How to download photos from iCloud

iCloud is a lifesaver for the millions of selfie-taking iPhone users around the world. Just having iCloud Photo Library enabled means you can snap to your heart’s content without having to choose between your iPhone’s limited storage and your personal memories. But what happens when you want to download those photos from iCloud and save them to your computer? Or what if you plan on switching to an Android device and need to bring your photos out of iCloud and the iOS ecosystem?

Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t made it the most straightforward thing to do, especially if you use a Windows machine. Thankfully, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you easily pull your photos out of iCloud, and onto your computer or external hard-drive.

How to download photos from iCloud using a PC


  1. On your PC, navigate to Apple’s ‘iCloud for Windows’ download page and click on the ‘Download’ button.
  2. Accept the license agreement when the setup launches and click ‘Install’.
  3. After iCloud for Windows finishes installing, click ‘Finish’ and restart your computer.
  4. Launch iCloud for Windows and enter in your Apple ID and password.
  5. Select ‘Options’ in the Photos tab and check the box next to iCloud Photo Library. Now click ‘Apply’.

Now that you’ve done that, you’ll need to open the iCloud Photo Library program on your computer.

  1. Once iCloud Photo Library is opened, click ‘Download Photos and Videos’.
  2. There will be a range of checkboxes. Check the right boxes depending on what photos you want to download. ‘All’ will download all of the photos stored in iCloud, and checking specific years like ‘2018’, will just save the iCloud photos from that year. 
  3. Once selected, click the ‘Download’ button.
  4. Your iCloud photos will begin to download to your computer. This can take a while depending on how many you have.

How to download photos from iCloud using your Mac


If you have a Mac, you’re in luck: things are a lot simpler.

  1. Open the Photos application and then click ‘Photos’. 
  2. Click ‘Preferences’ and then click ‘iCloud’.
  3. If it’s not already enabled, select ‘Download originals to this Mac’.
  4. Once done, navigate to ‘Photos’ in the Photos application again and press Command + A to select all the photos. 
  5. Click File > Export.
  6. Select either ‘Export items’, or ‘Export unmodified original’. ‘Export items’ will export any photos saved to iCloud that you have edited. 
  7. Click ‘Export’.

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