Storing Pictures from Your iPhone in the (i)Cloud

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

Through the iCloud service, any photo you take with the iPhone or with another iOS 8 or later device can be automatically stored in the cloud and pushed to another iPhone, or your PC, Mac, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV (third generation or later). The transfer takes place through the magic of iCloud Photo Sharing, the antidote to the endless problem, “I’ve snapped a picture, now what?” Pictures are uploaded when your iCloud devices are connected to Wi-Fi.

One excellent piece of news on the storage front arrived with iOS 11: Apple brought compression formats to the iPhone that will let you double the number of photos (and videos) you can store on your device without, in theory, sacrificing image quality. These go by the names High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF) and High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). To capture photos and videos in these formats, choose Settings →Camera → Formats and make sure there’s a check mark next to High Efficiency. If you choose Most Compatible instead, the phone will capture pics and videos in the traditional JPEG/H.264 formats, just as it has for years.

You need no longer fret about storage space when using iCloud Photo Sharing. Apple used to store the last 1,000 pictures you took over a 30-day period in a special (then called) Photo Stream album — enough time, Apple figured, for all your devices to connect and grab those images, because a Wi-Fi connection was your only requirement. All the pictures you took remained on your PC or Mac, because those machines had more capacious storage. Thanks to iCloud Photo Library, the 1,000-picture limit on iOS devices no longer applies. Again, you can always manually move images that you have in the cloud into other albums on your iPhone or other iOS devices and computers, should you want to view those pictures when you don’t have an Internet connection.

There’s a catch to using the iCloud Photo Library: You have to pay for storage. You get 5GB of iCloud storage gratis, but shutterbugs will use that amount in a flash. You can get 50GB of storage for $0.99 a month, 200GB for $2.99 a month, or 2 terabytes for $9.99 a month.

Photos taken on the iPhone aren’t whisked to the cloud until you leave the Camera app. In that way, you get a chance to delete pictures that you’d rather not have turn up everywhere. But after you leave the Camera app, all the photos there are saved in All Photos (found in the list of Albums in the Photos app), including pictures that arrived as email attachments that you saved as well as screen captures taken on the phone.

You can save pictures in the All Photos album to any other album on the phone. Start by tapping the Select button at the upper-right corner of the screen. Next, tap each photo you want to move. Tap the Add To button that shows up at the bottom of screen and pick the new album destination for your chosen images.

If for some reason the pictures you snap on the iPhone are not uploaded, go to Settings, scroll down and tap Photos, and make sure Upload to My Photo Stream is turned on.

Be mindful of another setting if you’re concerned about exhausting your cellular data. Inside Photos Settings, you can choose to use cellular data or not when updating your photo library. If you flip the Unlimited Updates switch, you might exceed your quota if you’re on a limited data plan.