How to Delete Photos From iCloud (While Keeping Them on Your iPhone)

You don't need a third-party app; you can clear up iCloud space and keep images on your iPhone as long as you turn off syncing first

What to Know

  • Before deleting photos from your iCloud account, turn off the automatic back up of the iPhone to the iCloud.
  • Go to Settings > [Your Apple ID] > iCloud > Photos > Turn off iCloud Photos.
  • Sign in to > Photos > Choose the photos to delete > Select the Trash icon.

This article explains how to delete photos from iCloud without removing them from your iPhone.

How to Delete Photos From iCloud While Keeping Them on the iPhone

To delete photos from iCloud without deleting them from the iPhone, you need to check your phone's syncing status. Be sure syncing is turned off. Then, follow the steps below to remove images from the iCloud only:

  1. Open in any browser and sign in with your Apple ID and authenticate your identity.

  2. Select Photos.

    Photos in iCloud
  3. Press the Ctrl (Windows) or Command (macOS) key on your keyboard and select the photos you want to delete.

    Selected photo in iCloud Photos
  4. Select the trash can icon at the top-right of the page to delete the photos.

  5. The photos will be deleted from iCloud. With iCloud Photos turned off on your device, the photos in the iPhone's Photo library will not be affected.


When deleted, photos and videos are shifted to the Recently Deleted folder on both iCloud and the iPhone. They will be permanently deleted after 30 days, thus making it possible to recover them if you change your mind. To remove them permanently before 30 days, go to the Recently Deleted folder and select Delete All.

How to See if Syncing is Turned On or Off on iPhone

Syncing must be off to ensure photos deleted from iCloud aren't removed from your iPhone as well. To check whether or not iCloud Photo syncing is enabled on your iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Open Settings from your iPhone home screen and tap the Apple ID with your name.

    Settings app on iPhone Homescreen and Apple ID in iPhone settings
  2. Select iCloud > Photos.

    iCloud and Photos in iPhone settings
  3. Use the toggle switch for iCloud Photos to enable or disable syncing.

    Toggle switch for iCloud Photos On and Off
  4. To delete photos from iCloud without deleting them from the iPhone turn off the syncing by toggling the switch to off.

Now, you can delete photos from iCloud without removing it automatically from the iPhone. Follow the same steps to turn off iCloud syncing for any other Apple device.

Understanding the 'Optimize iPhone Storage' Setting

If Optimize iPhone Storage is enabled, all your full-resolution photos and videos are kept on iCloud and only the latest photos and videos are on the iPhone. When the iPhone is low on storage, the iPhone will upload the full-resolutions images (and videos) to iCloud and replace them with smaller-sized versions on your iPhone

If you delete anything from iCloud Photos, ensure you have the Download and Keep Originals option selected. Now, your entire photo library will remain on your phone (if there is enough free storage) even when you turn off iCloud Photos and start deleting photos from the cloud.

  • How do I download photos from iCloud?

    To download photos from iCloud, go to, select Photos, choose the photo(s), and select the Download icon (the cloud and down-arrow) at the top. To download the original version of the photo or video (in the original format with no edits), click and hold the Download icon and select Unmodified Original.

  • How do I upload photos to iCloud?

    To upload a photo to iCloud, go to, select Photos, then select the Upload icon (the cloud and up-arrow) at the top. Or, drag files from your computer to the Photos folder in your browser.

  • Why aren't my photos uploading to iCloud?

    Uploads may be paused when your battery is low or when you're connected to your mobile plan. Restart your device, check your internet connection, and charge your battery.

  • Do Photos Stay on iCloud if Deleted from iPhone?

    iCloud Photos is not a backup of a set of photos from your iPhone. Instead it is a replica of your current photo library on your iPhone. If you delete from either place (iCloud Photos or your iPhone), the syncing feature deletes the photo in the other place. The only way to keep a photo on the iPhone while deleting it from iCloud is to turn off the automatic syncing. This will not work if you later turn iCloud Photos back on.

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