Yes, it is possible to delete photos from your iPhone while keeping them stored in your iCloud account. When you enable iCloud Photos on your iPhone, your photos are automatically uploaded and stored in iCloud. Deleting the photos from your iPhone does not delete them from iCloud as long as you leave iCloud Photos enabled.
Overview of iCloud Photos
iCloud Photos allows you to store your photos and videos in the cloud so you can access them on all your devices. Here’s a quick overview of how it works:
- When you enable iCloud Photos, your photos and videos are automatically uploaded to iCloud.
- These photos and videos take up your available iCloud storage space.
- Any photos or videos you take on your iPhone are automatically uploaded and stored in iCloud.
- You can access your photos and videos from iCloud on any device by signing into your Apple ID.
- Edits and deletions are synced across your devices so your library is up to date everywhere.
The key benefit is that even if you delete photos from your iPhone, the original high-quality versions remain securely stored and accessible in your iCloud account.
Deleting Photos from Your iPhone
When you delete photos from the Photos app on your iPhone, they will be removed from your iPhone’s storage but remain in your iCloud account. Here’s how to delete photos on your iPhone:
- Open the Photos app and find the photos you want to delete.
- Tap Select in the upper right corner.
- Tap the photos you want to delete to select them.
- Tap the Delete icon in the bottom left corner (a trash can icon).
- Confirm that you want to delete the selected photos.
The photos will be removed from your iPhone’s storage immediately. However, they will remain securely stored in your iCloud account.
Verifying Photos in iCloud
To confirm that your photos still exist in iCloud after deleting them from your iPhone:
- Go to iCloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID.
- Click Photos to open your iCloud Photos library.
- Verify that the deleted photos still exist here.
As long as you have iCloud Photos enabled, all your photos will be stored in iCloud at their original quality even if deleted from your devices.
Disabling iCloud Photos
If you ever decide to disable iCloud Photos on your iPhone, the photos stored in iCloud will no longer sync to your devices. Here is the potential impact:
- New photos taken will only be stored locally on your device, not in iCloud.
- Any photos previously deleted from your device will need to be re-downloaded from iCloud if you want them back on your device.
- Any edits made to photos on one device will not sync across your other devices.
- You could run out of device storage since new photos won’t be offloaded to iCloud.
Therefore, it’s best to keep iCloud Photos enabled if you want the flexibility of accessing your entire photo library from all your devices while still having the option to delete device-specific photos to save local storage space.
Using Optimized iPhone Storage
If you are low on iPhone storage space, instead of deleting photos you can enable Optimized iPhone Storage. Here’s how it works:
- Full resolution photos and videos will remain safely in iCloud.
- Your iPhone will store lower resolution versions that require less storage but are still high quality.
- You can download the full versions from iCloud when needed.
- Your iPhone storage is freed up while still keeping your entire library accessible.
To enable Optimized iPhone Storage:
- Go to Settings > Photos.
- Tap on Optimize iPhone Storage.
This is a great option for freeing up iPhone space automatically while keeping your original photos in iCloud.
Using iCloud Photo Library
iCloud Photo Library is an alternative option that syncs your entire photo library between your devices and iCloud. Here’s how it differs:
- All photos are downloaded at full resolution to your iPhone storage.
- Requires sufficient device storage for your whole library.
- Deleting a photo deletes it from all devices and iCloud.
- Edits sync across devices.
With iCloud Photo Library, you don’t have the option to separate photos stored on devices vs iCloud. It functions as one unified photo library.
Other iCloud Storage Considerations
When using iCloud Photos, keep these storage considerations in mind:
- Photos and videos can quickly consume your available iCloud storage.
- Once you reach your storage limit, new photos will no longer upload to iCloud.
- You may need to upgrade your iCloud storage plan for more space.
- Older device backups count against your storage limit too.
- Be diligent about removing photos you no longer need from all devices and iCloud.
Routinely manage your iCloud storage usage to ensure adequate space for your photos. Purge any unnecessary photos and videos that you no longer need.
Upgrading your iCloud storage plan provides more capacity for storing photos and backups. Apple offers upgrade options from 50GB up to 2TB of storage.
In summary, you can safely delete photos from your iPhone while keeping copies stored in your iCloud account. This allows you to free up valuable device storage space while still retaining access to those photos from the cloud.
As long as you have iCloud Photos enabled, your photos will remain securely stored in iCloud at their original quality even when removed from your iPhone and other devices. Be sure to routinely manage your iCloud storage usage to prevent reaching capacity limits.