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How to Set Up Your iCloud Photo Library

Senior Friends at Garden Party Reunion

Reading Time: 8 minutes read

Here’s an interesting exercise. Look through your entire photo collection and select a group of photos from a weekend getaway. What a great time, right? Now, calculate what you spent on that trip to come up with a price to replace all those images if they were lost. Imagine trying to recreate all those moments. Then, go onto the next group of photos. Maybe the one that you took when you visited your great grandparents in your ancestral hometown somewhere in Europe. What do you think the price tag would be on that group of photos? 

The point of these scenarios is to illustrate how important backing up your photos really is. 

Backing up your iPhone’s photos and video, syncing them with your other devices is the best way to prevent such loss. Apple’s iCloud Photo Library service lets you do all that while keeping your storage space free to capture every important moment. So if an iPhone, iPad or Mac of yours mysteriously disappears or somehow ends up in the pool, your photos will be safe in the cloud. Let’s learn more about iCloud photos and setting up an iCloud photo library.

In addition to backing up valuable photos to iCloud servers, printing your favorites in an Apple picture book creates a physical backup as well. Easily create photo books, calendars, and cards with Motif.     

What Is iCloud?

Apple icloud service

iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple launched on October 12, 2011. It’s been wildly popular with an estimated 850 million users as of 2020. An  iCloud account lets users store data such as documents, photos, and music on remote servers. Users can then download to iOS, macOS or Windows devices, to share and send data to other users. It’s a great way to manage their Apple devices if lost or stolen.

iCloud also provides the means to wirelessly back up iOS devices directly to iCloud, instead of being reliant on manual backups to a host Mac or Windows computer using iTunes. Service users are also able to share photos, music, and games instantly by linking accounts via AirDrop wireless.

How Do I Use iCloud for Pictures, Video and Data?

Man viewing someone's photo gallery on social media

Pictures and video can use a lot of storage space on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. And running out of storage will bring photography to a halt. The iCloud Photo Library will allow you to store all your photos and video online, freeing valuable storage space on your device.

When you turn on iCloud Photo Library and are on Wi-Fi, your iPad or iPhone will automatically copy your pictures and video from your device to your iCloud account. From iCloud, your photos can be accessed from your other Apple devices or from the web.

To activate, create an iCloud account, log in, and follow these simple steps. 

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner at the top of the screen.
  3. Select the iCloud option.
  4. Tap Photos.
  5. Tap the iCloud Photo Library toggle at the top of the screen to turn the service on or off.

Optimize Photo and Video Storage

If you routinely shoot lots of 4K video or high-quality images on your iPhone or iPad, you may run out of storage space on your device. Your iPhone and iPad offer an option called Optimize Storage. When enabled, your iPad or iPhone will locally store only the latest images and video you’ve taken; the others live up in iCloud, ready to be downloaded when you need them. When you optimize photo and video storage, you’re freeing up storage on your device.

Setting up the iCloud Photo Library can be completed with the following actions:

  1. Access Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap Photos
  3. Tap iCloud Photo Library on (Green is on).
  4. Tap Optimize iPad/iPhone Storage.

How Do I Upload Photos From iPhone to iCloud?

Once you log into your iCloud account, uploading photos from your iPhone to iCloud is actually very easy. Follow these simple steps to turn on iCloud on your iPhone or iPod and all your images will be automatically uploaded:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select your name.
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. Tap Photos.
  5. Turn on iCloud Photos.
  6. Select how you want to store your photos.
  7. Optimize iPhone Storage.
  8. Download and Keep Originals.
  9. Turn on Upload to iCloud Photo Library.

How To Sync Photos to iCloud

Pad with IOS 8 in hands on background Macbook Pro

When you enable and set up an iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone or iPad, your photos and video will automatically upload to iCloud. They’re also synced with your other iOS devices and Macs. Here’s how to to sync photos to iCloud and then with other devices:

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner at the top of the screen.
  3. Select the iCloud option.
  4. Tap Photos.
  5. Tap the Upload to My Photo Stream toggle to enable instant photo and video sync over Wi-Fi.

How to Get Photos From iCloud to iPhone

Say you order a new phone online and want to restore your iCloud photos without having to make a trip to your local Apple store. When you turn on iCloud Photo Library and are on Wi-Fi, your iPad or iPhone will automatically copy your pictures and video from your device to your iCloud account. Then, from iCloud, your photos can be accessed from your other Apple devices or from the web. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn on your iOS or iPadOS device.
  2. From the Apps & Data screen, tap Restore from iCloud Backup, then sign in with your Apple ID.
  3. Proceed to “Choose backup,” then choose from a list of available backups in iCloud.

If you want to know how to transfer photos from iPhone to iPad using iCloud, the process is very similar. The photos on your iCloud, after backup, should be identical to those on your iPhone. So logging into iCloud from your iPad and syncing will create an identical set of photos found on your iPhone.  

How Do I Turn on iCloud Photo Library?

Apple has made it easy to access and control iCloud. So easy it often requires just a few clicks or taps. To turn it on or off, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner at the top of the screen.
  3. Select the iCloud option.
  4. Tap Photos.
  5. Tap the iCloud Photo Library toggle at the top of the screen to turn the service on or off.

How to Update iCloud Photos

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Europe, Germany, Relief Map

Did you just take some amazing photos like the one above you’d rather not lose? You can’t share photos if they somehow get lost. Well fear not. With iCloud Backup, iCloud automatically backs up your iOS or iPadOS device information over Wi-Fi when your device is turned on, locked, and connected to a power source.

iCloud backups count toward your iCloud storage. You can also back up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using your computer. To learn more about the difference between iCloud and computer backups, see the Apple Support article About backups for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Important: iCloud backups are available for 180 days after you turn off or stop using iCloud Backup.

Turn on automatic backups:

  1. On your iOS or iPadOS device, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
  2. Turn on iCloud Backup.

Back up manually:

After you turn on automatic backups, you can manually back up your device at any time.

  1. On your iOS or iPadOS device, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
  2. Tap Back Up Now.

How Do I Get to My iCloud Photo Library?

To access your online iCloud Photo Library, log onto iCloud.com with any web browser using your Apple ID. From the web iCloud Photo function you can download, print or share your iCloud photos.

Safeguard Your Special Memories with iCloud and Motif.

Yes, a larger capacity storage plan with iCloud will cost a few dollars a month. However, if you consider the costs involved in recreating those images, iCloud storage is a worthwhile alternative. It’s also worthwhile printing some of your favorite photos into photo books, calendars, and cards. You can capture all the details while they’re fresh in your memory. 

From your iPad and iPhone, simply download and open the Motif Photos app and choose the photo project you want to create. On your Mac, simply download and install Motif. In the Photos app, select a photo, album, or memory then choose File, then select Create, then choose Book, Calendar, or Card, then select Motif. Motif helps place your best photos into a layout of your choosing. Be sure to add all the details of your subjects with the text feature, then sit back and relax. Motif prints and ships your photo project to your door.  

Bring your photo memories to life with Motif.

Experience the joy of creating personalized photo projects with Motif. Our photo book app seamlessly works with Apple Photos in macOS and iOS. It does all the complicated stuff leaving the fun creative freedom to you.
Pete