iCloud Photos Not Downloading on iPhone or iPad? Here’s How to Fix & Troubleshoot

Oct 25, 2020 - 4 Comments

iCloud Photos Troubleshooting on iPhone

Do you take advantage of Apple’s iCloud Photos service to conveniently store all your photos online? If you’ve been a regular user of iCloud Photos over the years, you may occasionally run into issues where it doesn’t always work seamlessly, and sometimes that means iCloud Photos are not downloading to an iPhone or iPad as expected.

Taking a step back for a moment, recall that iCloud Photos syncs your photos across all of your devices within a matter of minutes, but in some cases, these photos may fail to show up on your iPhone or iPad (or Mac, but we’re focusing on the former here). This could be due to several factors and the issue doesn’t necessarily have to be with iCloud itself. Lack of storage space on your device and poor internet connectivity could also prevent you from downloading photos from iCloud on to your iOS device.

If you’re facing issues with iCloud Photos on your device, let’s walk through some steps to troubleshoot and fix iCloud Photos not showing up or downloading to your iPhone and iPad.

Troubleshooting iCloud Photos on iPhone & iPad

Let’s take a look at some of the potential solutions and troubleshooting methods you can try on your iOS device, whenever some of your iCloud photos are not showing up. Obviously you must have iCloud Photos enabled on iPhone or iPad for this to work, and if you’re hoping to sync photos to those devices from a Mac then it must be enabled on the Mac too. But we’re assuming you already know that, and so let’s get on with troubleshooting:

1. Check Internet Connectivity

This is the first thing you need to check when you’re having issues syncing photos with iCloud.

A fast and reliable internet connection is necessary for iCloud Photos to function properly.

Make sure you’re connected to the internet by opening a web page in Safari. Or, if you’re connected to a cellular network, switch to a Wi-Fi network and see if your photos are then being downloaded.

2. Disable Low Power Mode

If you use Low Power mode on your iPhone or iPad, you need to turn it off before using iCloud Photos.

In order to save battery, iCloud doesn’t necessarily download photos on to your device, as long as Low Power mode is enabled. Your battery indicator would be yellow if you’re using Low Power mode.

To turn this off, tap on the battery toggle located in the iOS Control Center.

iCloud Photos Troubleshooting on iPhone

3. Toggle iCloud Photos On & Off

Be certain to backup your iPhone or iPad completely before trying this one. You might even want to manually download all photos from iCloud first. The reason being is that this is potentially risky, and it should perhaps be considered a last resort, because toggling the feature off and on may cause photos to be deleted permanently. Therefore only do this if you have a full and complete backup of your device, as well as having a full complete backup of all of your photos too. Failure to have a complete backup of your photos and stuff could result in data loss of your precious images.

Make sure iCloud Photos is enabled on your iOS device first of all, and even if it is enabled already, toggle it off and turn it back on again.

By doing this, you’re essentially forcing iCloud to sync your photos again. In order to do this, head over to Settings -> Photos -> iCloud Photos.

iCloud Photos Troubleshooting on iPhone

4. Download and Keep Originals

If you enable iCloud Photos on your iPhone and iPad, it chooses the “Optimize iPhone Storage” setting by default.

The optimized storage option only stores a low-resolution version of your photos on your device, just so you’re able to view all the photos in your iCloud library. However, you can change this setting by going to Settings -> Photos -> Download and Keep Originals.

iCloud Photos Troubleshooting on iPhone

5. Check Storage Space

This might sound silly, but lack of physical storage space on your iPhone and iPad could prevent you from downloading iCloud photos.

Although iCloud is a cloud storage service, your iOS device stores a low-resolution version of the photos even on the optimized storage setting. This could take up a lot more space especially if you use the “Keep Originals” setting.

To check how much storage space you’ve used up, head over to Settings -> General -> iPhone (iPad) storage. If it’s full, you could offload apps or uninstall apps that you don’t really use and try syncing photos again.

iCloud Photos Troubleshooting on iPhone

6. Sign out and Sign in to iCloud

Issues with your Apple account could also be the reason why you’re unable to download photos from iCloud.

Try signing out of iCloud and log back in again. To do this, go to Settings -> Apple ID -> Sign out on your iOS device, as shown in the screenshot below. This will restart the syncing process too.

iCloud Photos Troubleshooting on iPhone

7. Reboot Your Device

The issue could be with your iPhone or iPad, and not iCloud itself. Several iOS-related issues can be resolved by simply restarting the device.

If you’re using an iPhone or iPad without a physical home button, hold the side button and the volume up button to access the shut down menu.

However, if you’re using an iPhone or iPad with a physical home button, you just need to hold down the power button. You can shut down your iPhone or iPad through Settings too.

iCloud Photos Troubleshooting on iPhone

By now, you should’ve fixed the issues you were facing with iCloud Photos on your iPhone and iPad, and hopefully the photos will start downloading and syncing as expected.

If none of the above troubleshooting methods worked in your instance, you might need to reset the network settings on your device. In rare cases, common networking issues with your iPhone or iPad could likely be the reason why you’re unable to sync your iCloud photos. In order to do this, go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset Network Settings on your iOS device.

Still unable to download photos from iCloud on to your iPhone or iPad? It’s time to get in touch with official Apple Support. You can also call or e-mail them about your queries and hopefully get it resolved, and by the way if they give you any tips or solutions that work, please share them in the comments here!

We hope resolved the issues involving downloading iCloud Photos to your device. Which of these troubleshooting methods we discussed here worked for you? Know any other steps that you think we missed out? Did you find another solution? Do share your thoughts and experience in the comments section down below.


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Posted by: Hamlin Rozario in iPad, iPhone, Troubleshooting


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Yes, toggling off “photos” took awhile, then a pop-up window offered to delete the space-saver versions of my photos. I elected to cancel that request option, and found my toggle-on option on photos was back in place. And everything works. Thanks.

  2. Sean Smith says:

    Thank you. Toggling off photos in iCloud worked. I was missing about 8 years worth of photos.

  3. Tim Gorham says:

    So you are essentially guessing, right? None of these “fixes” work. iCloud is a clumsy and poorly devised service that does not do what it claims it is supposed to do.

  4. Peter says:

    Something not addressed is the issue of getting duplicates after a complete restore of macos and a rsync is started, all pictures with face recognition info seems to get duplicated in the entire library. A nightmare if gou have many thousands of fotos in the library

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