Enabling iCloud Photo LibraryFirst, when I mention iPhone here, it also applies to iPads. If you have a cellular enabled iPad, then all the cellular considerations apply to. For WiFi only iPads, it’s only going to upload when it has a WiFi connection. On your phone, go to Settings-> Photos and tap on iCloud Photo Library. If you expect to take many photos and don’t want to have to manage space, choose Optimize iPhone Storage. This will reduce the size of photos on the phone but the full sizes remain online. That’s all there is to enable iCloud Photo Library. Now when you take photos and videos, they will get uploaded to your iCloud account. If you have several Apple devices, you’ll be able to view and even share these photos and videos from anywhere. And even from any web browser you can log in to icloud.com to see and manage your pictures from there. As time goes on, you’ll have all your photos easily available. So in summary, these are the pros for enabling iCloud Photo library:
- backs up automatically to the cloud
- becomes available on all devices including any web browser
- easy to share pictures with others
The Other Side of iCloud Photo LibraryWhen the great features of systems like iCloud Photo Library are talked about, it’s always about the convenience and protection of your photos and videos. The questions I always ask about any system that stores my precious memories include:
- How easy is it to get my photos and videos out in the future in case I want to change to a different cloud provider?
- What happens if they go out of business?
- What happens if the system is hacked and I lose everything?
- If they do stick around, how can I ensure that I can give these photos and videos one day?
Hard to sync photos between iCloud and your computerIt’s not easy to sync up pictures to a computer if you use “my” method of storing photos. You can install iCloud for Windows which gives you some tools for synchronizing things like web browser bookmarks, email with Outlook and photos. As you can see here, you can both upload and download photos from your computer. In this case, I have 80 photos and 13 videos from 2018 that I can download to my computer. There’s no way to say only download photos that I’ve added since last time or a specific range.
It would be very easy with this download method to lose track of what is in folders on your computer vs what is in iCloud. If you keep your photos in organized folders by year, month and event, a much better choice is something like Dropbox or OneDrive.
Managing photos in iCloud web siteIf you log into icloud.com, you can browse through all your photos. There is no easy way to delete multiple photos – no ctrl-click, to select multiple, all you can do is select a “memory” which is photos on a certain date or album. Otherwise it’s one by one.