I have a subscription to the 50GB iCloud Photos. It contains 50GB of my photos. I hope to back up these photos to my Windows laptop. I've downloaded iCloud for Windows and synced the photos from iCloud Photos to my Windows laptop. However, I notice a big discrepancy between the total size of the photos I downloaded and the total size of the photos on iCloud (32GB on my Windows laptop vs 50GB on iCloud). I contacted Apple Customer Support and reached a very arrogant rep. He told me that there's no way to backup the full resolution version to a PC. I need to buy a Mac to do that. Is that a nefarious sticky feature Apple uses to keep people on its ecosystem?

  • 17
    Report the Rep if you were unhappy with them.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 1, 2021 at 16:56
  • 2
    @benwiggy do you know of an effective way to report an Apple rep? I’ve searched online, but the best method I found is to call Customer Service and ask to speak to a manager. I don't know what Apple will do to the rep...
    – jeffrey
    Aug 2, 2021 at 12:58
  • I normally get a survey via email after any interaction with Apple personnel.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 2, 2021 at 14:18
  • 2
    @benwiggy I've filled out the survey. But just feel like Apple's not going to do anything about it :(
    – jeffrey
    Aug 2, 2021 at 14:33
  • Well, if nothing else, it's good to have a vent! I believe the support guys are graded on their customer responses, so it may affect their performance pay or promotion prospects.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 2, 2021 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


The iCloud for Windows app downloads the ‘most compatible’ version of the photo, which is a compressed JPEG capped to roughly 4 MP, as Windows does not by default support HEIF.

You can download the original quality from iCloud.com/photos as HEIF, by selecting some photos and choosing the down arrow at the bottom-right of the download button and choosing Unmodified Original.

Get HEIF Image Extensions by Microsoft on the Windows Store to view HEIC photos and HEVC video on Windows 10.

macOS Photos app always uses the original quality with macOS built-in support for HEIF.

  • 3
    Thank you for your input. When I log into my iCloud Photos, I don’t have a drop down to choose for unmodified original. Once I click the download icon, I get the photos in a zip file
    – jeffrey
    Aug 1, 2021 at 18:05
  • 2
    I've hovered, but no arrow or drop-down menu appears..
    – jeffrey
    Aug 1, 2021 at 19:44
  • 4
    Which browser are each of you two using? In any case, it seems that Apple doesn't make it as easy to get the full quality images downloaded to Windows, but it's not due to any nefarious marketing reasons, but simply because Windows does not natively support the file format. Aug 2, 2021 at 5:04
  • 15
    The down arrow is really subtle and may be covered by the cursor and/or tooltip with some mouse positions. It's not the best design and is incredibly easy to miss. Aug 2, 2021 at 6:26
  • 3
    @ZachLipton Thank you Zach! I found the tiny arrow :)
    – jeffrey
    Aug 2, 2021 at 14:32

and there's this HEIC to JPEG converter from iMazing to get those 50 GB of photos to the right format.

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