If I fill up the space on my iPhone with photos, but those photos are synced with iCloud Photo Library, how do I remove those photos from my iPhone without deleting them from iCloud Photo Library. Hence, when I try to delete a photo it says:

This photo will be deleted from iCloud Photo Library on all your devices.

Seems like I'm stuck?

  • I can't tell you for certain right now, but I think it doesn't delete it from your iCloud Photo Library. It only deletes it from your devices.
    – Spotlight
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 18:10
  • 1
    @Spotlight This is wrong. As the message indicates, deleting a photo from the iCloud photo library deletes it everywhere.
    – Thomas
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


Since your goal is to free up space, you can configure your iPhone to only store thumbnails of the photos you have in iCloud Photo Library rather than the full-resolution images.

This is configured in Settings > iCloud > Photos > Optimize iPhone Storage (as opposed to Download and Keep Originals)

See this iMore article for more information on optimising storage.

It is not currently possible to completely remove photos or videos from one device when using iCloud Photo Library. This is clarified in the iCloud Photo Library beta FAQ:

Deleting a photo or video from your Photos app will also remove the item from iCloud Photo Library and from your iCloud storage allocation.

The solution would be to disable iCloud Photo Library, allowing you to delete certain photos from certain devices, but then new photos would not be synchronised automatically.

  • Thank you for your reply. I already have this feature enabled. I have a huge photo library with many videos. Question still remains.
    – VIPPY
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 18:15
  • @VIPPY To the best of my knowledge there is no way to do this while using iCloud Photo Library. I've updated my answer to reflect this.
    – Lyes
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 18:33
  • Thank you Lyes. This is a bummer as I was hoping to include my entire photo library (from my Mac) when the new Photos app becomes available in March. Golden wish: have a complete cloud solution that will allow me to access terabytes of photos/videos/documents from a phone or tablet that has minimal capacity. =)
    – VIPPY
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 18:40
  • I guess next question is, how optimized are these photos (and do the videos get optimized too). IE: a photo that is normally 3MB is optimized down to 500K.
    – VIPPY
    Commented Feb 4, 2015 at 18:43

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