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How Do I Delete Photo Library From My Mac Without Deleting From iCloud Photos?

In short, I want to delete my photo library from my Mac without deleting anything from iCloud photos.

For a few years I only used my phone for my photos, but had “My Photo Stream” activated on both my phone and my Mac. That means that a lot of junk accumulated on my Mac that I never got around to deleting. A few months ago I enabled iCloud Photos on my phone, but I purposefully kept it disabled on my computer so my iCloud wouldn’t get all the trash on my computer.

I am tired of not being able to see all my photos on my computer, so now I don’t know what to do. I think that maybe the best solution for this would be to delete the whole photo library currently on my computer, since deleting photos one by one would take an eternity (there’s 13,000+). However, I am afraid that as soon as I turn iCloud Photos on on my computer all of my photos in iCloud will also be deleted. And even if I decided to delete the pictures I don’t want one by one, I am afraid that the ones I don’t delete will be duplicated on iCloud. What would you suggest I do? I already tried Apple Support and they couldn’t give me an answer.
Guillermo Castillón

Comments: 3 Responses to “How Do I Delete Photo Library From My Mac Without Deleting From iCloud Photos?”

    3 years ago

    So your Mac has iCloud Photos OFF right now, correct? Here's how to do it if you don't want to use ANY photos from your Mac, just the ones you have on iCloud.

    So first rename the Photos library on your Mac, which is probably in your Pictures folder. Quit the Photos app. Call the old library "Old Photos Library" or something.

    Now launch Photos with the Option key held down. You'll get a Choose Library prompt. Click Create New... Now create your new empty library. Call it "Photos Library.photoslibrary"and place it in your /Users/youraccount/Pictures folder. You've got a nice empty library now.

    Now go to Photos, Preferences, General. Click "Use as System Photo Library." If it is grayed out, then it already is.

    Now go to the iCloud section and turn on iCloud Photos. This will start the process of downloading all of your photos from iCloud to your Mac. When it is done (hours? overnight?) your iPhone and Mac will be in sync.

    You can always hold Option and launch Photos to choose the old library again if you need to access anything there. You can export from it and photos you want to bring to iCloud. Then switch back to your new system library and import those photos into it.

    I hope that helps. It isn't the way I would do it though. I would simply keep your existing library and turn on iCloud. Then go through it to remove duplicates. 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, over the course of days and weeks and everything will be neat and tidy and you'll have fun looking at your old photos in the meantime.

    2 years ago

    I want to delete a photo on my iMac mini.
    If I do this it also deletes it from all other devices, including from a file. I just want to delete a photo but keep it everywhere else. Is this possible.thank you

    2 years ago

    Russell: If you are using iCloud Photos, then your photos are in a library shared by all of your devices. Deleting it from this shared library will mean it is deleted everywhere because it is really only in ONE location, your shared library. Not sure I understand your goal here. Why would you want a photo on all of your devices except one?

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