What happens if you turn off iCloud photos?

What happens if you turn off iCloud photos?

How iCloud photo storage goes around is not the easiest thing to understand on earth. Actually, almost all cloud storages are very complicated, including Google Photos. But this type of storage is very handy most especially when your iPhone runs out of space storage.

So, have you been thinking of turning off your iCloud photos and is thinking of what will happen next? Does turning off iCloud photos will delete all your photos on your iPhone? Will your photos no longer exist on iCloud. Well, whatever your reason is for wanting to turn off iCloud photos, we got you covered with what will gonna happen if you do so. 

But before anything else, let’s understand the basic concept first. 

What is iCloud?

Photo of icloud homepage on a iMac monitor screen through a magnifying glass
iCloud is Apple’s online storage.

iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage and cloud computing service which can be used by all Apple devices. It can store photos, videos, messages, contacts, reminders, and so much more online. It enables you to access your files remotely as long as you are connected to the internet. Generally, its primary functions are to store, back up, and access data.

When turned all, all the photos that you have on your iPhone will be saved into the cloud. If you have multiple devices that make use of the same Apple account, then all your photos and videos will appear on your Apple devices. Your iCloud library will contain all your photos across your multiple devices which are connected to the same Apple account. 

For example, you have enabled your iCloud photos first then after a few weeks, you have enabled iCloud photo on your iPad as well then, you can view your photos from your iPhone using your iPhone and vice versa. This is because iCloud syncs all existing photos on both your iPhone and iPad. 

Is it ok to turn off the iCloud photo library?

In this photo illustration the iCloud logo is displayed on a smartphone.
iCloud allows Apple users to store their files remotely.

Yes, it is okay to turn off the iCloud photo library but there are consequences that come with it. There are two ways on how you can turn off the iCloud photo library. You can either turn it off in one device only or you can turn it off in all your devices. These two ways are completely different from one another thus, you have to be very careful in using any of the two. Here is why:

1. Turn off iCloud photo library on a single device

The aftereffect of turning iCloud photo library in a single device, say your iPhone, is not that easy. What will happen next depends on the two options that you have – ‘Optimize iPhone Storage’ and ‘Download and Keep Originals.’

Before going into the details on what will happen if you turn off iCloud photo library, here is how to disable it:

  • Go to Settings. 
  • Click on your name. 
  • Tap on iCloud.
  • Choose Photos and then turn off the iCloud photos toggle.

Optimize iPhone Storage 

The Optimize iPhone Storage option saves most of your iPhone photos on the cloud. It saves the original photos on the cloud and the photos that are stored in your Camera Roll are the smaller version or the photos with lesser resolution. This option is very helpful if the space storage of your iPhone is very limited.

The process of optimization is automatic. It is Apple’s algorithm who decides if your photo should be optimized and when will the optimization process begin. You do not have the power to select yourself which photos should you optimize. The optimization process takes place only when your iPhone has no longer enough space for all the photos and other files that you have. If you want to see the full resolution of your photos, all you have to do is to open ‘optimized’ photos on your iPhone. Yes, you can view it but the photo won’t be saved on your iPhone. 

There are two things that could possibly happen if you choose the Optimize iPhone Storage option when trying to turn the iCloud photo library. First, your photos will stay in the cloud as if nothing happened. This could be possible given that your device has enough space, you have not added any media from the iCloud website, and you have only connected one device on iCloud. 

Download and Keep Originals

Things are more straightforward with the Download and Keep Originals option. This option offers high-resolution images on both your iPhone and iCloud which means that it takes more space your iPhone’s storage and on the cloud. 

If you turn off iCloud on your iPhone only, all of the photos in your iPhone will remain. You can also access your photos on the connected devices or on iCloud. But, a newly taken image will no longer be saved on iCloud. 

2. Turn off iCloud photo library on all your devices.

iCloud on different devices.
Apple allows users to use the same iCloud account across multiple devices.

If the iCloud photo library is not your thing and you have multiple Apple devices, it is possible for you to turn off the iCloud photo library on all of your devices through the “Disable and Delete” feature. With this, all your photos that were saved on the iCloud will be deleted. 

When you turn off the iCloud photo library using the Disable and Delete option, you will notice that the iCloud photo library is still on but you actually have nothing to worry about. Your iCloud photos will be automatically turned off after 30 days. 

What will happen if I delete an image while iCloud is turned off?

Your photos will not be removed from iCloud or other connected devices if you delete any photo on your iPhone while the iCloud photo library is turned off. But once you turn on the iCloud photo library, that particular image will be deleted from iCloud and other connected devices.

What will happen if you turn on the iCloud photo library?

If you enable the iCloud photo library on your iPhone, then all your images will be saved on the cloud. If you have other devices that are connected to the same iCloud account, then all of these devices will have access to your images across all devices. The photos that you take will be automatically saved and backed up on iCloud if the iCloud photo library is turned on. 

What happens when I go over my iCloud storage limit?

If you have used your allotted iCloud storage already, then your photo will not be upload and saved on the cloud. Your library across all of your devices will not be updated as well. What you can do is to either buy more storage or delete some of your files. If you plan to upgrade your storage plan, the cost is $0.99 a month. 


Turning off your iCloud photo library isn’t as simple as you think as there are consequences that come with it. Before turning off your iCloud photo library, make sure that you have considered every aspect. The iCloud photo library can be a great way to store your images when you don’t have enough space but its downfall is that you have to be connected to the internet in order to access it.