I don't want to pay Apple any more to upgrade my iCloud storage, so I want to clean-up the photos that are stored with iCloud Photo Library. I cannot find any way to download and backup my photos easily so that I can delete them from my cloud storage.

From Apples website:

If you enabled iCloud Photo Library, your photos and videos are automatically uploaded to iCloud at full resolution. To make copies of these photos and videos:

  • In iOS 8 or later, select Download and Keep Originals, then import the photos to your computer.
  • In OS X Yosemite v10.10.3 or later, open the Photos app, then select Download and Keep Originals.
  • Use iCloud.com to download the most recent version of photos and videos to your computer.

So, obviously I've tried the last option, but if one selects multiple photos and then click Download, it downloads all the files at the same time with garbage file names and without file extensions! You have to manually rename every file and guess the extension (usually .jpg for photos and .mp4 or .mov for videos).

Is there a better way to get a copy of my photos? The first option won't work because I have 20 GB of photos and my iPhone doesn't have room. The second option won't work for me because I don't have a Mac.

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    I can't reproduce the problem described using Google Chrome on OS X 10.10.3; multiple files are saved with their names and extensions. Have you tried different browsers on Windows? – Jaime Santa Cruz Jun 10 '15 at 2:46
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    Yes, I have tried multiple browsers (Chrome, FireFox, IE, Safari, Opera). I did just discover something new, however. The most recently taken photos/videos do actually download with original names and extensions. It's all of my photos from more than 3 months ago that have the problem. I've always tried downloading the older photos first, so I never noticed that the newer photos actually download correctly. – 11101101b Jun 10 '15 at 14:00
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    Might not be possible on windows unless they release a new iCloud tool. Perhaps you could rent an OS X machine. This place has a free trial for a day, but it's only 10 gigs. Might be enough to delete partial, sync to dropbox, and then get the rest in batches. macincloud.com – empedocle Jul 10 '15 at 20:06
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    I was able to download files of mine form more than three months ago, with the correct file names - maddeningly, iCloud Photo doesn't show you the original names of the files, but I suspect that the files you are trying to download have weird file names on your phone. Do you have access to Dropbox? you could install on your phone, and use that to sync all the photos to your computer (Camera Upload function) and then delete the iCloud copies later – TheWellington Jul 11 '15 at 15:14
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    @GeekDunkman My solution was to start using Google Photos. They give you unlimited free storage for photos (up to 14 MP) and videos (up to 1080p). The app automatically uploads everything for me and I can even tell it to "clean synced stuff from my device" when my device becomes low on storage. – 11101101b Mar 15 '16 at 18:23
  1. Go to https://www.icloud.com/#photos.
  2. Go to Albums -- All Photos folder.
  3. Click Select Photos on top-right of the page.
  4. Select first photo and Shift-select last photo.
  5. You should see all photos are selected now.
  6. Click Download in top-middle menu.
  • That's exactly what I've done, but it only works with the newer photos. All of the older photos and videos download without filenames or extensions (just a blob of bytes), and cannot be opened unless I manually rename them and guess the right file extension. – 11101101b Oct 23 '15 at 20:23
  • Also it not download all photos in a series. – msangel Aug 23 '16 at 19:04
  • No, unexpectedly, but it is downloading all photos from series as separate photo. Thanks. – msangel Aug 23 '16 at 19:13
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    I cannot shift select on Safari nor Chrome on OSX nor Win10. Did Apple remove this feature? – Zlatty Jan 14 '17 at 4:13
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    This button seems to have been removed. I have the same issue on Windows 10 with Chrome. – Cpt Reynolds Jun 11 '17 at 12:29

I downloaded the icloud manager app: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204283.

Then in bottom right control panel on Windows (where the printer, volume, and wifi icons are located) clicked on the icloud icon then download photos then you can select ALL or by year.

This method doesn't prompt a thousand save as windows like doing it via icloud.com does.

  • This should be marked as the correct answer. – Chris Schiffhauer Jan 15 '17 at 22:00
  • Yes works like a charm in 06/2017. – Marco Jun 10 '17 at 8:25

The best I've seen is that you can download a "moment" at a time with the iCloud web interface, which in Chrome on a PC as of 9/23/2015, downloads a pile of individual images named "IMG_XXXX.JPG" to your downloads folder. Tedious, but at least it's not as slow as downloading individual files.

I'm thinking of running a Hackintosh virtual machine on my home PC just for the purpose running the OS X Photos app and maintaining an archive of full-resolution images while enjoying the seamless synchronization and low-resolution local storage of images on my iPhone. This is a key part of the "Apple ecosystem" that is denied to PC users that really annoys me.

  • 1
    You say "denied to PC users" but do you in fact mean Apple didn't devote software engineering dollars to projects where you're not an Apple customer? – bmike Sep 23 '15 at 17:16
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    He is an Apple customer - he owns an iPhone. I'd be willing to bet that there are a huge number of iPhone/iPad owners out there that use Windows and not a Mac for their desktop/laptop. It would be nice to have better iDevice support on Windows. – GiddyUpHorsey Nov 19 '15 at 1:47

iCloud for Windows from Apple allows you to download photos from iCloud Photo Library by year.

Set up and use iCloud Photo Library on your Windows PC:

New photos and videos you add to iCloud Photo Library will automatically download to your PC. You can also download your collection by year when you follow these steps:

  • Open a File Explorer window.
  • Under Favorites, click iCloud Photos.
  • Click Download Photos.
  • Choose the photos and videos you want to download and click Download.
  • Your photos and videos download to the location you set in iCloud Photos Options.

There is no way (unless a special app exists) to download your iCloud Photo Library (not Photo Stream) to a Windows PC without having to use iCloud's Web Interface (icloud.com in web browser) and suffer at the hands of manually downloading your library.


I highly recommend ndbroadbent's fantastic Python program the icloud_photos_downloader project. The project repository can be found at his Github account: https://github.com/ndbroadbent/icloud_photos_downloader.

There are some great instructions on installation and use in the project README. Once installed, you run the program to download all your photos to a directory called foto_folder; from the terminal

./download_photos.py ../foto_folder --username=myemail@email.com --password=myp@ss --size=original --download-videos

And viola, it does its magic. I have also posted this answer here: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/311787/271502

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protected by Community Jan 31 '17 at 0:45

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