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How Do I Move iPhone Photos To External Hard Drive?

Although I have iCloud storage it is my understanding that if I delete photos off of my phone that they go bye bye in my iCloud storage that I am paying for.

Assuming that this is true, I want to move my photos and videos to my Seagate external hard drive and also ensure that they are not in “optimized mode” and that they are the full picture resolution – whether it is 3.4MB or 950kb.

How do I do this?
Steve Wilson

Comments: 4 Responses to “How Do I Move iPhone Photos To External Hard Drive?”

    3 years ago

    Yes. Using a Cloud service like iCloud Photos means that the library is the library on all of your devices. Deleting a photo means it is deleted everywhere. But this is what you want — to have all of your photos everywhere. That’s the beauty of it. You can set your iPhone to store optimized versions so they load as needed instead of all being there and taking up space.
    Now, if you really want to put your Photos library on an external drive attached to your Mac (permanently attached), you can do it. This is tricky. I recommend keeping them on your internal drive unless you really are running short on drive space.
    First, quit Photos. Then backup your library to another location. Make sure your Time Machine backup is up-to-date too.
    Next, move your entire Library file from your internal drive to your external one. You do this with drag and drop, but hold Option to move instead of copy to the external drive location.
    Then start Photos again, but hold the Option key down while doing it. This brings up a special window that lets you set the library. Then choose the new location of the library to open.
    Next, go to Photos, Preferences. Then General. Then click the button that sets this library as your System Photos Library.
    After that, I’m not sure if iCloud will figure it out, or have to re-sync everything.
    Next, go to Photos, Preferences, iCloud. Set “Download Originals to this Mac.” This means that every photo in your iCloud Photo Library will also be in the Photos library on your Mac.

    Steve Wilson
    3 years ago

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you! Like many others (I think) we have viewed iCloud as a storage solution… I know I did before truly learning that it is designed to be a shared service. For me, it is 100% about storage. I have 14,817 photos and video all from my iPhone and I am nearly maxed out on the iCloud 200GB storage. This is truly iPhone only and Photos only. I feel as defeated and angry at Apple as I ever have been because I feel held hostage by my own family memories.

    3 years ago

    One point of confusion with you response. If Ininterpreted you correctly, there is a unique iCloud “library” also hidden like the photos library? That doesn’t seem to make sense as all of the photos I’m referring to are either on my phone or in iCloud

    3 years ago

    Steve: Yes, iCloud is about having all of your data shared between all of your devices and online. The idea behind the “cloud” is that you don’t worry about “where” the data is — it is just everywhere.
    If you would rather not use it, then just store your photos on your Mac (and backup).

    Usually there is only one Photo Library on your Mac, and it is your “system library” — which makes it the local location of your iCloud Photo Library. It isn’t hidden, it IS the Photo Library.

    The reason you would have a second library is if you want a second library that is non-iCloud. For instance, someone may have a work library that is just for work projects and they use iCloud Photo Library for their personal photos.

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