Storing Photos OFF iphone

Friend has this problem. She bought an iphone with little storage
Problem: iphone with only 16gigs of storage and 168mb left. Cannot update IOS. Need at least 3gigs per install info
How can she keep her photos elsewhere and delete off iphone?
She has iCloud with 50Gigs available.
Thank you

If I want to store photos off my iPhone, I connect the iPhone to my Macintosh with a USB to Lightning cable and open GraphicConverter. GC asks if I want to browse photos on the iPhone; I say yes. I select the photos I want to save off the iPhone and have GC copy or move (I don’t remember which) them to the folder of my choice on the Mac’s hard disk. If I copied the photos, I then delete them from the iPhone. The whole process is not quite as intuitive as I would like, and I need to re-learn the steps each time, but since I can re-learn the steps each time, it must be fairly straightforward.

1 Like

Image Capture does much the same thing.


I’ll kind of second the Image Capture solution, though what I use is Photosync, which is an ios app that can backup or sync photos/videos to a mac (and many other places). The ios app is $5, the desktop part is free.

(There’s another app, Photosync-Pro, but it’s some other developer and I don’t know anything about it.)

Nice. Thank You. I suspected it would take another app to actualize.

I’ll second Image Capture… and wonder why she is not using iCloud Photo Library… as that will also push photos off her phone and into the cloud, while still making them look like they are local… and not need any managing.

iCloud Photo Library is what I setup for my wife when she needed something simpler than having to remember to offload images before her phone got full. It was also a 16GB phone.



Friends of mine in similar situations simply turned on iCloud Photo storage. iCloud was set to store the high resolution images and the iPhone was set to just store low res images. There was no need to delete any photos, the savings from simply storing low res images save a huge amount on storage. But warn her that once set up, if she deletes a photo from the iPhone it is deleted everywhere.

I also instruct friends to turn on iCloud Photo storage on their Macs so the photos are automatically copied to the Macs. Again, the warning about deleting any images.

I also make use of Apple’s Music Match ($25/year) to store most of my music in iClouod. I ripped many CDs so this made sense to me. If you buy all of your music from iTunes and/or stream music Music Match is not necessary.


Yes it’s called iCloud Photo Library. She’s already paying for the extra space online. This solution is a slam dunk.

But check Settings because other things may be taking space too. Music was mentioned.

1 Like

I used Photosync all thru a UK trip via Bluetooth as I recall to backup my photos to my computer.

Can Photosync be setup to simply copy from phone to computer?


if she deletes a photo from the iPhone it is deleted everywhere…
on iCloud Photo storage on their Macs so the photos are automatically
copied to the Macs. Again, the warning about deleting any images.

This is really stupid design, deleting images moved to iCloud when deleting them to make more room on the iPhone. And without warning, too. I lost a bunch of pictures after paying for the extra storage and thinking I was using it.

Hi Hank,

Once you start using iCloud Photo Library you really need to “think differently” (pun intended) about your photos on your devices:

  • Photos do not get ‘moved to the cloud’. They get merged with your Library.
  • What you see on your device is your Entire library. Yep, it just so happens you are only seeing thumbnail resolution. Don’t overthink it.
  • There is no longer any way, or reason, to manage images on your device: it’s part of the Library.

If you use IMAP for email it’s the same idea: all your stuff is stored in the cloud and any changes you make here get reflected there.

Hope that helps… and I do give the same warnings, over and over, to my clients: it works, leave it alone, don’t delete anything unless you meant to delete it everywhere.

By the way, I have my Mac set to ‘Download full resolution images’ so I have a local, complete, copy of my Library, which also ends up in Time Machine… so if you do the same you can go back and retrieve your images.



Is there a way to break the connection so I can delete thumbnail image clutter from my iPhone, leaving the the full resolution originals untouched? I need to free up storage on the iPhone (old one, topped out at iOS 7)

Diane D wrote: “Can Photosync be setup to simply copy from phone to computer?”

Yes, it doesn’t have to sync. I mostly do straight copies of selected files to the mac. It can also sync or copy subsets, such as a desktop folder to an iphone Photos album, which is handy for getting ‘real’ camera pics onto the phone with some separation from the phone pics so they can be easily deleted again or sent to another app without having to find the needles in the haystack.

If you turn off iCloud Photos on that device… then you can manage it as a standalone iPhone. In that case I would use Image Capture or similar to copy images off then delete them.



Thank you all for the advice and comments. So…I would like to take a poll. What is the best app to copy these photos - then delete from the iPhone?

Much appreciated.

When you say, “mostly do straight copies of selected files to the mac”, do you specifically mean that you copy them to IMAGE CAPTURE OR what application on the mac?

Just to be clear please.

Thank you

Image Capture is an under-rated Mac app that comes with macOS. It allows you to view thumbnails of photos on your iPhone or camera (eg SD card). Then you can select ones to copy to your Mac. This can be to a folder or, probably more suitable for you, they can go straight into the Photos Library on the Mac. You can also automatically delete the copied photos from the iPhone/camera. You can also select other photos to delete using Image Capture and so manage all the photos on the iPhone/camera SD card.
I also use it to capture scanned images from my scanner/printer.
The Photos app also has the ability to import and manage photos when an iPhone is connected but I prefer to use Image Capture.
Of course, this all assumes you have a Mac available!

You can also use “Upload to my Photo Stream” to do it through iCloud, though you just have to remember to open Photos on the Mac (or your windows photos app if you use iCloud for Windows) periodically to import them. I think My Photo Stream keeps the latest one months of photos.

The only issue would be Live Photos, if you use them. Live photos are not uploaded to My Photo Stream.


Tori Hernandez wrote: “do you specifically mean that you copy them to IMAGE CAPTURE OR what application on the mac?”

I use the Photosync ios app ($5) to talk to the Photosync desktop app (free). There are (many!) other ways to do things with Photosync but that’s simplest to use over time, though it does need some setup.

For a one-off copy instead of two way sync, I usually set a new destination folder on the mac (in the desktop photosync), then tell the ios app to sync the entire camera roll (or subset such as an album) there. Before deleting anything on the phone, be sure to check that they all transferred properly.

There’s reasonably good documentation at the site, though it’s a bit scattered:

If it seems like too many choices for your friend to set up, Image Capture would probably be a better way to go since its only option is a one time copy.