How to Delete Photos from Mac but Not iCloud?

Managing photos on your Mac and iCloud is crucial to keep your digital life organized. However, one common issue that many users face is deleting photos from their Mac without removing them from iCloud. In this article, we will guide you through the process of deleting photos from your Mac while ensuring they remain safe in iCloud. So let's dive in!

Understanding the Difference Between Mac and iCloud Photo Libraries

Before we proceed, let's clarify the difference between Mac and iCloud Photo Libraries. Your Mac Photo Library consists of all the photos stored locally on your Mac, while iCloud Photo Library is a cloud-based storage solution that syncs your photos across all your Apple devices.

Syncing Mac and iCloud Photo Libraries

To start managing your photos effectively, you need to enable iCloud Photo Library on your Mac. By doing so, your photos will be automatically synced between your Mac and iCloud, ensuring seamless access from any device.

Deleting Photos from Mac Only

If you want to remove photos from your Mac without affecting your iCloud library, follow these simple steps:

  1. Locate the Mac Photo Library folder: Your Mac Photo Library is usually stored in the Pictures folder. Open Finder, go to Pictures, and look for the Photos Library file.

  2. Select and delete photos from Mac: Open the Photos app on your Mac and select the photos you want to delete. Press the Delete key or right-click and choose the “Delete” option. Confirm the deletion when prompted.

  3. Understand the implications: Deleting photos from your Mac only removes them from the local storage. They will still be accessible through iCloud on other devices. Keep in mind that if you delete a photo from iCloud, it will be removed from all devices connected to your iCloud account.

Keeping Photos in iCloud while Deleting from Mac

If you want to delete photos from your Mac while keeping them safely stored in iCloud, follow these steps:

  1. Disabling iCloud Photo Library on Mac temporarily: Open the Photos app on your Mac, go to Preferences > iCloud, and uncheck the “iCloud Photo Library” option. This will pause the sync between your Mac and iCloud.

  2. Deleting photos from Mac: Follow the same steps mentioned in the previous section to delete the desired photos from your Mac.

  3. Ensuring photos remain in iCloud: After deleting the photos from your Mac, re-enable iCloud Photo Library by checking the “iCloud Photo Library” option in Preferences. This will resume the sync and ensure that the photos remain accessible through iCloud.

Managing iCloud Storage for Photos

As you continue to capture and accumulate more photos, it's important to manage your iCloud storage effectively. Here are some tips to optimize your photo storage in iCloud:

  1. Review your iCloud storage capacity: Open the Settings app on your Mac, click on your Apple ID, go to iCloud > Manage, and check the available storage space. This will help you gauge how much storage your photos are occupying.

  2. Optimize photo storage in iCloud: In the iCloud Preferences on your Mac, ensure that the “Optimize Mac Storage” option is selected. This feature automatically manages your photo storage, keeping full-resolution photos in iCloud while replacing the originals on your Mac with optimized versions.

  3. Deleting photos permanently from iCloud: If you want to remove photos permanently from iCloud, you can do so by selecting the photos in the Photos app, right-clicking, and choosing the “Delete” option. Remember, once deleted from iCloud, these photos cannot be recovered.


In conclusion, managing your photos on both your Mac and iCloud is essential for an organized digital life. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can confidently delete photos from your Mac without worrying about losing them in iCloud. Remember to enable iCloud Photo Library for seamless synchronization and optimize your iCloud storage as needed. Take control of your photo management and enjoy the benefits of a clutter-free digital world!