How to Delete Photos From iPhone but Not iCloud

Save space on the iPhone by deleting old photos while keeping them on iCloud

What to Know

  • Disable automatic iCloud syncing from Settings > Apple ID > iCloud Photos.
  • Sign in to Google Photos > Select Profile photo > Turn on backup.
  • Log in to a different iCloud account from Settings > Apple ID

iCloud is the default backup for photos and videos, but if you trash any photo on the iPhone, it will be removed from iCloud as well. This article will show you workarounds that allow you to delete photos from the iPhone but not iCloud. 

How Do I Delete Photos From My iPhone but Not iCloud?

Depending on your needs, you can try several methods to clear up space on your iPhone.

Switch Off iCloud

iCloud Photos syncing is a default on every iPhone. As long as there's space on your iCloud account, it automatically syncs with Photos on the iPhone. In short, any photo on the iPhone or iCloud is the same and not a copy. Any photo deleted from iPhone is also deleted from iCloud if the sync is enabled. 

Follow these steps to turn off iCloud syncing.

  1. Open Settings from your iPhone homescreen and tap on the Apple ID with your name.

  2. On the Apple ID screen, select iCloud > Photos.

    Apple ID > iCloud > Photos in iOS settings
  3. Use the toggle switch for iCloud Photos to disable syncing.

    The "iCloud Photos" switch in iOS Settings
  4. With the connectivity between iPhone and the iCloud disabled, you can safely delete photos from your iPhone.

Back Up Your Photos With iCloud Alternatives

Using another cloud storage as a photo backup is a straightforward solution. Pick from Google Photos, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or any other. Google Photos is an ideal photo storage solution to create a backup of your photos that doesn't depend on iCloud.

  1. Download and open the Google Photos app.

  2. Sign in to Google Photos with the Google account you want to use.

  3. Select your Google profile photo in the top-right.

  4. Select Turn on backup.

    The user menu and "Turn on Backup" button in Google Photos
  5. Select the Backup & sync settings to store photos in their original resolutions or reduced quality.

    Confirm for bacup
  6. Select Confirm to begin the backup process.

The backup can take some time, depending on the number of photos and videos. Select and delete any photo from the iPhone's Photos app when the process is complete. You can still see all backed-up photos and videos in the Google Photos app and Google Photos on the web. However, you can only remove them from Google Photos.

Use an Alternate iCloud Account

Logging out of one iCloud account and using another iCloud account is a cumbersome workaround. But it's possible to preserve your photos in iCloud while you delete them from the iPhone. The old iCloud account will have your synced photos before you log out, while you can use the new iCloud account to sync everything from here on. 

  1. Select Settings.

  2. Select your name with the Apple ID.

  3. Select Sign Out from the bottom of the screen. Enter your Apple ID password to turn off Find My Phone and delink your phone from this iCloud account.

    The Settings app, Apple ID, and Sign Out button in iOS
  4. Log in to a new account by selecting Settings > Apple ID.

  5. Now, delete photos from the iPhone. The backup copies will not be deleted from the old iCloud account. 

Consider this solution if you have an extensive collection of photos and want to keep them within the Apple ecosystem and accessible from all Apple devices you own.


Delete one or two photos initially rather than in bulk when you want to keep their copies. Check the Recently Deleted folder on the Photos app and the account to recover any deleted photo.

  • How do I delete all photos from an iPhone?

    No way currently exists to instantly delete all of your photos, but you can use the process for deleting multiple photos on your iPhone to clear out your Camera Roll in a couple minutes. Open the Camera Roll, and then tap the clock on your screen to scroll all the way up to the top. Choose Select. Swipe your finger left to right across the top row of pictures, and then drag it down until you reach the most recent ones to select all of your photos. Then, click the Trash can icon.

  • How do I permanently delete photos from an iPhone?

    Removing items from your Photos app is only half of the process. To get rid of them for good, you also need to clear them from the Recently Deleted folder. Otherwise, your iPhone will delete them automatically after 30 days.

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