How to Move Photos from iCloud to External Hard Drive

Shreyas Patil SEO
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
How to Move Photos from iCloud to External Hard Drive

In today's digital age, our lives are filled with precious memories captured in the form of photographs. Whether it's a stunning sunset, a heartwarming family gathering, or a milestone achievement, these photos hold immense sentimental value. To ensure their safety and accessibility, many of us store our pictures on iCloud, Apple's cloud storage service. However, as your photo collection grows, you may find yourself running out of space on iCloud. In such cases, it's wise to transfer your photos to an external hard drive. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps of how to move photos from iCloud to an external hard drive seamlessly.

The Importance of Backing Up Your Photos

Before delving into the technicalities of transferring photos, let's emphasize the significance of backing up your precious memories. Imagine losing years of photos due to a device malfunction or accidental deletion. It's a heartbreaking thought. By regularly backing up your photos, you can safeguard them against unforeseen circumstances and cherish those memories for a lifetime.

Why Choose an External Hard Drive?

You might wonder why an external hard drive is an ideal choice for storing your photos. Well, there are several reasons:

  1. Ample Storage: External hard drives come in various sizes, offering ample storage space for your entire photo collection.

  2. No Monthly Fees: Unlike cloud storage services, external hard drives don't require monthly subscriptions. You make a one-time investment, and the storage is yours forever.

  3. Offline Access: You can access your photos without an internet connection, making them readily available wherever you go.

  4. Enhanced Privacy: Your photos are stored locally on the hard drive, minimizing the risk of data breaches or unauthorized access.

Now that we understand the importance of backing up photos and the advantages of using an external hard drive, let's dive into the step-by-step process.

How to Move Photos from iCloud to External Hard Drive

To successfully transfer your photos from iCloud to an external hard drive, follow these detailed steps:

Step 1: Ensure Sufficient Space on Your External Hard Drive

Before beginning the transfer process, ensure that your external hard drive has enough storage space to accommodate your photos. Check the available space on the drive to avoid any interruptions during the transfer.

Step 2: Download iCloud for Windows

To access your iCloud photos on a Windows PC, you'll need to download the iCloud for Windows application. Visit the official Apple website to download and install this software.

Step 3: Sign In to iCloud for Windows

Launch the iCloud for Windows application and sign in with your Apple ID and password. Once you're logged in, you'll have access to your iCloud Drive, including your photos.

Backup & Transfer your Photos in Minutes

Trusted by users in 125+ countries.

(283 reviews)

Step 4: Choose Photos to Download

Navigate to the "Photos" section within the iCloud for Windows application. Here, you can select the photos you want to transfer to your external hard drive. You can choose individual photos or entire albums.

Step 5: Download Selected Photos

After selecting your photos, click the "Download" button. iCloud for Windows will begin downloading the chosen photos to your PC's local storage.

Step 6: Connect Your External Hard Drive

Connect your external hard drive to your computer using the appropriate cable or connection method. Ensure that it's recognized by your PC.

Step 7: Transfer Photos to the External Hard Drive

Open File Explorer on your Windows PC and locate the folder where your downloaded iCloud photos are stored. Select the photos you want to move, right-click, and choose "Cut."

Next, navigate to your external hard drive using File Explorer, right-click in the destination folder, and select "Paste." Your selected photos will now be transferred to the external hard drive.

Step 8: Verify the Transfer

After the transfer is complete, double-check that all your photos have successfully moved to the external hard drive. It's essential to ensure that no data is left behind on your PC's storage.

Quick Tip to ensure your videos never go missing

Download PicBackMan

Videos are precious memories and all of us never want to ever lose them to hard disk crashes or missing drives. PicBackMan is the easiest and simplest way to keep your videos safely backed up in one or more online accounts. Simply Download PicBackMan (it's free!), register your account, connect to your online store and tell PicBackMan where your videos are - PicBackMan does the rest, automatically. It bulk uploads all videos and keeps looking for new ones and uploads those too. You don't have to ever touch it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now that you've learned how to move photos from iCloud to an external hard drive, let's address some common questions related to this process:

Q: Can I transfer photos from iCloud to an external hard drive on a Mac?

A: Yes, you can. The process is slightly different on a Mac, but you can achieve the same result by following similar steps.

Q: What if I have a large photo library on iCloud?

A: If you have a substantial photo library, it may take some time to download all your photos. Ensure that your PC and external hard drive have sufficient storage and be patient during the transfer.

Q: Do I need an internet connection for this transfer?

A: Yes, you'll need an internet connection to download your photos from iCloud. However, you can access them offline once they are on your external hard drive.

Q: Can I use an external hard drive with other devices, like my smartphone or tablet?

A: External hard drives are primarily designed for use with computers. To access your photos on other devices, you may need to transfer them back to your cloud storage or create backups specifically for those devices.

Q: Is there a way to automate this process for regular backups?

A: Yes, you can set up automatic backups using software or built-in features on your computer. Consult the documentation for your specific operating system for guidance.

Q: Are there any risks involved in transferring photos to an external hard drive?

A: While the process itself is safe, it's essential to handle your external hard drive with care to avoid physical damage. Additionally, always keep backups of your backups for added security.


Preserving your cherished memories through regular backups is a responsible and wise practice. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your photos are securely stored on an external hard drive, ready to be enjoyed for years to come. Don't let the fear of losing precious moments deter you; take action today and safeguard your memories.

Remember that the process may vary slightly depending on your operating system, so be sure to consult relevant documentation or seek assistance if needed. With the right preparation and care, you can successfully move photos from iCloud to an external hard drive, granting you peace of mind and easy access to your treasured snapshots.

World's #1 Photo/Video Uploader

Backup & Transfer your Photos in Minutes

Automate backup & migration of your photos & videos with support for all top services.

(283 reviews)

Trusted by users in 125+ countries.

95,000+ PicBackMan Users

95,000+ Users Trust PicBackMan To Backup Precious Memories

money back guarantee
Kip Roof testimonial Kip Roofgoogle photos flickr
PicBackMan does exactly what it's supposed to. It's quick and efficient. It runs unobtrusively in the background and has done an excellent job of uploading more than 300GB of photos to 2 different services. After having lost a lot of personal memories to a hard drive crash, it's nice to know that my photos are safe in 2 different places.
Julia Alyea Farella testimonialJulia Alyea Farella smugmug
LOVE this program! Works better than ANY other program out there that I have found to upload thousands of pictures WITH SUB-FOLDERS to SmugMug! Thank you so much for what you do! :) #happycustomer
Pausing Motion testimonialPausingMotionsmugmug
I pointed PicBackMan at a directory structure, and next time I looked - all the photos had uploaded! Pretty cool. I use SmugMug and while I really like it, the process of creating directories in is pretty laborious when you need to make 80+ at a time. This was a breeze. Thank you!
Gavin Whitham testimonialGavin Whithamflickr
PicBackMan was really easy to setup and has been running for 3 days now backing up all my locally saved photos to Flickr. My photos are really valuable to me so it's great to be able to have them easily backed up to a secure location.
 Jim Griffin testimonialJim Griffinsmugmug
It's AWESOME!! I have tens of thousands of pictures...and they are now successfully uploaded to SmugMug, where they are safely backed up, and I can edit and organize them. If you are hesitating about using PicBackMan, hesitate no longer...try it...and you'll be glad you did!!
close icon
World's #1 Photo/Video Uploader

World's #1 Free Photo/Video Uploader

PicBackMan has everything you've ever wanted to backup your photos or migrate/transfer from one account to another. No feature left behind!

(283 reviews)
Trusted by users in 125+ countries.
  • Maintain Folder StructureMaintain Folder StructureUpload to your online accounts & keep your folder structure as you have it.
  • Sub-folder SupportFolders & their sub-folders are automatically picked up.
  • Smart De-dupeDe-dupes photos before uploading so you don’t have duplicate copies.
  • AutomaticPicBackMan monitors & automatically uploads from connected folders.
  • PrivacyPrivacyAll uploaded photos & videos are always marked as private by default.
  • RAW FilesComes with support for RAW files for uploads as well as transfers.

“Your pictures are scattered. PicBackMan helps you bring order to your digital memories.”

the wall street journal
close icon
One Uploader for All Services

One Uploader for All Services

PicBackMan is the only tool you will need to backup to one or more of the top online photo and video services.

(283 reviews)
Trusted by users in 125+ countries.
Google Photos

Google Photos







Google Drive

Google Drive