Blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks: What it means

Blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks: What it means

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yellow exclamation mark on blue background. - iPhone photos with exclamation marks
Don’t let the exclamation mark alarm you.

Whether you have an updated iPhone 6S or an iPhone X, you may have encountered a few blurry photos with exclamation marks on them. It can be a nuisance, especially if those are important photos of your children or screenshots of a certain document. 

Don’t panic, though. There’s an explanation for this and we’re discussing it in this article. We’ll also provide some steps on how to fix them and a few more information about your iPhone’s storage and iCloud. 

Blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks: What it means

These blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks indicate that your iCloud Photo Library setting is turned on. As a result, your phone uploads your original photos to iCloud to free more space in the storage. The iPhone photos with exclamation marks are the optimized photos that replaced the original ones.

However, the original photos are not deleted at all—they are safe and sound in your iCloud. You can also get the original photos back from your iCloud and make the blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks disappear. 

How to fix the exclamation point on iPhone photos

Download the original photos

  1. Make sure your WiFi is on.
  2. Go to your Settings. 
  3. Tap the iCloud option and then the Photos option. 
  4. Select “Download and Keep Originals”. 
  5. Your iCloud and your phone will sync and your original, full-resolution photos will now download.
  6. The blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks will also disappear.

Edit a photo.

  1. Select a photo.
  2. Tap Edit. 
  3. Click Cancel. 
  4. This will immediately download the original photo. 

Turn off the iCloud Photo Library

  1. Delete your unwanted photos to make space for the original, high-resolution ones that were uploaded to your iCloud.
  2. Make sure your WiFi is on. You will be downloading the full-resolution photos from your iCloud, so it will probably take a while. 
  3. Go to your Settings. 
  4. Tap the iCloud option and then the Photos option. 
  5. Switch off the iCloud Photo Library. That will prevent your iPhone from syncing with your iCloud and uploading high-quality photos every time your WiFi is on.
  6. This will download all your original photos and videos stored in your iCloud.

Tips to free more storage on your iPhone 

iPhone showing a "Storage Full" warning. - iPhone photos with exclamation marks
Freeing your storage is another way to prevent blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks.

Syncing your photos with the iCloud Photo Library is useful when you quickly run out of storage. But if you don’t like syncing and dealing with the exclamation mark photos again, you can do these things to save on storage space.

  • Buy an external hard drive or an extra flash drive for all your files if you don’t want to store them on iCloud.
  • Check your iPhone storage to see which apps are consuming the most space.
  • Delete your messages or the photos you sent and received in your iMessages.
  • If you want to empty an SD card, an SSD, or an external hard drive and place new files on them, you can use a wireless SD card reader to transfer the files to a different storage device. Wireless SD card readers are usually portable so they’re convenient if you have an on-the-go lifestyle.
  • Change your messages’ expiration date to after 30 Days.
  • Delete your internal downloads. For example, do you use Spotify? You might have downloaded a 30-song playlist on your app, which you haven’t listened to for quite some time now. 
  • It would also be wise for you to invest in a micro SD card that is compatible with different devices such as a DSLR camera. You can use this micro SD card to easily transfer files to a laptop.
  • Turn off your “Keep Normal Photos” on your HDR settings. This will allow you to save only one photo instead of two every time you use HDR.
  • Use lower resolution when recording videos. We recommend recording at 720p HD and 30fps. 
  • Remove the ePUBs or PDFs on your iBooks app. Let’s face it: you just don’t have the time to read them anymore. So, go ahead and get rid of a couple of those novels!
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Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera w/ 16-50mm and 55-210mm Power Zoom Lenses
Canon EOS RP Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera + RF24-105mm Lens F4-7.1 IS STM Lens...
Canon EOS RP Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera + RF24-105mm Lens F4-7.1 IS STM Lens...
Nikon D5600 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm VR Lens + 32GB Card, Tripod, Case, and More (18pc Bundle)
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Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera w/ 16-50mm and 55-210mm Power Zoom Lenses

iCloud Photo Library: Is it worth using?

photo showing iCloud logo and text. - iPhone photos with exclamation marks
iCloud may or may not be right for you.

Now that you know what is causing the “ghost” photos, maybe you’re thinking of not using the iCloud Photo Library. Or maybe you’re thinking of forgetting it forever. But before you do that, why not get to know it first? The iCloud Photo Library can be useful in many situations. Just learn how to use it!

What is the iCloud Photo Library, anyway?

The iCloud Photo Library is like your online photo gallery where you can find all your synced photos and videos. You can access it anywhere and anytime from any Apple device or even PCs—as long as you know your Apple ID, your password, and you have an internet connection. The iCloud Photo Library comes with iCloud, the free but optional storage service that comes with any Apple device (iPhone, iPad, or Mac).

Related: What happens if you turn off iCloud photos?

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New Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display (27-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)
Apple iPhone 11, 128GB, Black - Fully Unlocked (Renewed)
Apple iPhone 11, 128GB, Black - Fully Unlocked (Renewed)
Apple iPad Pro Tablet (128GB, Wi-Fi, 9.7in) Gray (Renewed)
Apple iPad Pro Tablet (128GB, Wi-Fi, 9.7in) Gray (Renewed)
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Why should you use it?

iCloud drive logo.
Is iCloud worth using?

With your Photos app already on your phone, you might doubt the usefulness of the iCloud Photo Library (IPL). However, these benefits might change your mind: 

  1. It’s a convenient way of storing different types of photos and videos. The IPL can save a wide range of file formats including GIFs, TIFFs, MP4, RAW, and many more. If you work in the multimedia industry, the IPL can easily lend you a hand when you’re running out of storage for your photos and videos.
  2. It’s very secure and safe. In case of an emergency such as losing your iPhone or if your Mac got damaged, the IPL has your back. This is made possible by the CloudKit, which is the software owned by Apple that runs on macOS, iOS, and web. CloudKit allows you to access your existing data from any platform or device. 
  3. You can manage, delete, or add photos from anywhere even offline, as long as you have a USB charging cord for iPhone. However, the changes will only get to take effect once you go online. For example, if ever you decide to edit a photo on your Mac and continue doing it on your iPhone later, you can absolutely do it with the help of IPL.
  4. If you take a lot of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos, you can rely on the Optimize Storage option. HDR photos take up a lot more space than the regular ones. The Optimize Storage feature will upload your high-resolution photos and replace those with low-resolution versions (the blurry photos with exclamation marks), letting your storage breathe. 
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Apple iMac (21.5-inch, 8GB RAM, 1TB Storage) - Silver (Previous Model)
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New Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display (27-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage)
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What to do if iCloud is not syncing 

White iPhone showing iCloud for books logo, with a blue button saying "use iCloud".
Is paying for extra storage in iCloud worth it?

Some iPhone users have complained about having trouble syncing their photos with their iCloud Photo Library. If you just updated to iOS 13, there’s no need to worry. You can fix it using these steps. 

  1. Reset your network settings. You might need to wipe off your WiFi settings and start over, as the syncing issue might stem from a connection problem. To reset your network settings, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
  2. Restart your iPhone. Sometimes, your device might need a little breather. So, give it a good ol’ restart. Wait for a couple of minutes before you sync again. 
  3. Make sure your iCloud Photo Library setting is turned on. You might have switched it off by accident, so be sure to double-check. 
  4. Check if you used all the free storage space in the iCloud Photo Library. Most probably, it’s not syncing because there’s no more space in the IPL for more photos or videos.  

Related: Why iPhone Photos Are Not Loading And What You Can Do

Paying for more storage space in your iCloud Photo Library 

iPhone showing a prompt of iCloud Backup.
Are iCloud storage plans worth the prices?

The free iCloud service lets you store 5GB-worth of files. To the average user, this might already be more than enough. However, to heavy media users and creators, Apple offers its users more options to store their beloved files. 

Apple has three monthly iCloud storage plans for its users:

  • 50GB storage for $0.99
  • 200GB storage for $2.99
  • 2TB for $9.99

Now, the question is: Is it worth paying for more storage space in this service? Well, that depends on your habits or your profession.

If you’re a photographer, videographer, or a graphic designer who uses Apple devices, paying for any of those iCloud storage plans might help you. 

Apple devices: iPad, Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch.
There’s more to iCloud than just syncing your photos.

You also have to consider the kind of storage devices and services to which you’re currently subscribed. Check if they can give you the kind of convenience that iCloud can provide. Are there any benefits to using iCloud that trumps the other services you’re using?

For instance, if you already have one external drive or a Google Drive, you might want to start with the 50GB storage plan first. From there, weigh the pros and cons of having both or just one. Do you think that you’re more at ease with managing your MP4 files on iCloud?

Another thing you can consider is if you, your family, or your teammates own multiple Apple devices. If you all do, then the 2TB storage plan might actually be a good fit for you. Not only will subscribing to a storage plan will secure your files but it will also help you collaborate with each other faster and easier. 

Of course, you should think twice before subscribing to an iCloud storage plan if you’re not a heavy media user or streamer. With the free 5GB storage space from the iCloud Photo Library and our storage space-saving tips above, we’re sure you can manage.

Final thoughts

The blurry iPhone photos with exclamation marks are not a serious problem. It shouldn’t let you break a sweat. Overall, it’s a storage and/or connecting issue you can easily solve by just tinkering around your settings. However, to avoid inconveniences like this, just be mindful of your iCloud and phone usage.

Photo Video Lounge is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc.

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