I am trying to set up my half's iPhone and Mac in a way that the photos are synced to the Mac automatically over the WiFi, at the same time free up space once it becomes full as it's only the 16GB model.
I thought iCloud Photo Library would do the trick but when I enable it on the Mac it wants to upload the entire existing photo library from the Mac first.
I just want it to go one way, iPhone -> iCloud -> Mac, is it possible to set it up this way?
If not possible can I create a second photo library that is blank on the Mac and contains just the iPhone photos? I would rather not but if this is the only way.

Could/should this be handled by iTunes instead? Can it be used, last time I owned an iPhone it handled this but it looks like it's shifted responsibility to iCloud/Photos, is that correct?

Backup is handled by Time Machine on the Mac and the Photo app is used for viewing/managing photos.

  • iCloud Photo Library is a syncing solution. This means it will take as much storage on the devices connected to it as it does in the cloud. If you only want 1-way syncing, you need to use a different solution.
    – fsb
    Mar 20, 2017 at 12:52
  • Storage space on the device isn't an issue, I just want to sync photos from the iPhone to the Mac. What I don't want is for all the photos on the Mac to be uploaded. This seems like a feature that should just be there, sync my photos to my computer when I get home and connected to the wifi, I'm happy to avoid the whole cloud thing if possible, it's just that everything seems to point to you must you must use the cloud if you want any sort of wireless sync/transfer - without adding additional applications. Am I barking up the wrong tree?
    – LogicTom
    Mar 20, 2017 at 23:13
  • I think you are if you're looking to iCloud to do this, it's an all-or-nothing photo syncing solution. You might be able to do this manually by connecting your computer to your iPhone and copying the photos (I've haven't used it like that), but you stated you want to do this over wifi. I don't know of any solution that does what you want but others here might know.
    – fsb
    Mar 21, 2017 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


In general settings of your iPhone you can set Optimize iPhone storage and if your iPhone is low on space, full resolution photos and videos are automatically replaced with optimized versions. But all full resolution versions are stored in iCloud.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .