or Google Drive) or on your device.

In iPadOS, you can view the Files and Photos apps at the same time in Split View, and then drag images from one app to the other.

How to Access iCloud Photos on Mac

As with iOS and iPadOS, the Photos application in macOS is the quickest way to view photos in iCloud Photos. The images are kept in collections, and you can watch the Memories created from the images and videos in the collections.

You can drag images from the Photos app to any folder on your Mac. You can also drop photos into other applications, such as Microsoft Word or Apple Pages.

If you don't see your iCloud Photos images in the Photos application on your Mac, you may need to turn on the feature. To do so, complete the following steps:

  1. Select System Preferences.

    The Apple Menu on a Mac with the System Preferences command highlighted
  2. In System Preferences, select Apple ID.

    System Preferences in macOS with Apple ID highlighted
  3. In Apple ID, in the sidebar, select iCloud. Then, under Apps on this Mac using iCloud, select Photos.

    Apple ID settings in macOS with the iCloud heading and Photos option highlighted
  4. You may be prompted to sign in to your iCloud account. You may also be prompted to verify your iCloud settings.

How to Access iCloud Photos From Windows

If you want to access iCloud Photos from a Windows-based device, you must first download and install iCloud for Windows on the PC. To set up iCloud Photos on your device, complete the following steps:

  1. Open iCloud for Windows.

  2. Beside Photos, select Options.

  3. In Photos Options, select iCloud Photo Library, and then select Done.

  4. Select Apply.

To access your photos in iCloud Photos, open File Explorer. In the navigation pane, expand Quick access, and then select iCloud Photos. In the details pane, Windows divides iCloud Photos into three categories:

  • Downloads: These are the photos you took on your iPhone or iPad. These files should download automatically to your PC.
  • Uploads: From here, you can upload photos to your Apple devices.
  • Shared: This folder gives you access to any shared photo albums available in iCloud.
Windows 10 file manager

How to Access iCloud Photos From Android

Apple offers a browser-based version of certain iCloud apps for Android. It works much the same as in iOS or iPadOS, although with fewer options. For example, you can share photos only by email or by copying a link.

At the time of writing, only the Photos, Notes, Find My iPhone, and Reminders apps are available from the Android mobile browser.

To access iCloud Photos on an Android device, open a browser, and go to www.icloud.com. Sign in to iCloud when prompted, then tap Photos.

How to Access iCloud Photos From a Web Browser

If you don't want to set up iCloud on your device or are using someone else's device (including a Chromebook device), your iCloud Photos library is accessible from a web browser. To access your photos from a browser, complete the following steps:

  1. Open a web browser.

  2. In the address bar, type www.icloud.com, and then press Enter.

  3. Sign in to your iCloud account, if prompted.

  4. On the iCloud web page, select Photos.

    The iCloud website with Photos highlighted

From here, you can view your iCloud Photos library online, including videos. You can also upload photos by selecting the Upload icon, which looks like an up arrow pointing into the cloud.