I want to use iCloud Photo Library just to get photos I take on my phone to my computer. My Photo Stream would work fine if it was reliable. Now I have more than 5GB of photos so I have to pay at least $1 a month just to sync photos unless there is a way to download only or archive some photos not to be synced with iCloud Photo Library (yet still viewable in the app).

1 Answer 1


You can export original photos out of Photos on the Mac and then delete them.

At that point, they go into the Recently Deleted album. You can then manage things so you don't exceed your 5 GB allowance.

Both iOS and Mac preferences allow you to measure and see the storage allocation.

Then you can have a second Photos database on the Mac to store all the "offline" photos. It won't be the "system library" and it won't receive photos automatically from the cloud. You'll have to import photos manually to that second (and all other) libraries.

  • 1
    I haven't done this but I can imagine it will work. It will also bring me a headache to manage two Photos databases though :(
    – puri
    Apr 9, 2015 at 21:45
  • @puri Yes. I ditched my 20 GB plan and am now paying for 200 GB to avoid that pain. If I guess wrong, I'll scale back and use another program or choose to keep shuffling separate libraries. I'm hopeful that photos will save me the time I would have spent managing multiple libraries and the time to earn the $4 a month cost for storage.
    – bmike
    Apr 9, 2015 at 22:21

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