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Following the update to iOS 10.3.1, my phone warned me (unnecessarily as it turned out) that I had too little space to store all my photos at full resolution, and suggested that I switch to "optimized" storage (which for those unfamiliar with the feature stores a uselessly blurry simulacrum of the original only), which I foolishly did.

enter image description here

I immediately realized my mistake, and restored the "Download and Keep Originals" setting. But this appears to have had no effect. I still see only the placeholders, until I click on an individual photo and wait for it to download.

So the question is: what does "Download" mean? Does it mean

  1. download all photos automatically (e.g., in the background over time) or
  2. download a photo only when it is viewed?

If the answer is 2, is there a way to force all my photos to sync at full resolution to my iPhone without clicking on each individual photo (which would take about a month of continuous clicking, with no breaks for sleeping)?

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To downloads all photos, Download and keep originals will retrieve all images from the cloud and save them to your phone. Optimize storage will only download when photos are viewed and/or are needed by an application.

It may require you to plug your phone in, connect it to Wi-Fi and wait for a bit for all of the photos to download, as you said there are quite a few. It may help to have Photos open beforehand too.

Source: Experience & Apple Support documentation.

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    My experience has also been that you need to leave your iPhone plugged in on Wi-Fi for the download to start. It may help to have Photos open beforehand too. – user11633 Apr 23 '17 at 13:27
  • So: the answer is 1? – orome Apr 23 '17 at 20:47
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    @Phong: Ah, maybe that's why it seems to not be happening! – orome Apr 23 '17 at 20:47
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In some cases waiting does not help (there are multiple threads about it on apple forum. )

What worked for me to force downloads was to select as many pictures as I could and choose to share them (for instance via AirDrop). That required iPhone to download originals which I later synced via photos (sharing won't work with live photos)

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It does work in the background and can take some time. If you turn off icloud for photos and get a message warning you that x number of photos are still not downloded, then you know it’s still downloading them. Cancel and check again later....

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