Is there a way I can download my entire iCloud Photo Libary to my windows PC then clear the iCloud Photo Libary to free up space on my iCloud account?
I have spent the past hour researching this and I'm still no further on...
This strategy works at the time of writing using nothing but the PC.
Your iCloud Photos are now un-synced from your PC but all the files will be in the location you chose in step 4.
Apple doesn't have a Photos app for PC, so the easiest way would be to borrow a Mac and log in to a new user and download all the photos to the Mac.
At that point, you can export the entire library to storage that's readable by your PC.
If you only have easy access to an iOS device, then you'll want to look into apps that can ingest all the local versions of the library and upload it to their cloud. Flickr, google, dropbox all come to mind with native apps that want to store all your photos in the cloud. You could try those to see how easy their export from cloud to PC is.
The share sheet on iOS 9 and the Photos app on iOS look like they will save entire albums to DropBox, but you could run into storage issues and have to chunk things a few GB at a time.
If I were to do this, I'd probably use the Workflow app to automate the saving of the files to the location of your choice. It has built in save to iCloud Documents which would work with iCloud software on PC.
Lastly, you could try using iTunes to copy the files to your PC. I don't have a PC to test, but that might be the simplest option if it works.
Yes, as of July 2018, using the iCloud for Windows software, you can download your entire iCloud Photo Library in a single operation using the Download photos and videos feature, which appears as a button in the toolbar of the iCloud Photos folder in Windows Explorer.
From the Apple support article:
- Open a File Explorer window.
- Under Favorites, click iCloud Photos.
- Click Download photos and videos.
- 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.
This feature isn't easy to find, but works as advertised. Note that in Windows 10, you might not see a Favorites folder, but you will see Quick access instead.
To answer the second half of your question, you can delete the complete contents of your iCloud Photo Library directly on your iOS device. Simply open the Photos app, navigate to Albums and open All Photos. From there, press Select, and using a diagonal motion, select all of the images at once. You might need to try a few times to accomplish this as the gesture is tricky to pull off. Once you've selected all of the photos, press the Trash can to remove the photos from your library.