How to Turn On and Use iCloud Photo library

iOS already has a feature called Photo Stream, which takes your photos that you capture with one of your iOS devices and syncs them across your other iOS devices, including an Apple TV if you have one. However, a new feature called iCloud Photo Library looks to take that to the next level. Here’s how to set it up.

iCloud Photo Library launched alongside iOS 8.1. This new service syncs your photos in iCloud, not only allowing you to view them on your iOS devices, but also on your Mac as well as on any other computer by visiting and logging into your account.


The service is still in beta, which means it’s not fully functional just yet, but it still works for the most part. OS X users can’t officially use it yet until the new Photos app releases early next year at some point, which is probably why the feature is still in beta mode.

If this is a feature that you’re interested in using, here’s how to set it up and sync your photos across all of your Apple devices through iCloud.

On Your iOS Device

While most features in iOS 8 are enabled by default, iCloud Photo Library is a feature that is opt-in, meaning that you’ll have to enable it yourself. To do so, follow these quick and easy steps:


  • Open up the Settings app.
  • Scroll down and tap on Photos & Camera.
  • Turn on iCloud Photo Library (Beta) by tapping on the toggle switch so that it turns green.

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From there, any photos an videos that you currently have on your iPhone or iPad will begin uploading automatically to iCloud.

To access iCloud photos, simply just open up the Photos app on any of your iOS devices and then tap on the Photos tab down at the bottom. You should now see all of your photos that are in iCloud, as well as photos that you took locally with that specific iOS device.

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To view your iCloud photos on a Mac, your only option right now is to visit the iCloud beta website and log in to your iCloud account using your Apple ID credentials. From there, click on the Photos icon to browse your photos.


Additional Options

After enabling iCloud Photo Library, you’ll notice a couple of more settings that appear on that menu page.

You’ll have the option to either select Optimize iPhone Storage or Download and Keep Originals. iCloud Photo Library uploads all of your photos and downloads them to all of your other iOS devices, which takes up space on those other devices. If you’re running out of space on one of your iOS devices, it may be a good idea to select the first option to save on storage space.

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However, if you have plenty of free space and prefer the full resolution quality of all images, you can select the latter option. However, you can also just select Optimize iPhone Storage and simply pick and choose which photos you want the full resolution to, allowing you to still save on free space.

iCloud Storage Space

It’s important to know that using iCloud Photo Library takes up space in your iCloud account, so it will be really easy to fill up your free 5GB. However, Apple lets you upgrade storage for a monthly fee.


You can buy 20GB of storage for $0.99 per month, 200GB for $3.99 per month, 500GB for $9.99 per month, or 1TB for $19.99 per month.

Which storage size you pick is ultimately up to you, but 200GB should be plenty if you only plan to store photos and such, and you can easily upgrade your storage in the future if you need more space. You can do this by navigating to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Change Storage Plan.