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How to delete photos and videos on a iPhone or iPad Photo Gallery but still view

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If you have been searching on the issue of deleting photographs from your Apple iPhone or iPad but keep the photographs or videos on iCloud there is a solution. You may have read the following discussion on the Apple Forum:

Can I delete photos off my iPhone To free up capacity but keep the on iCloud and my iPad ?

The solution does not require iCloud.

I came across this issue of iCloud deleting images deleted from the iPhone while visiting a good friend in Edinburgh. A iPhone user and a keeper of many pictures. Her phone had reached capacity, so much so that she could not update her iOS. As well as needing to free up space on her iPhone she also wanted to view the pictures on her computer and view them as a slideshow when the screensaver was active. The solution to her issue and needs could be meet by iCloud I thought. Backup photographs to iCloud and install iCloud on her PC and have them synced to a drive on the computer where Screensaver can access them. Once all the images had been sync’ed to Apple iCLoud then delete them on the iPhone Photo Gallery and view on them online on iCloud.
There is a an issue with this though. When you delete the picture on your iOS (iPhone/iPad) device it deletes the picture on iCLoud. As the iOS device is synced with iCloud not backed up. Deleting a image on a Android devices Photo Album does not delete the image. As the backup is keep on Google servers. So I thought this must be the case for iCloud. Nope when you delete a image on a iOS (iPhone/iPad) device the image is also deleted from iCloud. You can set your iOS device to Optimise Storage as detailed here:

How to free up storage space on your iPhone or iPad with iCloud Photo Library

The image and video files on the iPhone have the size of the file reduced by algorithm. Which is fine, as the screen is small on an iPad and iPhone so images will look good. Eventually though the iPhone’s or iPad’s memory capacity will be reached. So this does not resolve the issue just delays the day for when your iPhone or iPad reaches capacity.

There is a solution to the issue of being able to keep your photos and view them on your phone but not have the photos use up the smartphone’s memory capacity. Google announced Google Photos at the end of May 2015. Google Photos provides a service where you can have unlimited storage of photographs and video for a lifetime.

Google Director of Photos Anil Sabharwal announces Google Photos

Google Photos unlimited high quality photos and videos announced at IO 2015

You can watch the announcement here:

Google Director of Photos Anil Sabharwal announces Google Photos

Google Photos is available cross platform Web, Mac, Windows, Android and Apple iOS (iPad/iPhone).

As with the Android App Google Photos iOS App once installed will upload, backup, photographs and videos on your iPhone or iPad Photo Gallery to Google Photos service. Then you can delete the photographs and videos on your iPhone iPad Photo Gallery but still view them from the Google Photos App on the tablet or smartphone. Unwanted images and videos can be deleted from Google Photos. The syncing is automatic and is almost instant.

Photographs can viewed on a PC by visiting the website or by downloading and then installing the Desktop Downloader for Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac.

Google Photos App for iOS Android Windows Mac PC

The Desktop Downloader enables photographs to be uploaded to Google Photos from the PC’s hard drive/memory stick or attached digital camera. All the images stored on Google Photos even those not taken by your smartphone or tablet. One central depository for all your visual memories.

Find out more about Google Photos on your PC: Backup photos from your computer

The real power of Google Photos is that it is not just a means of storing your photographs but by being able to retrieve images by using Google search technology. Using normal language pictures can be found without laboriously flipping threw months and years of images. Search for”blue skies”  for example and all the pictures taken with a blue sky will be displayed.


The other feature of Google Photos is that Google will assist with putting together your photos and videos into a storyline: day trips, special events or holidays. Work magic on your best pictures and make them awesome. Stitch together images to make panoramic epic pictures. Successive images taken in a row turned into time lapse video or animated image. All done by your photographic assistant.

By installing Google Photos on your iPhone or iPad and of course a Android Smartphone or Tablet you can keep all your photographs and videos for ever not having to worry about your online storage bill getting larger as the years pass  and you take more and more images. So forget iCloud for picture storage and install Google Photo on your iPhone or iPad.

  1. I take a photo. It appears in Google photos. I delete from ios photos. Its gone from Google. Dont get it!

    • If you take a photograph and then open the Google Photos App and choose Assistant from the menu do you see the message “Backing up Photos” or “Backup complete”?

      After a photo has been taken it needs to be synced (uploaded) to Google. The Google Photo App needs to be open and running for this to be happen. The photo will appear in the Google Photos App but if it has circular arrow bottom right it has still be uploaded to Google. Deleting it before it has been synced will mean it will not be backed up on Google Photos.

      It can take a few hours to complete the sync when you first install Google Photos on your device.

      What was the message you got when deleting the photo?

  2. My photos are not syncing. Do I have to do that on computer or can they sync from my phone
    There’s 10k of them. I want to clear up space in my phone
    Set up a Google photos account and I don’t want to turn off iCloud till they are backed up. What do I do to get this ball rolling

    • So you have installed the App and logged in with your gmail account to start the process?

      Photographs that are still to be synced have a circle arrow in the bottom corner of the image. Keep the App open until all the circle arrows have disappeared.

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