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How to delete photos from iPhone and keep one iCloud?


iMore Question

I would like to clean up the photos on my iPhone but I would like to keep them on the iCloud. Is there any possibility of doing this? Or do I have to keep them on a thumb drive?


Apple Watch and AirPod Champion, Ambassador
Nov 2, 2009
If you are using iCloud Photo Library then if you delete them on one device they all go away. You will need to take them off the phone and store them elsewhere if you want to keep them.

Kiwi Des

New member
Apr 12, 2016
In that case the iCloud seems a total waste of time and money as a storage medium. Is there a way to keep all photos on my Mac which has quite a bit of free space, then I can delete the photos on iPhone to recover storage thereon. Seems iCloud is only a sharing means, and "storage"is a misnomer. What do you think.


Active member
Mar 12, 2016
As much as I like Apple, iCloud is somewhat of a disaster re: the way it works.
Unless I am wrong as well, if you delete photos on your phone, that deletes them on iCloud.

Two suggestions. If you do Amazon Prime, you get FREE unlimited photo storage on Amazon's Cloud. Download the app and backup your photos to Amazon's Photo cloud.
If not, then download a 3rd party like Photobucket. Download that app and back up your photos, then delete them on the phone.

I have Amazon Prime, and I also pay extra for Amazon Cloud Drive Unlimited. So I can store all of my music (FLAC) and all of my photos on Amazon and be done with it. It's TRULY unlimited. I've got about 2.5 TB on Amazon Cloud Drive, and don't worry about maxing it out because it's pay one price for the entire year, with no limit on storage. And it's Amazon. It's not like you have to worry about them going bye bye.

I WISH iCloud allowed you to save independent of iPhone deletions. Some day perhaps.


Ambassador Team Leader, Senior Moderator
Jan 8, 2012
If You've enabled iCloud Drive then you can use an app like Goodreader to store a copy of your pics there. Afterwards, you can delete the pics from your device.


Active member
Mar 12, 2016
It is amazing to me that Apple set iCloud up this way. iOS is SUCH an elegant operating system, and so much of what Apple does is SO right.

But this one, they got very wrong. As I posted earlier, iCloud is somewhat of a disaster.

So, unfortunately, I have a PhotoBucket app and/or my Amazon Cloud Drive app backup my iPhone photos, then I delete them from my phone. I'd GLADLY pay extra as a premium to have iCloud do this and thus keep EVERYTHING in the Apple Ecosystem. Gladly. I do pay extra for iCloud storage, but I'd pay even more for the ability to be able to set iCloud storage independently of iPhone.


Oct 2, 2013
Hey Mr Apple, got your ears on? Let iCloud store independently of our devices please.

iCloud is not a storage option. It's a back up option. It backs up what is currently on your device. If you want storage, upload photos to your computer or use cloud based apps like Box and Dropbox.