Why You Should Disable iCloud Photo Library (& What to Use Instead) (Video)

Is it just me or does it feel like Apple is constantly trying to get us to buy more iCloud storage? And it would make sense really. Think about the number of iPhones, iPads, and Macs out in the wild and how much money it would mean if just a small percentage of them even had to fork over $0.99/month for the lowest amount of extra iCloud storage.

One of the new features in iOS called iCloud Photo Library is definitely not helping. This feature, while in theory, allows you to backup all of your photos and videos on any of your iOS or MacOS devices to the cloud, takes up precious iCloud storage and adds up really quickly. Most people I know have run out of storage just from iCloud backups (another issue I have with iOS, but I digress) so adding this is almost a sure-fire way to guarantee you run out of iCloud storage.

There is a better way though. I touched on this in a video a long time ago about backing up your photos and videos but think we need to revisit the concept. You should turn off iCloud Photo Library and instead use another free service like, say, Google Photos which automatically backs up all of your photos and videos in an unlimited quantity for free.

So here’s how we do that.

Turn off iCloud Photo Library

First, let’s turn off iCloud Photo Library by going to Settings.


Tap on Photos.


Turn off iCloud Photo Library.

Turn off iCloud Photo Library

Use Google Photos to Backup All of Your Photos

Next, head to the App Store, search for and install Google Photos (it’s free).

Google Photos

Once installed, log in to your Google account (or create a free one) and tap the menu icon at the top left.

Tap on the Menu

Tap the gear icon to get to settings.

Tap Gear

Tap Backup & Sync.

Tap Backup

Turn it on, leave High Quality as the size (the limit is 16MP which, by the way, all of the newer iPhones including the X have 12MP cameras so they’ll be saved at the full size) to get Unlimited Storage. Also, select when to back them up, I have it set to cellular data since I have a high usage plan, but if you want to conserve data, use the Wifi setting.

Turn on Backup and Adjust Settings

Then go back to the main Google Photos page and tap on Assistant at the bottom left and it’ll tell you how many photos it has to back up. I highly recommend leaving this page open and the phone plugged in for the initial sync and then just opening the app once in a while to make sure it is continuing to back up new photos/videos.

Tap Assistant to Watch it Backup

Now, you can access these photos on any device by either installing Google Photos on it or by going to photos.google.com and logging in.

Google Photos in Browser

Reclaim Your iCloud Storage

Now, if you want to take this one step further and save even more iCloud storage, I’d recommend stopping iCloud from backing up your photos at all. I do this on all my iOS devices–I let it back up everything besides photos since it’s great at syncing everything else and it takes up very little space but photos/videos kill iCloud storage.

Only do this once you can confirm that Google Photos has backed up all of your photos so you don’t lose them (and maybe check out my backup video for other ways to backup the photos for redundancy sake).

To do that, head to Settings.


Tap on your name.

Tap on Your Name

Tap on iCloud.

Tap on iCloud

Tap on Photos and turn every option off.

Tap on Manage Storage (so we can remove the photos from iCloud now).

Tap on Manage Storage

Tap on Photos in storage.

Tap on Photos in Storage

Tap Disable & Delete, read and confirm what it says.

Hit back and check out how much more storage you now have (and then change your iCloud plan back to the free one and rejoice).

Check iCloud Storage Again

Hope that helps some of you out. Stay tuned for another tip and trick Tuesday next week and follow me on social to be notified when new tech stuff goes live.

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9 thoughts on “Why You Should Disable iCloud Photo Library (& What to Use Instead) (Video)”

  1. Steve Rugare

    I tried doing this, but Apple now threatens to delete all the photos from my phone when I disable iCloud photos. Typically monopolistic. It appears that one needs to activate Google photos first. (Basically, what I’ve learned dealing with iCloud photos today is that it’s time to extricate myself from Apple altogether. What a mess.)

  2. David,

    Great tutorial. I had more or less come to the same conclusion an was about to proceed when I downloaded the same image from iCloud Photos and Google Photos.
    They look the same as far as I can tell (70 year old eyes!), but the iCloud JPG is 2.807 KB in size and the Google Potos JPG is just 1.105 KB
    They are both JPG.
    Any idea what may be going on?
    Can I trust my Google Photos images to be same quality as Out-of-camera?
    I am attaching both JPGs in case anyone cares to take a look and comment
    Thank you and all the best
    Tom https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e9a65e91cde5849215ab1920981494fbc9bec4c0865eb0a72c09eb327f33900.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b67a9d884602a6bd0e9fda96d1f145761ffe5c495b9c843e0730d6dd5e2492f9.jpg

  3. If my photos are saved to my phone’s hard drive, do I really need to download Google Photos? Or are the photos in the iCloud saved ONLY to the iCloud? The way I read it, the 4+ GB of Photos Data in iCloud Storage is duplicative in case I lose my phone in the future.

  4. One you’ve deleted whatever photos that were saved from the iCloud, how do you re-download/save those very same photos, but on your iphone storage rather than google photos?

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