I have photos on my iPhone in Photos.app and on my Mac in Photos.app as well.

How can I remove all photos from my iPhone without losing photos in Photos.app in my Mac?

I understand that all is in iCloud and photos are seen on all devices, and that's great, but if I need more space on my iPhone, can't I trust that my photos in PHOTOS on my mac are safe, and just delete the ones on the phone?

This has been asked before, but there are no clear answers.


Have to be careful here. After making sure that all the photos are in iCloud Photo Library, you don’t delete them from the iPhone. Instead, you disable iCloud Photo Library and let the system remove them (it may take awhile depending on the number of photos and videos).

New photos can be added to iPL via your Mac either by manually syncing through Photos or Image Capture, (for photos) using PhotoStream or another 3rd party program like PhotoSync. Or you can re-enable iPL with “optimized” set. I’ve got 14K items (with s few weeks of full-size photos and videos) and I’m only using 1.78GB.

That said, I’ve seen some funky issues in the past where the system doesn’t remove some of the items when I disabled iPL. I tried manually deleting them but, when I re-enabled iPL, the deleted items were all deleted from iCL. I got them back from the Recently Deleted album but I had a few minutes of panic until I remembered they should be there.

I was just trying to force the iPhone to replace the current copies with optimized items to save space. I think doing this is actually to backup and restore your iPhone using an iCloud Backup.


Assuming the photos in question have been imported into your Photos library on the Mac, then those files are stored within that library. Removing them from your iPhone will have no impact whatsoever.

However, if you're referring to photos that haven't actually been imported to your Photos library on the MBP, then you may run into problems (depending on how you've got things set up).

If you want to be 100% certain, open the Photos app on your MBP and then connect your iPhone to your MBP via USB. You should be prompted to import any photos you haven't already imported. Go through the process until it's finished importing everything.


  • This may take some time if you haven't done it in a while and/or if you also have a lot of videos (as these are imported as well).
  • In case you don't already, you should have a backup regime in place (such as using Time Machine). This is the only way to protect yourself against unexpected data loss.

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