How to Delete Photos from iPhone but Not iCloud 2024

Want to free up space without losing photos? This guide will tell you how to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud.


By Lena / Updated on December 28, 2023

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Delete Photos Just Off iPhone, Not iCloud

Is there any way to delete photos/videos from my iPhone without deleting them from my iCloud? I'm trying to free up device space without losing the pictures/videos on the cloud.

- Question from Apple Community

Do you have the same confusion as this user? You want to delete some photos on your iPhone to free up space, but you don't want to lose your photos. Since the photos are stored on iCloud, is there a way to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud?

Tip: If you accidentally delete some photos, you can go to to restore deleted photos in the latest 30 days from Recently Deleted album.

Can You Delete Photos from iPhone but not iCloud?

When iCloud Photos is enabled on iPhone, photos on iPhone will be automatically uploaded to iCloud and synced to other iDevices. In addition, photos in iCloud will also be synced to your iPhone. Likewise, when you delete a photos from Photos app on iPhone, it also deletes from your iCloud and any other devices where you have signed in to iCloud Photos.

That’s to say, Apple does not allow you to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud. But fortunately, there are some workarounds that can help you delete photos from iPhone but keep them in iCloud. Read on to get the details.

How to Delete Photos from iPhone but Not iCloud

Here are 4 workarounds that can help you delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud. If you want to make sure that you won’t lose any photos, Solution 2 is a better choice.

Solution 1. Turn off iCloud Photos

This is the easiest way to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud. When you disable iCloud Photos, you will be given the option to “Remove Photos from iPhone” or “Download Photos & Videos”. You can choose the previous option to quickly delete all photos from iPhone, or you can choose to download iCloud photos on iPhone and then manually delete unwanted photos.

Only one disadvantage: If you turn on iCloud Photos again on iPhone, it will try to update to match your iPhone. The photos you deleted from iPhone will also be deleted from iCloud.

How to turn off iCloud Photos:

Go to Settings app > Tap [your name] > Tap iCloud > Tap Photos > Turn off iCloud Photos > Choose to remove photos from iPhone or download photos to iPhone.

Turn off iCloud Photos

Solution 2. Transfer Photos to Computer as Backup

This is a complicated way to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud. But you can make sure that all your photos will be kept safe.

3 steps to make it:

1. Transfer photos from iPhone to compuer

2. Delete photos from iPhone

3. Upload photos to iCloud from computer

Once you transfer your photos to your computer, you won't have to worry about losing them. You can upload photos to iCloud or transfer photos back to iPhone anytime you want.

Step 1. Transfer photos from iPhone to computer

When you connect iPhone to computer, you can find your photos via File Explorer and copy them to computer. You need to open folder after folder to find the photos you need to transfer. In addition, it will only display camera roll photos. To make things simple, you can rely on FoneTool to help you transfer photos quickly.

FoneTool is one comprehensive iOS data management tool for Windows PC users. It supports data transfer between iPhone and computer, between iPhone and another iPhone/iPad. You can let it help you transfer full resolution photos from iPhone to computer.

1. Download, install and launch FoneTool.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7
Secure Download

2. Connect your iPhone to computer and Trust FoneTool.

3. On the home interface, choose iPhone to PC option.

Transfer to Computer

4. Choose Photos and select the pictures you want to transfer.

Choose Photos

5. Select a path from Transfer Settings (location folder, USB flash drive, external hard drive) to save your photos and click Start Transfer to export photos to computer.


Tip: If you want to delete iCloud backups, you can use FoenTool to help you. Just run FoneTool on your PC > Tap My iCloud > Enter your iCloud account > Select iCloud manage.

Step 2. Delete photos from iPhone

Now your photos are safely stored on your computer and you can delete photos from iPhone to free up space. You can disable iCloud Photos as shown in Solution 1 to remove all iCloud photos from iPhone.

Step 3. Upload photos to iCloud from computer

Before uploading photos to iCloud, please make sure that you have disabled iCloud Photos on iPhone, otherwise, these photos will be synced to your iPhone again.

1. Open a browser and go to

2. Log in to your account with your Apple ID and passcode.

3. Choose Photos option and choose to upload photos to it.

Upload Photos to iCloud

Solution 3. Switch to Another iCloud Account

You can also choose to switch to another iCloud account to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud. When you log in to another iCloud account on iPhone, you can delete unwanted photos on iPhone and the changes won’t be updated to the previous iCloud.

You can go to to view the photos stored in the previous iCloud. In addition, you can access them from your other devices by signing in with your previous Apple ID.

1. Go to Settings > Tap [your name] > Tap Sign Out > Enter the passcode to turn off Find My iPhone > Choose the files you want to keep on your iPhone > Tap Sign Out to confirm.

Sign Out of iCloud

2. Tap the Apple ID subheading to sign in to another account. Now your iPhone is synced with the current iCloud account. You can go to Photos app to delete photos from iPhone but not previous iCloud.

Solution 4. Use Other Cloud Storage Services

iCloud is not the only cloud storage service for photo backup. You can choose to upload iPhone photos to Google Photos, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.

Upload Files to Google Drive

Unlike iCloud, when you delete a photo from iPhone, it will not be deleted from these cloud storage services. When photos are successfully uploaded, they can be safely stored in the cloud and you can delete photos from iPhone to free up space.

Final Words

You want to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud because you do not want to lose your photos. In this case, it’s recommended to first transfer photos from iPhone to computer first, and then delete them from iPhone. In this way, you can ensure that the photos will not be lost. You can also upload photos to iCloud or transfer them back to iPhone at any time in the future.  

Recently, some users complained about corrupted videos and images from strangers appearing in Photo Libraries. Here’s one MacRumors reader sleeping_ghost explains:

“iCloud for Windows is corrupting videos recorded from an iPhone 14 pro max resulting in black videos with scan lines. On rare occasions, it is inserting stills into videos from unknown sources, possibly other's iCloud accounts...”

If you are concerned about your privacy, then iCloud may not be a good choice for photos backup. You can rely on FoneTool to help you transfer photos to computer, USB flash drive or external hard drive as backup.