I am running out of space on my 16 GB iphone 6 (shocker.)

I have about 400 family photos that i've taken, and added to a shared album. All of these photos are stored locally on my iPhone.

If i remove any of those photos from my phone to free up space, are they also removed from the shared album? (that would be bad.)

More generally: what are the semantics of shared photos? are they copies? symlinks?


  • General>Icloud>Photos
    • ICloud photo library is on
    • optimize phone storage is checked
    • upload to my photo stream is on
    • icloud photo sharing is on.

I have backups and syncs to my macbook on a fairly routine basis, and i'm also using google photos specifically for photo backup independent of any of the above settings.

  • If by "stored locally" you mean they're both in the shared album and in your camera roll, then removing them from your camera roll won't remove them from the shared album. It will, however, remove them from iCloud Photo Library. There's no way to further reduce the amount of space taken by photos in your camera roll, beyond using ICL and ensuring Optimize Phone Storage is turned on.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 18:15
  • okay. As long as the other subscribers to that shared album won't lose access to those photos when I delete them, and as long as there are no conflicts with google photos, i think that's all i needed to know.
    – gvoysey
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 18:27
  • I missed the bit about Google Photos. I believe that if you delete them using Photos.app (not Google Photos) they will stay in Google Photos in the cloud, with thumbnails still visible in the Google Photos app. I'm not positive about that, though. This might help with that.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 18:30
  • I am confident that google photos behaves that way, yes. Google photos has a "free up space" feature, which i believe is analogous to deleting photos inside Photos.app.
    – gvoysey
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 18:35
  • I don't use the app. I just seem to remember somebody freaking out because deleting photos from the phone deleted the "backup" from Google Photos too, but they might have used the GP app to delete them.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 18:36

2 Answers 2


Removing photos from your Camera Roll will not remove them from Shared Albums. It will, however, remove them from iCloud Photo Library, both in iCloud itself and all of your devices.

If you have iCloud Photo Library turned on and the Optimize Phone Storage setting enabled, there's no way to further reduce the amount of storage taken by photos in your camera roll other than simply deleting them (again, subject to the caveat in the first paragraph).

Deleting photos using Photos.app should not affect their storage in the Google Photos cloud. (Deleting them with Google Photos will cause them to be removed from the Google Photos cloud.)

  • 1
    what is ICL....? Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 17:28
  • 1
    iCloud Photo Library.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 4:17

As tubedogg pointed out, the photos removed from Icloud Photo Library will still be available from the shared albums (because they are copies) BUT be aware that shared copies are scaled down to a resolution of 2048px on the long edge (5400 px for panoramic photos).

So if you share a 20 megapixel photo via Icloud Photo Sharing, the shared photo will be something like 3,5 MP (generally, not related to the deletion).

See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202786 for more on these limitations.

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