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How To Remove Photos From iCloud

Dan King
Dan King

Table of Contents

Over the last decade, mobile devices have moved from primarily being used as phones to primarily being used as cameras.  People love their photos and they take a lot of them!  According to, 1.72 trillion photos are taken every year.

With all of this picture taking going on, people are filling up the memory on their devices quickly, and cloud storage is filling up nearly as fast.  Because of this, it is very helpful to know how to delete unwanted images since you will likely be doing this on a regular basis, especially if you are taking a lot of photos for social media, since many of them will not be used.

Apple has made iCloud much more intuitive over the past few years.  Hardly anyone would argue with the fact that it has been quite a mess in the past with an unintuitive interface and limited options.  These days however, iCloud is pretty easy to navigate and you will find it quite simple to manage your photo library.

How to Delete Photos from iCloud on Mac

If you are using your Mac, the process is pretty simple:

  1. Using Safari browser, navigate to
  2. If you are using a MacBook with TouchID, you will be asked to login using TouchID.  If you are not using Safari, just enter your iCloud credentials.
  3. You will be presented with your home screen which gives you an overview of all of your Apple apps on one page.  It is actually quite handy because it allows you to make changes to many of your often-used Apple apps from one central location.  It will look similar to this:
iCloud web home screen

4.  Click on Photos

iCloud home screen Photos select

You will be presented with the iCloud Photos home screen:

iCloud Photos web home screen

5.  To delete a single photo, left click on one and click the Trash Can.

iCloud Photos delete a single photo

6.  When you choose to delete a photo, you will be presented with a warning that you are deleting it from ALL of your devices.  If you are sure you really want to delete an image, click Delete.

iCloud Delete warning popup

7.  If you change your mind and decide you did not want to delete an image, you have some time before they are permanently deleted.  In the Recently Deleted folder, you can find your deleted photos for up to 30 days.  After 30 days, they will be deleted forever.

iCloud Recently Deleted screen

How to Delete Photos from iCloud using iPhone

There are two processes to follow if you are using an iPhone. Since photos can be stored only on your iPhone (and not automatically synced with iCloud Photos) be sure to follow the correct process to be sure you delete the photos from iCloud.

If You Use iCloud Photos

For this process it is important to know if you are using iCloud Photos.  If you are syncing your Photos with iCloud, the process is pretty simple and straightforward and you should follow the following steps:

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Tap All Photos
iPhone Photos app All Photos button

3.  Tap Select in the top right corner

iPhone photos app Select button highlighted

4.  Select the photos you would like to delete by tapping on each one.  A small blue checkmark will appear on the photos you select.

5.  Once you are finished selecting your photos, tap the Trash Can

iPhone Photos app Trash can icon highlighted

A warning message will popup to make sure you want to delete the photos you selected.  Notice these photos are all shared from texts, so they will be retained in the texts they were originally shared in.

iPhone Photos app Delete warning popup

If You Do Not Use iCloud Photos

If you do not use iCloud Photos, your images are part of your regular iCloud backup.  This data can take up a large amount of space in your backups so you might want to check it from time to time. You can check how much space is being used by following these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  2. Tap on your Account at the top of the screen

3.  Tap iCloud.

Managing Account Storage

Here we can see about how much storage is being used by different media on our device. Photos almost always takes up the most space since images are larger than other files. You can manage how much storage is being used for photos using Manage Account Storage in your Settings app.

4.  Tap Manage Account Storage.

iPhone iCloud Manage Account Storage highlighted

Here we can see that the data in our Photos app is using 17.1 GB of space on our iPhone.  We can change several of our settings that affect the Photos app by entering Photos here.

5.  Tap Photos.

iPhone Manage Account Storage Photos storage

Here we can choose whether we want to sync our iPhone with iCloud Photos or whether we want to turn it off.  If we want to delete the data being used by Photos and Videos in our iCloud account we can do that here.  This is the quickest way to recover a large amount of space in our iCloud account.

6.  Click Manage Storage

Once you click Manage Storage, you can choose whether or not you want to continue using iCloud Photos and reclaim storage in your iCloud account.  

7.  Once you have gone through these steps, you can return to your Photos app and choose the photos you would like to delete using the method outlined above.  You preferences will determine how your photos continue to get backed up in the cloud.

Hint: It is always cheaper to back up your valuable photos on a physical backup drive that you own. Also, for enhanced privacy for your photos, physical backup drives are safer and more secure since your photos are not being stored in the cloud where security breaches sometimes happen.

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