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Using iCloud for Your Photos: How to Upload Photos to iCloud

iCloud

Uploading photos to Apple’s iCloud enables you to back-up your precious memories and easily access photos wherever you are.

In this guide, we’ll explain how to upload photos to iCloud from iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Macs and Windows PCs. We’ll also explain the different options you have when storing photos on your devices, and troubleshoot common issues.

How to upload photos to iCloud from iPhone or iPad

Follow these simple steps to turn on iCloud and all your images will be automatically uploaded.

1. Go to Settings
This is the cog icon on your home screen.

2. Select your name

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

3. Tap iCloud

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

4. Tap Photos

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

5. Turn on iCloud Photos
Make sure the button next iCloud Photos is green. Just tap it to change colour.

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

6. Select how you want to store your photos
You’ll be given two options:

  • Optimize iPhone Storage. Your phone will contain optimized, lower-resolution versions of your iCloud photos while full-resolution (and larger file size) versions will be stored in the iCloud (and are accessible when you have an internet connection)
Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud
  • Download and Keep Originals. This option lets you download all your photos and videos in full-resolution. It means you can enjoy higher quality images all of the time, but it will require much more storage space.
Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

7. Turn on Upload to My Photo Stream
Select the slider to change it to green (if not already). Enabling this means all new photos and videos will automatically upload to iCloud whenever you’re connected to WiFi.

How to upload photos to iCloud from Mac

To upload photos to iCloud when using a Mac, you just need to drag and drop your chosen files into the Photos library. Any photos or videos saved here will be automatically uploaded to iCloud Photos. This can include photos captured by a camera, content saved from online, anything that’s been shared with you, and any other photos and videos in suitable file formats.

You can do this by opening up the location of your flash drive, hard drive, Finder, Downloads folder and simply dragging and dropping content. To do this, just highlight the content you want to upload and drag into the iCloud Photos window.

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

First, however, you’ll need to make sure you have iCloud Photos turned on. To do this:

1. Open the Photos app

2. Click on Photos in the menu bar
You’ll find this in the top left corner.

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

3. Select Preferences

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

4. Click the box next to iCloud Photos

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

5. Select how you want to store your photos
You’ll be given two options:

  • Optimize iPhone Storage. Your phone will contain optimized, lower-resolution versions of your iCloud photos while full-resolution (and larger file size) versions will be stored in the iCloud (and are accessible when you have an internet connection).
Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud
  • Download and Keep Originals. This option lets you download all your photos and videos in full-resolution. It means you can enjoy higher quality images all of the time, but it will require much more storage space.
Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

How to upload photos to iCloud from Windows PC

You can upload photos to iCloud even when you’re not using an Apple product. It takes a few extra steps but once you know how to do it, it can be just as painless as uploading from a Mac.

1. Download iCloud for Windows
Visit Apple Support and download iCloud for Windows.

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

2. Open iCloud for Windows
Once installed, simply launch the iCloud for Windows program.

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

3. Select Options

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

4. Select iCloud Photo Library

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

5. Click Done

6. Click Apply
This will set your preferences.

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

7. Enable iCloud Photo Library on your iOS devices
This gives permission to sync. You can also select what exactly you’d like to share between devices here, such as your Photo Stream, and whether you download and upload new images to your PC automatically. If you don’t select an automatic option, you’ll just need to follow the further steps below to upload individual images.

8. Open Windows Explorer

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

9. Select icloud Photos

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

10. Select Upload Photos

11. Select the images you want to upload

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

12. Select Open

Using iCloud for your photos | How to upload photos to iCloud

Alternatively, you can use the drag and drop method. Just drop them into the Uploads folder on your Mac. This is likely easier when you are uploading multiple images.

How to store your photos on your iPhone or iPad

As we’ve already discussed, you can choose how you store your photos on your iPhone or iPad dependent on your preferred image quality and storage availability.

You’ll be given two options:

Optimize iPhone Storage

Your phone will contain optimized, lower-resolution versions of your iCloud photos while full-resolution (and larger file size) versions will be stored in the iCloud (and are accessible when you have an internet connection).

As the files will be smaller, the transfer time between devices will usually be quicker, too.

Download and Keep Originals

This option lets you download all your photos and videos in full-resolution. It means you can enjoy higher quality images all of the time, but it will require much more storage space.

This is particularly useful if you connect your device to larger screens as the original high resolution will be suitable for that screen.

Why are photos not uploading to iCloud?

There are various reasons as to why your photos may not be uploading to iCloud. Commonly, this is caused by iCloud Photo Library not being enabled, running out of iCloud Storage, experiencing a network issue, or a login problem with your iCloud account.

These problems can usually be easily remedied:

  • iCloud Photo Library is not enabled – Use your iPhone or iPad to navigate to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Photos and make sure the slider next to iCloud Photos is green. If it is, iCloud Photos is enabled. If it’s not, just tap it to change color and turn it on.
  • Insufficient iCloud Storage – To find out how much space is available on your device, go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud. You can choose to buy additional iCloud Storage if you like. Alternatively, you may want to delete unwanted photos already in your iCloud.
  • It’s a network issue – Go to Settings > Photos > Cellular Data to check that you’re connected to the internet, whether this is via WiFi and Cellular Data. You can see how strong the signal is here too.
  • Login problem with your iCloud account – Visit Settings > [Your Name] and here you can see if you are logged into iCloud. If you’ve changed your Apple ID’s password, you’ll need to update your credentials here.

How long does it take for photos to upload to iCloud?

The length of time it takes for your photos and/or videos to upload to iCloud will depend on the amount of photos you want to upload and the speed of your internet connection.

If you have a large amount of photos and videos you want to upload, this may take longer than usual. You can see the status of this upload and pause the upload for one day if you need. To do this:

  • On your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, navigate to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Photos. Alternatively, go to the Photos app, select the Photos tab, and scroll to the bottom and click Pause.
  • On your Mac, open the Photos app. Click on Photos in the sidebar, click Photos or Moments in the toolbar, scroll to the bottom of your photos and click Pause.

Create beautiful gifts with your iCloud Photos

Now that you’ve uploaded your photos to iCloud, you’re able to access them on any device you choose. And from there, you can choose to do whatever you’d like with them.

Transform your images into wonderful photo books and more with Motif.

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, doing the heavy-lifting while leaving the creative freedom to you.