to commonly asked questions.

iCloud Photo Library

Why aren't my pictures on my computer?

Do you know why my pictures on my phone camera would not be on my computer?

Photos syncing between your phone and computer are a result of iCloud syncing services. Things to consider:

Are you logged into the same AppleID on both devices?
Is iCloud photos turned on in settings on the phone under iCloud?
Is iCloud photos turned on in system preferences on the computer under iCloud?
When the phone battery drops below 50% photo syncing will pause temporarily to preserve life.
The phone on wifi vs. LTE will usually result in faster syncing of photos as well.

Which library is Photos using?

How can I tell which photos library my Photos application is using and where it lives?

You can find out which photos library is in use as well as if it's the system photos library (the one syncing to the cloud) by opening Photos, going to Photos preferences and selecting the General tab.

There you will see the file path to the library Photos is using. Just below that, if the "use as system library" button is greyed out, that means it is the one being used to sync to the cloud. If it is black and clickable, that means it is not currently the system library.

Pointing Photos to your external drive

I opened photos and it appears to be importing the pictures from my phone. It never gave me the option to choose “Media.” Where's my pictures on my external drive?

Sounds like you may not have held down the option key at photos launch maybe. Restart Photos with the Option key held down then it will ask you to pick a library. With the new drive plugged int of course, choose the photos library that lives on McPhail media.

There are two types of photos libraries. The one that is considered the “system library” and any others. The system library is the ONLY library in your user that will sync to the cloud via iCloud. You may have inadvertently created a library that the computer thinks is the system library and is therefore pulling down pics from the cloud that were on your phone. It’s not a major issue at all.

Quit Photos
Restart Photos holding down Option
Select the photos library on the external drive.
After it’s open, go to preferences in Photos and under “General” select “system library”.

Finally, go into your Pictures folder that lives locally on your Mac and remove the automatically created photos library. It may be several gigs by now as some pics will have downloaded from the cloud. Don’t worry about that. The same pics will sync down to the massive library once it’s been blessed as the system library.

Hope everything is looking the way you want. I’m happy to work through any issues if not.

Do I need to increase my iCloud storage when first syncing my devices?

When I'm turning on iCloud photo syncing It is saying I have to buy 9.99 in iCloud storage a month to turn photo and iCloud on—is that what I do to make the transfer? I don't think I have that many pictures.

It is very possible that once all of your devices (iMac, laptop, iPhone) start talking to each other through the cloud, iCloud adds up all the pictures and realizes you have more pictures than space. It then recommends you increase your storage space to combine them all. However, I’ve often seen that iCloud is mistaken about the total number of pictures because people sometimes have the same library in two places. In other words, duplicates. The good news is that while iCloud doesn’t know it yet, it will discover the duplicates during syncing and just keep one of them. Most adults in the 35 and over crowd usually have around 100 gigs or more of photos. Younger people have less because they haven’t lived as long. That being said, most people I work with are in the 200 gig $2.99 a month category (including myself). I doubt you actually have over 200 gigs of pictures. What this all means is that you can turn on the recommended storage upgrade (temporarily) while iCloud sorts everything out, then about a week later, downgrade to the 200 gig plan. That’s most likely where you’ll land. If you can’t downgrade in a week, that means you have A LOT of pictures. Most likely not the case.

Why won't my pictures show up on my computer?

Why are none of my pictures from my phone on my computer? All of 2019 will not go to my computer even if I plug it in to computer. It only imported last four pictures

You're using iCloud photo library so plugging in your phone to your computer will not accomplish a picture transfer. Pictures must first move to the cloud FROM the phone then TO the computer. To ensure that you have iCloud photo library turned on on all your devices, check the following settings:

On your computer(s):

system preferences/icloud/Photos make sure iCloud photos is turned on. You can also check this in the Photos app itself by opening Photos then going to preferences within the photos app.

On your phone:

settings/AppleID/icloud/photos make sure iCloud photos is turned on. I also like to keep "photo stream" on as well.

Leave Photos ON on your computer. It takes time to sync the pictures from the cloud to the Mac. If you would like to see the progress you can always visit, log into your iCloud account and select photos there. You'll see if your recently taken pictures have made it to the cloud yet. The most common thing that happens is that people don't leave Photos open on their computer for enough time for the pictures to sync.

iCloud not syncing pictures completely

The photo folders and albums we set up on my desktop on Friday are there; however, they haven’t transferred to my I Pad or my I Phone. I will send you a screen shot of what shows up on each device. I really need for my professional photos to show up on my mobile devices so I can post them on Instagram.



Thanks for sharing. I've seen this many times before. First, notice the spinning wheel in the very top left corner? This means the syncing process is still underway. iCloud can take its sweet time syncing to the cloud then down to all devices. That being said, it is possible that the syncing has stopped working and needs to be kickstarted. Before doing this however, I'm sure you left the Photos app open on your iMac and syncing has been continuing throughout the last few days although it shouldn't take more than a couple days usually to complete. To check the status of your Photos syncing from your mac go to your Photos preferences and select iCloud. You should see a status bar. That status bar is also available at the very bottom of Photos. To see it there, select "photos" in the left column of the Photos application on your mac and scroll to the very bottom. Photos syncing progress is not available on your iPad or iPhone.

Next, you might want to toggle off then on again the iCloud photos setting on each device. This will send the request for the process to re evaluate the sync status and hopefully kick start the process to continue then complete. To do this, on your iOS devices go to preferences, iCloud, photos then turn off iCloud photos. Next on your iMac, go to the Photos application, preferences, iCloud, then uncheck "iCloud Photo Library". Quit photos, restart photos, recheck iCloud Photo Library on the mac then turn back on the setting on your iPad and iPhone.

Remember that it's best to keep "originals" on your iMac and "optimized" on your iOS devices. Lastly, I like to check "photo stream" as well although it's not required since you are using iCloud. Give that another day or so then let's see how that works.
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