I've recently upgraded from Yosemite to Catalina and therefore was forced to switch from iPhoto to Photos. One thing I was hoping to take advantage of in Photos is the ability to sync with iCloud. However my old iPhoto library that has now been brought into Photos is too big to fit in my iCloud account. I pay for the 200Gb iCloud storage but my library is 500Gb and I don't want to upgrade to the 2Tb version to fit files that I don't need stored in iCloud. Instead, I want to just tell Photos/iCloud to only sync photos that are newer than, say, 2019. Or only sync the most recent 50Gb. But the only way I've been able to figure out how to do that is to manually split out my Photos Library into a sort of archive library and a sync'ed "System Library" and continually manage that split by moving photos from one to the other (which I'm not even sure of the best way to do).

I've done extensive Googling on library management and haven't found any good guides for how to manage large libraries in conjunction with iCloud. There was one question here on Ask Different from 7 years ago that was very similar but didn't have an answer other than manage separately libraries and I'm hoping there is better/newer information out there.

So does anyone have a trick about how to manage what iCloud syncs? Failing that, are there better suggestions for how to manage a large Photos library to make it so some of it can sync and some of it doesn't? And I need to manage two Photos libraries with one for not-syncing and one for syncing, what's the best way to move photos between the two Photos libraries?

1 Answer 1


You cannot selectively sync within a photo library.

If you want to remain on your current 200GB tier, you will have to find a method of archival to remove photos from your library.

One approach could be to use a new photo library for every year. At the end of the year, ensure it's fully downloaded and disconnect it from iCloud. Reset your iCloud photos and make a new library.

However, for reasons that should be apparent, this won't be a seamless process. I'm not aware of any seamless process that allows what you're looking for.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer. I was hoping other people might have some other creative solutions to offer to I'm going to hold off in choosing this as the accepted answer.
    – ktbos
    Nov 23, 2022 at 19:54

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