How To Upload Photos to iCloud From a PC

Lots of people these days mix and match their operating systems, including services such as iCloud which was originally just for Apple product users. Every OS and platform has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and who can blame us for wanting the best of all possible worlds? There’s nothing wrong with using a Mac for one thing and a PC for another. However, sometimes the interoperability between these platforms isn’t everything we could hope for. Most apps and programs have Windows or Apple versions or use browser compatibility to work on both, but a lot of programs do need a little bit of tweaking though.

How To Upload Photos to iCloud From a PC

Though many people associate iCloud with Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, in this article I’m going to show you how to upload photos to iCloud using (gasp!) a Windows PC.

The iCloud Photo Library is a great tool and ranks right up there with OneDrive and Google Drive. If you have an iOS device such as an iPhone or iPad, or a Mac, and want to view or edit images taken on those devices on your PC, you can do just that with a little configuration.

To upload photos to iCloud from a PC you can use either the iCloud app for Windows or iTunes. I’ll show you both methods.

Upload photos to iCloud from a PC

First, I’ll show you how to use the iCloud app, as lots of people don’t have or want iTunes on their PC. You will need to be logged into iTunes with your Apple ID on your iOS device for this to work.

  1. First, Download and install iCloud for Windows
  2. Open the app and select Options
  3. Select iCloud Photo Library and then click Done
  4. Click Apply to set your preferences
  5. Enable iCloud Photo Library on your iOS devices to sync between them

When you’re in options, you also have the option to sync your Photo Stream, download new images to your PC, upload new images from your PC and to share images. You can pick or choose which options to enable depending on your needs. As long as iCloud Photo Library is checked, you can upload or download images manually to and from a PC.

Now everything is set up, you can upload photos to iCloud in Windows.

  1. Open Windows Explorer
  2. Select iCloud Photos
  3. Then select Upload photos
  4. Select the images you want to upload then select Open

You can also drag and drop images to the Uploads folder. This is more useful and efficient when uploading multiple images as you can select them all at once and upload them.

You can also download images from iCloud to edit or view on your PC following these instructions:

  1. Open Windows Explorer
  2. Select iCloud Photos and then select Download
  3. Select the images you want to download and select Download

Upload photos to iCloud from a PC using iTunes

If you don’t mind having iTunes installed on your PC you can also use that to upload photos to iCloud from a PC. Since iTunes is a useful application there’s no real downside to having it installed on your PC. Follow these instructions for uploading photos to iCloud from a PC using iTunes:

  1. Download and install iTunes for Windows. There is both a 32-bit and a 64-bit downloader so choose whatever matches your PC
  2. Create an iTunes account if you don’t already have one or sign in using your Apple ID
  3. Connect your iOS device to your PC using USB and let iTunes detect it or select iPhone in the main iTunes menu
  4. Select “Automatically Backup when this iPhone is connected’ if you like
  5. Select iCloud as the destination
  6. Select Sync Photos by checking the box to automatically transfer photos from your iPhone to iCloud
  7. Select Back Up Now to perform an immediate upload

iTunes isn’t quite as simple to set up as iCloud but if you don’t mind the program, it is a useful way to keep your iPhone synced with your PC. You can, of course, do all this with an iPad too.

How to view iCloud images from a PC

Once you have your photos uploaded to iCloud, it would be useful to know how to view them. You can view them through the Photos app on either your iOS device or the iCloud app.

  1. Open the iCloud app on your PC or visit Sign in if required.
  2. Select the iCloud notification icon on the Windows system tray.
  3. Select the Photos app and browse your images.

If you set your device up to sync, all images will be copied across both devices. You should not normally have to manually copy or download an image yourself. The only exception to this is when you edit an image on one or other of your devices. As iCloud only syncs a single copy, any edits will not be reflected on the other device.

Sync edited images across devices

If you use your Windows PC to edit images, the updated file will not be synced to iCloud if the original already exists there. The same for if you edit an image on your iPhone. It will not be downloaded to your PC, you will have to do that manually.

  1. Open Windows Explorer
  2. Select iCloud Photos and then select Upload photos
  3. Select the images you want to upload and select Open

If you edited on the iPhone and want to download to PC:

  1. Open Windows Explorer
  2. Select iCloud Photos and then select Download
  3. Select the images you want to download and select Download

Delete images in iCloud or PC

You can, of course, delete images but your deletion will not be reflected across all synced devices. You will have to manually delete the image from all devices. You will have to manually delete the image from the Photo app on the PC and can do the same on the iPhone. You can also connect the phone to your PC via USB and use Windows Explorer. Navigate to the DCIM folder and delete the images as you require.

Of the two methods to upload photos to iCloud from a PC, I much prefer to use the iCloud app rather than iTunes. If you want to manage an iDevice too, iTunes works well but if you’re just sharing media, iCloud works well enough. It is lightweight, it doesn’t use many resources, and it doesn’t want to know everything that is going on within your PC the way that iTunes seems to want to. Though originally designed for Apple products, iCloud seems to be genuinely cross-platform compatible.

If you are interested in learning more about iCloud, you might like The Ultimate iCloud Guide!

Do you use any other methods or tips and trips for uploading photos to iCloud from a PC? In your experience, did iCloud work well with a PC? Tell us about it below in the comments!

4 thoughts on “How To Upload Photos to iCloud From a PC”

x3chris1 says:
i set the folder containing the photos on my pc as the upload folder for the icloud. so it seems the photos are now going straight up into the icloud, which i like. but once this is done, i want to delete the photos off of my PC, will that also delete them out of my icloud or will they give me an option?
mike armstrong says:
I’ve had problems dragging and dropping photos from my PC to an album on iCloud. It starts fine but errors out after several minutes and only uploading a few of the 20-30 I selected. I’ve tried a win 7 pc and a newer win 10 pc, both with the same problem.

At this rate it will take me a life time to up load a few thousand pics split between a few dozen folders. If I leave them to automatically upload from the icloud folder on my pc then the few thousand photos will not be organized by album/folder.

DAnderson says:
ME TOO! I just spent 1.5 hours on the phone with two different technicians at Apple Care and they weren’t able to suggest a better way. The other issue I was having is that the Icloud upload folder wasn’t reading my folder/album titles. The technician had no idea and suggested that I might have to create all the albums from scratch in Icloud and move the photo’s over. At the rate I was going it could have been a full time job taking me into 2020! I finally just ended up turning Icloud Photo’s off and synching all my photo’s back to my iphone from my PC.
Mkcuellar says:
Following. Same issue
Lorie says:
I’m sorry to bother you but recently I haven’t been able to upload pics from my PC to Icloud. If I do it through the website (as I previously did), the photo will be put in order of uploading date (and not in chronological order). Using Icloud for Windows (as the Apple support suggested) is even worse. It just uploads 2 or 3 pictures out of say 10, one by one and not all the pics are uploaded. Apple doesn’t have a clue what the problem is. If you have any ideas and you are willing to share it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance, Lorie

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