How to Download Photos from iCloud to Mac or Windows PC the Easy Way

May 26, 2016 - 105 Comments

How to download photos from iCloud

One of the most common questions regarding using iCloud and iCloud Photo Library is how to download photos from iCloud once they have been stored there. This is a deceptively simple question, and we’re going to push aside any of the complexities of downloading pictures from iCloud Photo Library within Photos app on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, and instead we’ll show you the single most direct method of downloading a picture from iCloud to a computer, since that is usually what people are looking to do.

We’ll also show you how to download all photos from iCloud, as well as single pictures or just a group of selected photos.

You have a photo on iCloud, and you want to download that photo your Mac or PC – simple, right? Yes, but it’s done a bit different than you may expect, as we’ll show in the walkthrough here.

How to Download Photos from iCloud to Mac OS X or Windows PC

Have a picture or several photos stored in iCloud and you want the raw file downloaded locally on any Mac, Windows PC, or other device? Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Open a web browser and go to iCloud.com and login with your Apple ID as usual
  2. Login to the iCloud website

  3. Click on the “Photos” icon once you are logged in to the iCloud website
  4. Choose Photos on the iCloud website

  5. Click to select a photo you want to download
  6. Choose the photo you want to download from iCloud

  7. When the picture is loaded on screen, look in the upper right corner of the web browser window for a little download icon, it looks like a cloud with an arrow coming out of the bottom of it – click that to download the photo from iCloud to the computer
  8. Download the photo from iCloud

  9. Repeat as necessary for other photos you wish to download from iCloud

And there you have it, look where your web browser defaults to downloading pictures and you’ll find your photo (or photos) in their original resolution there, this is typically the user Downloads folder. In our example, it’s a picture of the Grand Canyon:

An example photo downloaded from iCloud

That’s how you download photos from iCloud.com onto a computer or device. This works the same with any web browser, so it doesn’t matter if you’re on a Mac or Windows PC, Android, or Linux, you’ll be able to download the pictures from iCloud this way. This is great for the obvious reasons of cross platform access, but it’s also nice for gaining access to a high res picture from another computer or device too.

How can I download ALL pictures from iCloud?

Now, I know what you’re thinking; how can you download all of your pictures from iCloud? And why isn’t there a “download all” button on iCloud Photos? And why can’t we access iCloud Photos through iCloud Drive and copy them like you would from Dropbox on a computer? Those are great questions and certainly worthy feature requests for future versions of iCloud and iCloud Photo management, but what we just outlined above is what is currently available (outside of Photos and iCloud Photo Library anyway), so for now you have to manually download the pictures if you want to get them from iCloud Photos on the web. Hopefully a future version of the iCloud website will offer easy bulk downloading, and maybe even we’ll get comparable features in the Photos apps in Mac OS X and iPhone too.

Here is how you can download ALL photos from iCloud to Mac or PC:

  1. Go to iCloud.com and login as usual, and then go to “Photos” as usual
  2. Choose the “All Photos” album
  3. Scroll to the very bottom of the All Photos album and click the “Select Photos” button in the top of the iCloud Photos bar
  4. Hold down the Shift key and click on the very last picture in the album, this should select every photo in the All Photos album as will be signified by the iCloud Photos bar saying “WXYZ items selected”
  5. Now with all of the photos selected in iCloud Photos, choose the blue “Download” button at the top of the iCloud Photos bar
  6. Confirm that you want to download all of the selected photos (this can be hundreds, or thousands) and click on “Download”

Download All Photos to iCloud

This downloads the number of pictures through the browser, just like downloading any other file. This means the photos will likely end up in your Downloads folder, unless you specify downloads to go elsewhere.

Unfortunately there is no “Select All” button or “Download All” button in iCloud Photos on the web currently, but you can use the shift+click trick to select all of the photos yourself. That is the only way to download all photos from iCloud currently, so it requires a little bit of manual effort but it works.

There are other ways of downloading full resolution pictures from iCloud of course as well, but they require the usage of the iCloud Photo Library feature as well as Photos apps in either Mac OS X or iOS, which puts them off limits to Windows users or from Windows based access. And yes, iCloud Photo Library is supposed to automatically manage and handle photos if you use the service, it will upload them to iCloud, and then download them on demand if requested – but for those who have a large library of pictures or less than stellar internet access, it can be cumbersome or even unreliable. Furthermore, the feature can lead to excess data usage both with a broadband connection and your local device storage, and there are some other curious aspects that can make the feature challenging to use for some specific user situations (for me personally, I like direct file access to my photos in their original format without having to rely on downloading the original, maybe I am old fashioned in that regard).

What about downloading pictures from iCloud backups or iTunes backups?

As you may know, iCloud backups are separate from iCloud Photo Library. If you backup an iPhone or iPad to iCloud, you may like to have direct access to those pictures, but that’s not how iCloud backups work. Instead, they arrive as a complete backup package of the entire device. Thus, you can also get photos out of iCloud and iTunes backups made from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, but it requires either restoring a device with that backup in question in the case of iCloud, or the usage of a third party tool if the backup was made with iTunes. You can learn more about recovering photos from iPhone backups here if you’re interested, but it’s quite a different process from the method outlined above about simply downloading pictures from iCloud.com on the web.

Downloading photos from iCloud to a computer

Do you know of another easy way to download photos from iCloud? Maybe you know of a method to bulk download all your pictures, or a group of pictures, in their original format and size, from iCloud to a computer? Let us know your iCloud photo tricks in the comments!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Tips & Tricks

105 Comments

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  1. Jamie and The Fiddlesticks says:

    Good tip. You can select multiple photos and download them together from iCloud, but yes it would be nice if there was a download all button, or an ability to download photos as a zip archive from iCloud for date ranges, etc.

    iCloud Photo Library is not something I have ever understood but I think I am not the user it is intended for. I don’t know really know who is. I think it uploads your pictures, and stores a thumbnail locally but then you can get a higher resolution picture by downloading it from Photos app in iOS and Mac. But then if you delete a picture, it deletes from iCloud completely, so you can’t free up disk space this way, and iCloud does not permanently serve as a photo repository. It would be nice if you could just take a picture on your iPhone and know it was stored in iCloud to access anytime you wanted it. Also it would be nice to not shovel over $10 per month for the iCloud.

    I agree with your point about internet speed too, iCloud Photo Library was clearly designed for Cupertino and major global hubs where Comcast and Google Fiber are the norm. Out here in the rest of the USA we have surprisingly tight bandwidth caps and slow DSL, there is no great high speed internet available in my city, so the thought of relying on broadband to access my pictures or anything else reliably or quickly is just out of the question.

    Finally if you use iCloud Drive like DropBox and create your own folder up there, and upload your pictures manually as files, it would work like that, but it would not be accessible from Photos apps in iOS or Mac, it would only be accessible from iCloud Drive.

    • Jeff Archer says:

      I think the point you are making is that you want to access the photos from within your iCloud backups from iCloud.com or through iCloud Drive, is that right? That sounds interesting, but the backups are not meant to be used that way right now.

  2. Jeff Archer says:

    You forgot the other big caveat with iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Photos — it is not supported by earlier versions of Mac OS X or iOS.

    My Mac has Mavericks runs perfect so why mess with it? No iCloud for me

    My iPad has iOS 6 and runs OK so no iCloud Photos on that either

    I support Macs on Snow Leopard still as well as Windows computers. Not to mention Android.

    All of these situations mean that if you want to get pictures from iCloud you go to the iCloud.com website as you describe here, as there are no other options. That is why Apple should allow batch downloads of iCloud pictures from iCloud.com. It would be a good feature!

  3. Jeff Archer says:

    One final point, to have photos access on iCloud.com you have to enable iCloud Photo Library from somewhere, usually from an iPhone if you’re like me and have a Maverick Mac.

  4. Dina says:

    So far so good, but all of my pictures are in my Mac already.
    If I delete a photo from Photos, it is removed also from iCloud so. what’s the use re-download again a photo?

    • Paul says:

      This is really most useful if you are on a device that isn’t using iCloud Photo Library but still want to download pictures from iCloud. For example, you’re visiting family and using their computer, you can log in to iCloud.com and download a few photos this way.

      The other big perk is that it’s cross platform, you can use it on any version of any system software that has a web browser.

  5. Paul Minz says:

    Good article, but not being a fan of a computer terminal and a “server” in the Old days. I will still keep all of my own Info and data – On My computers and my own Backup system. Even computers are going, one sort of way, backward with all external peripherals hanging off of a main CPU. the 1980s are returning, Ugh. Modern name for server is cloud. I.E. I would never put my Gems in a neighbors house.

    • Paul says:

      I tend to agree, I like direct access to high resolution pictures and other important files from physical backups. Maybe the ideal solution is to have local physical backups of your data and pictures, and an encrypted online solution with all files accessible online when needed too, assuming you have the high speed internet access to support the latter anyway.

      Much of this is personal preference though, some like cloud-only storage.

    • Brett says:

      I agree. Best option for me is a free wifi photo/file sharing app. Take a picture on my android, iphone, ipad…and it is instantly and automatically transmitted via wifi to my laptop (and or external storage device). So simple! If I take pictures away from home, they backup as soon as I walk in the house. Many apps available and work with both window and mac.

  6. Mac4Me says:

    This is a good article, and perhaps this observation is slightly off target, but by using Photo Stream instead of iCloud Photo Library, all photos from my iOS devices are automatically added to my Photos libraries on both of my computers, and all the photos I import to my computers from my camera (or other sources) are automatically available to my iOS devices in Photo Stream. Of course I backup my computers to a Time Machine disk as well as saving them to an additional external drive.

  7. Clifford says:

    There is another way…
    Since my son was born my wife and me started taking pictures of him at any given opportunity. We both have iPhones so I told her we should share a folder on iCloud and we put all our pictures in one safe place.
    However we wanted a physical back-up… You know… Just in case!
    After trying almost everything I remembered I installed iCloud Photos on my Windows laptop.
    It so happens that all photos in our shared folders are directly downloaded in a folder on my laptop where they are easily accessible and all I need to do is copy and paste the whole folder on an external drive for safekeeping.
    Simple. Automatic. Effective 😊

  8. Draypoke says:

    iCloud Photo Library should “just work” but I saw enough confusion and weird stories on the Apple Discussion Boards of picture libraries disappearing into the ether or high res images seemingly vanished that I never trusted it with my pictures. I hope those problems have been worked out and fixed. Can anyone confirm?

    Apple describes iCloud Photo Library here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204264

    It sounds good if you have broadband, big iCloud 1TB plan, with no data caps on cellular or home networks.

  9. John says:

    Amazon Prime does this (for free as a Prime member) without having to deal with Apple’s Photos app on your Mac, THE MOST inane photo management software ever written.

  10. Serafinamia says:

    I am in despair about iCloud photo storage. I had some 20,000 photos on my Mac, many edited. After updating (stupidly!) to Yosemite, I now have no way to access my photos, which included several major trips and numerous irreplaceable photos.

    Is there anything I can do? As batch downloads are not an option. I’ve been an Apple user for 20 years, but this feels like a total betrayal. My husband his his photos on his Dell laptop and they’re fine.

    • Ragnarok says:

      Where did your pictures go? Are they still visible on iCloud.com? Are they on the Mac? How would they not be unless you removed them? Did you look in Photos app or iPhoto? Did you search the hard drive?

      If you had 20,000 picture files on the Mac, they must still be there unless you deleted them or formatted the Mac. What else is there to this story? I am confused.

  11. juliaw says:

    I had the same disaster as Serafina. my solution was to access a Time Machine backup and restore the iPhoto library. It was a while ago now so I’m not 100% sure but I think Time Machine gave me the option to create a new library rather than replace my new one. I then imported the restored photos into my Photos app. That took ages and I was really annoyed but at least I recovered the missing photos.

    • Ti Do says:

      That sounds like a major flaw with iCloud or Photos, where did the pictures go when they disappeared? Were they on the file system but missing from Photos app? Glad you were able to get them back. Photos are the most valuable thing on most personal computers! iCloud needs work.

  12. Jig says:

    Is there a better way to get all photos from iCloud? I am looking to download all photos and pictures from iCloud to the computer. I hope Apple has this feature.

  13. “You have to manually download the pictures one by one if you want to get them from iCloud Photos on the web… Hopefully a future version of the iCloud website will offer bulk downloading”

    So, according to the author of this article and ‘osxdaily’, if I need to download 10,000 photos from iCloud using a browser on my mac (or even Windows for that matter), I need to manually download them one by one? Like, select a photo ->click download, then select another photo->Click Download and Continue this 10,000 times? Really? I mean, Seriously??

    Well, at least since the last 12 months (And probably even before that), I have been downloading photos in bulk using these simple steps:

    – Select first photo.
    – Keep scrolling down straight to last photo.
    – Then press shift button first and click on the last photo.
    – This will select all items in between.
    – Click Download & The photos will start downloading automatically.

    • Jignesh says:

      Yes that is correct, if you want to download photos from iCloud.com you download each photo independently. This is how I downloaded my photos from iCloud to my computer, it is a Windows PC.

      You can download photos from iCloud with iCloud Photos Library or with Photos app in iOS in bulk as described.

      Please describe what you are using, if it is a browser or the iCloud Photos, as that is relevant.

    • Randy says:

      The shift button does not work selecti first and last. You can use the ctl button of course but then you are back to selecting them one at a time.

    • Erica R says:

      I’m not sure if it’s the version of OS that I have (Sierra 10.12) or what, but holding shift doesn’t let you select multiple images like it used to. Why that simple feature is unavailable is beyond me…

  14. tkoband says:

    If you don’t want to “verify” every pic make sure that in whichever browser you are using, to turn OFF the “ask every time” feature in your options/tools.

    Also, in options, you can change WHERE you want these to download to. You can leave as default and they they will end up in your “download folder” or you can connect an external drive and download to there, saving your PC memory.

    The only caveat to this that I have experienced is that it DOES change the date of your photo/doc/video and they will have “today’s” date, as if they were taken on the date you are saving them from iCloud.

    Then use the same click, scroll to last pic, shift click again to select all in the iCloud and delete all.

    • Susie says:

      Hi tkoband – where is the setting in iCloud you mention above where you can change WHERE the photos download to? In “Settings”? I do not see it there!

      ARGH! I am SO frustrated with iCloud for all the reasons mentioned in this post. I can’t wait until Apple gets their butt kicked with a better program which inevitably it will

      • Karen says:

        It’s a browser setting, not an icloud setting. Once you get the “ask every time” feature turned off you can select all the photos at once and download them all to your new, or default location. I FINALLY figured this out and got all my photos downloaded. *Bonus – it didn’t change the date of the picture either. They all still say the correct date that they were taken.* Man, I miss just plugging in my phone and doing a copy paste to back them up. I think I may just have to turn off the optimization. That way all my new photos are actually on my phone – not just thumbnails. I’ll have to clear my phone more often, but at least it will be simple.

        • Aari says:

          WHICH browser? What kind of computer? I can’t make this work with Safari settings. Desperate to get these to download — especially with the original dates.

  15. Matteo says:

    I had about 11000 pic in my iCloud, I used this guide for selecting all pic on a Mac and It worked like a charm.
    I hope will help you as the same!

  16. Becca says:

    By doing this is it possible to wipe my iCloud storage? I’m trying to save all my pictures to eventually put on flash drives. But since I have no more iCloud storage I want to wipe it clean once I move everything to my mac.

  17. scott kitchener says:

    why can’t you download iCloud albums ? I have many albums created from different trips locations etc. when I set it up on my PC all I can do is download photos which are sorted into years. I might have 6-7 albums created for a single year. But can’t d/l albums. So iCloud is just a storage of my albums which works but not to share across devices as albums. useless really for this purpose.

  18. John Robinson says:

    I tried to download multiple photos from icloud as advised about half arrived in the format IMG0078jpeg etc and half of them arrived with a strange file name and an extension jpeg.part these files could not be opened. Any advice anyone?

  19. Floyd says:

    When I click on the blue download button, I do not get a box to confirm the download. I get the little strip at the bottom of the screen that ask me if I want to save or copy.

  20. jeff says:

    Switched from IE to Chrome, worked like a charm from icloud .com. I am using win7 to download.

  21. Anthony says:

    If you have a Mac and need to download all of your photos you do so quite simply by going to preferences of the Photos app and select the iCloud tab.

    From there you tick the iCloud Photo Library box and it will either automatically start to download, or you press ‘Download Originals to this Mac’.

  22. August says:

    Jeff hit it on the nose. Used Chrome and it did the trick. Try this people. Good luck.

  23. Randy says:

    I guess no one ever wants to address the issue about photo sharing on iphones. I have all of my photos in icloud, but I want to delete them from my phone because they are using about 5 gb, and yes I have done the conversion to make them smaller but again, they are still consuming alot. So I would love to be able to delete them, and have all of them also on icloud. How can I do this. Well, I can move them all from icloud to somewhere on my laptop, maybe dropbox, but I cant select all to download either, so I can go through 5000 photos one at a time and download, unless someone has a work around, that works. None of the ones I have tried that are posted work. So apparently Apple really enjoys holding it’s customers hostage. The same applies for music. So is there anyone out there that can help. I have windows 10, latest version of Icloud.

  24. Sue says:

    same problem! cannot select all by holding shift key. i have about 900 pics on the cloud that i really want to get on my PC and then stop using the cloud. When i save a photo individually, “Date Taken” is blank and date created is the date the photo is downloaded. i save my photos by date so this is useless to me!

  25. Jack says:

    I use imagecapture.app. This allows you to download multiple photos at a time and is very easy to use. It is an Apple app that can be found in your Applications folder.

  26. julia says:

    What if “select photos” button is not available in your all photos page. I can’t find it and I am certain I am in all photos because all the group albums are gone and the pics are all together. I have about 900 photos I need to pull off of here before they all go on my new iphone 7. Really don’t need or want them on the new phone and my icloud is full too so I’d like to just pull all these old shots to the computer.

    Thanks so much for the article!

  27. Avni says:

    This is a complete blunder :P

  28. sun says:

    My biggest gripe is with iPhones with minimal local storage, this sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, even recent photos and videos get sent to iCloud, so I can’t can replay videos I just recently took. Now being a Windows users, it is nearly impossible to retrieve all my photos from iCloud Photos. The method to retrieve them in batches in not working for in in IE11 nor Chrome. Something is really rotten at Apple.

  29. Ana Gorupic says:

    None of this worked for me at all.

  30. Bob says:

    Photos downloaded from iCloud library are in png format. Most online photo services don’t support that format. I used image conversion software to convert them to jpeg, but the result is not satisfactory. Solutions? Thx.

  31. Leanne says:

    I think Apple recently updated Photos. Albums are gone and there is no “select” option. The only way is to go one at a time. I’m hoping Anthony’s suggestion above will work.

  32. Francesca says:

    I need help! I’ve been downloading my photos from icloud onto my computer for weeks using the select photos then download method without any problems. Then the other day when I signed in as I always do I can’t find the select photos anywhere! It’s just disappeared and now I can only select one photo at a time which will take me a lifetime! Has anyone else had this problem? Does anyone know how I can get the select photos option back? Please help it’s driving me nuts! Thanks in advance!

  33. Lindsay says:

    I have the same problem Francesca – anyone have any ideas??!

  34. Mike B says:

    Same problem here.

  35. kristi says:

    same problem. Cannot select more than one photo at a time. Used to be able to select multiples at once but no longer and I do not know what has changed

  36. JLJ says:

    Had same issue, and yes seems like they changed icloud’s (web version) tools, buttons and yes, no longer shift or ctrl click will work. Downloaded iCloud for windows, once its done you can download all at once, it creates folders by year which is handy. So far it looks good, I was worried once downloaded the resolution of em pics would be changed (lowered), but they look good to me. Any thoughts, any one?

    • Mike says:

      I tried that. Uninstalled icloud on my windows PC and reinstalled. The only thing that automatically downloads is the last couple of months of pictures. No way I can find to force the rest to download. Apple has removed the ability to mark multiple pictures for download which tells me they really aren’t interested in allowing that. You can hold down Shift and click on them on at a time but I have 4,000+ pictures so that isn’t really going to work. They are holding the pictures hostage which makes we really want to chunk anything apple including their phones and ipads. Most arrogant company I have ever seen.

  37. Francesca says:

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with this problem! I thought I had removed it somehow by accident. I really hope Apple haven’t just changed it for no reason because if they have then I really don’t see any point to icloud at all!

  38. Beth says:

    I have the iPhone 5S and I have an old pc that has windows 7 on it. I can see all of my 10,000 pics when I sign into pc and go to iCloud. The pics that were already on my computer I’ve been able to drag and drop on my external hard drive icon, but I can’t get my pics from iCloud onto my external hard drive. I’ve never downloaded to the pc individually as it states in prior conversations. I just want to get all 10,000 pictures on my passport hard drive so I can delete off of phone to clear up more space. Any ideas??

  39. wren says:

    i had the same problem … found this … it worked !
    weird … but super thankful to simon201 !

    “Do you have Dropbox running? If so try disabling it, reboot and reconnect your device to the mac and retry Photos and Image Capture”

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7278372?tstart=0

    ps i run the latest OS ( 10.2.1 ) on an iphone 6plus + el capitan on an imac

    cheers !!

  40. Steve Moddelmog says:

    Thanks for the tips. Unfortunately, the normal Windows “hold shift and click” doesn’t work – at least for me. Not in Chrome, not in Firefox, and iCloud won’t even open properly in IE11 – it freezes my entire computer forcing a reboot. I CAN use CTRL-click to choose multiple photos one at a time (a slow process if you’re trying to select several hundred photos), but holding shift and clicking the last photo merely changes the current selection from whatever it was to ONLY the last photo. I am cursing my wife for insisting on owning an iPhone, especially since she relies on me to be her tech support on it. It is a terrible device.

  41. Maria says:

    Even when I wanted to put the pictures iCloud back on the iPhone – I could not.

    Using I cloud is super annoying. You cannot mute-select etc. I went through downloading event by event, picture by picture – just to find out that then all the information in terms of when and where taken is lost?!?!?!

    Apple you are so advanced- this is one reason to NOT use apple – since this is torture.

  42. Logan says:

    Downloading iCloud for Windows was the only fix I could come up with. Seriously so annoying sometimes to deal with all the limitations Apple imposes.

  43. Ron Traguer says:

    There appears to be no reasonable way to download photos in bulk. I’ve tried for days.

    I even had trouble downloading 30 files at a time. Occasionally, you would only end up downloading 20-23 of files and there was no way of telling which 23 files were downloaded and which could be deleted. At the end of days of work downloading, you’ll have no idea how complete your library is.

    I’m moving my family off Apple products. This was the last straw.

  44. Elaine says:

    If I download photos from cloud to desk top computer…will a copy still be in the cloud?

  45. Yuki says:

    I actually know a super easy and perfectly workable method to bulk download all or any selected pictures from iCloud to both PC and Mac in their original format and size, and it needs the usage of an app – AnyTrans. To be honest, it works decently for bulk downloading iCloud photos to my computer, in just one simple click and no need of iCloud Photo Library feature or Photos app. This is the most plain and straightforward way I’ve found for downloading photos in bulk.

    • Tommy says:

      Your method works. It’s a work around for now but it works. I’m using iMac and can use cmd+a to select all and download all photos. I switched to Android a while back but my sister asked for my help.

      Thanks for your tips Yuki.

  46. Heather says:

    This is SO frustrating. I do not have a “Select Photos” button at the top of my iCloud page on my laptop. I am running the latest version of iCloud. The only thing I can do is hold the ctrl key and hit every photo. Great but I don’t want to do that for 2000 photos. I hate iCloud. I want my photos back.

    • Nani says:

      I have the same problem of no “Select Photos” button on my iCloud page. I recently updated to the latest version of iCloud. I thought the problem was because my Mac is so old (early 2009) and runs on El Capitan 10.11.6.

      But maybe instead, it is another way that Apple can herd us into upgrading our iCloud storage. Maybe the upgrade removed those features.

      But another issue I am having is that I cannot even select multiple photos by using the shift key, ONLY IN THE ICLOUD!

  47. David says:

    The cynic in me thinks Apple like everyone to be landed with a monthly subscription for using icloud so making it easy for us to download onto our own HDs so we can delete the files on the cloud isn’t going to happen. #SharpPractice

    My Macbook with 10.8.5 doesn’t have the select button referred to in this article and I’ve not been able to find a work around.

  48. Tyler Davis says:

    I didn’t think it was possible for any software to be worse than iTunes, but iCloud is making a strong case. Clearly this is an effort by Apple to force every user to pay for upgraded iCloud storage, since this is the most user-unfriendly application that could possibly be designed. There is so “Select Photos” button in the iCloud browser. “Shift+click” does not work the same way as it does in every other application on my PC. I am not going to manually click on hundreds of individual photos, like some kind of savage beast. Tip for other frustrated users – download the Google Photos app on your iPhone – free unlimited photo storage, automatically backed up from your phone, and you can actually get to your files when you want them. I love my iPhone but Apple’s software is a joke.

  49. Michael Segall says:

    I am unable to select more than one image using the Control + click to select trick. I am using Windows 10 Professional.

  50. Dustiwoot says:

    I am also unable to select more than one photo using the Control + click trick. I am using Windows 10 Home pro

  51. JT says:

    Why Apple?!?! Please fix this!!

  52. MntMan says:

    I hate apple now. Officially. It used to be that apple products were simple and intuitive and made things easier. Not so now. For years I have gone into my DCIM folders in Windows Explorer and every quarter I clean up. I take all my photos and videos and I throw one copy on a desktop hard drive for easy access, one in a fireproof safe and one is kept offsite (backed up every 6 months). I know. I’m anally retentive about it, but I love the pictures of my kids and our trips and I do frequently look back on them. I even upgraded my iCloud to 50 GB so that in between backups my wife’s and my phone would have ample storage to back up to the cloud. Crazy right.

    So it used to be easy. Go into Explorer. Copy and paste all into one drive. I then use All Sync to easily and automatically create my backups on my hard drives when ready.

    Then they change the folder structure to this silly create a folder for almost every file thing. OK. I can work around that. Search for kind = pics and kind = videos and there they all are. Copy and paste. Backup then delete to clean phone.

    Now? Another change. Sure you can search as before but to and copy them? Nope. Also another folder change. There are now apple folders and cloud folders which I think cause an issue on the search. So now open all the apple folders. Copy all and paste. Except there’s a ton so it’s a pain. Then repeat one folder at a time when ready to delete. Come on!!! Not even sure what to do with cloud folders but went in to delete the contents all as well. Now I’m left with a ton of empty folders. Try and delete those? No luck. Can’t. And why not? Who knows. So now a bunch of empty folders that took forever to clean out that used to be quick and easy.

    So then I get a message my iCloud is full. I can understand that. Let’s clean that bad boy up. Everything is backed up in triplicate anyways right? Not so fast. Where are they? Can I access from my PC? There’s a folder called iCloud. I delete all in there. No luck. OK. Lets go online. icloud.com. There they are. All photos. Check. Click the first and it highlights. click shift and scroll to the bottom and what the F? Maybe I didn’t click shift or my shift key is not working. Nope. I have 14,000 photos uploaded. You can use Ctrl + cliuck but if you click once outside of a photo you have to start all over again.

    Why on God’s green earth would you not allow Shift + click to highlight all as it has been on every device since the beginning of modern computing?

    In short I hate you now Apple. I have the iPhone 7 as does my wife so you have us for a couple more years. Unless you get back to your roots of simplicity when it’s time for my phone upgrade I’ll be looking elsewhere.

    • Ella says:

      I have totally the same problem. I can not get photos from iCloud. And also hate Apple now.
      So disappointed from them.

    • Steve Wagar says:

      You describe my situation exactly. Thank god I only have 800 pictures; in a few hours I might be able to get them. Good job, Apple, in giving us more pitifully weak software. I’ll spare you the rant on just about every other Apple product.

  53. Shelley says:

    The easiest way to copy thousands of iPhone photos to your desktop (and not have them held hostage in iCloud) is to just connect your phone to a computer that doesn’t have iTunes on it. You’ll get the window pop up asking what you want to do (like import photos and videos, which is what you’d click), choose your download location (I have them go into a specified folder in My Pictures according to the month the photos were taken) and then click – you’re done and it will start importing all of the photos to your computer without any Apple interference. That is the only problem we run into when we try to keep the rights and access to our own photos – Apple steps in and says no way, we’re keeping them here in iCloud and too bad for you. You just have to remove the Apple obstacle, which is iTunes. iTunes is the gate keeper, which normally stops that little import window from popping up. An easy system: have one computer with iTunes that you use for updating and syncing, and other that you keep Apple-free in order to store your stuff on.

    • Vero says:

      Shelly, great concept!!!!……now we are forced to buy another device to do what was said by Apple to be “a simple operation”. I am not directing this at you as you have found a reasonable solution and thank you very much for sharing it with us. This directed at Apple who have created the problem with not a good remedy.

  54. Vero says:

    Thank you all for all your great input as I am trying to figure out the best way to approach the issue.

    My question is can the photos, etc be directly transferred to external drive from laptop Macbook Pro?….rather than icloud?
    Any thoughts?? anyone???

    • Steve Wilson says:

      Hey Vero… that is exactly to the T what I am trying to do because I am held hostage with Apple at the moment because everything is full unless I pay more… And I don’t think (please someone correct me if I am wrong) but when you delete a photo on your phone, if you do nothing with it, the photo is gone forever on iCloud because iCloud mirrors your devices. Steve

  55. Steve Wilson says:

    Wow! There is hope for humanity after reading these comments. Its 2:30 am in Mpls and what started (I thought) as a simple migration from iCloud to my external hard drive has clearly become a disaster 6 hours ago! I wish I could find an updated article on this topic because like all of the previous commenters, with the latest OS X to El Capitan there is no such thing as a download all. FRUSTRATING!

    • clawham says:

      You download all the pictures from icloud as directed, you select the pictures on iCloud and download them all.

  56. Evaluna99 says:

    The solution is downloading the iCloud app for P.C. Then select Download Photos on the app icon. It takes long depending on the quantity of photos and your Internet speed, but you don’t have to select photos one by one.

  57. Sam says:

    Thanks I’ve been trying to download photos from iCloud for a long time and this is first time it has been explained properly.

  58. Riley says:

    I have the iCloud app for P.C and no where does r have option to “download photos”
    Ugh!

  59. Natalia says:

    I don’t see the “select photos” anywhere, can someone help me?

    • Lisa says:

      Same here, there is no “select photos button” at the top of the icloud bar. Not sure what they’re talking about.

  60. Donavan says:

    This doesn’t work. I have a MacBook Pro and I cannot shift+click to slect even “2” photo’s and I have more than 1000 to download. I did not enable the Icloud photo … it enabled itself and now I cant seem to download all of the pictures in bulk. I REALY WISH that the Shift+Click really diud work … bummer

  61. si says:

    This poor behaviour of the icloud makes me really rethink my opinion about apple products. On an IOs device the storage of pictures is a two or three clicks story and sorry to say, but saving pictures and doing backups not just via itunes or the cloud it-self is a basic feature.

    When will it be possible to download folders?
    When will it be posible to download all pictures with a simple click?

  62. C says:

    Er. They don’t let you download them all because they don’t want you leaving stupid iCloud for other, better services. They have entangled you in their complex web and making it difficult to free yourself again. Its the typical heavy-handed Apple approach and is extremely unethical. People are catching on to this and explains why Apple is becoming less and less popular and will eventually lead to Apple’s demise.

    • Parry Mitt says:

      You can download your photos from iCloud on the web. Try command+click or alt+click or option+click or shift+click, your key option may be different but you can definitely still select multiple photos to download. I downloaded my photos from iCloud.

  63. C says:

    It has become clear to me that Apple has disabled all the easy ways shown above to download all your files. They have disabled shift-click. They have disabled select all. They have disabled download all. They are trying to make it as difficult as possible for you to download all your pictures because that means your leaving. The only way to do it is to select and download them one by one. They hope this discourages you from leaving iCloud. This is one of the most unethical practices I have even seen from a company and regret having bought any Apple product to begin with. Their management has the short-sightedness to think that this practice will keep you as customers but will in fact make you question your entire use of every Apple product and, if you have a brain, will realize that all Apple products need to be avoided because they are manipulating you. We all need to go back to Windows and I made a mistake in ever leaving them to begin with, no matter how many mistakes they have made. The tables are turning back towards windows’ favor and they don’t shackle your hands as part of being a customer.

    • CharlieATL says:

      Here is how to do this on a PC, thanks to Tom’s guide.

      1. Click on the iCloud icon at the bottom right of your screen, i.e. the system tray.
      2. In the iCloud Photos section, top half of the pop-up, click ‘download photos’.
      3. Select ‘All’ or whatever subset presents itself.
      Now, the download will start, but you will not be told where the photos are downloading to, too much to expect I suppose. I poked around and found that they went to

      THIS PC
      LOCAL DISK (C)
      USERS

      PICTURES
      iCloud Photos
      DOWNLOADS

      From there, you can copy & paste them to whatever bulk storage device you choose. Then delete them from iCloud to free up storage. The only downside here is that they won’t be readily and easily accessible from your other iOS devices, but as others here have pointed out, we have Google for that.

    • Andrea says:

      I totally agree! I have over 8000 photos, and I want them backed up somewhere other than the cloud!

  64. ian says:

    After much searching in both this thread and other places, I finally found this bit of gold with instructions on how to easily download ALL photos from iCloud.

    Hope this helps others as well.

    • Will says:

      open up icloud, may sure photos are setup. Open up photos app from dock, choose preferences. There is an option for “Download originals to Mac” it will keep a copy of all photos on your mac as well. :)

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