How to turn off iCloud Photo Library on just one device?

Shreyas Patil
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
How to turn off iCloud Photo Library on just one device

The iCloud Photo Library allows you to store all your photos and videos in iCloud and access them from any device connected to your iCloud account. It's a great way to save storage space on your devices while keeping your photos available across all your Apple devices. 

However, you may wish to turn off iCloud Photo Library on just one of your devices, while keeping it active on your other devices. In this article, I'll explain why you may want to do this and walk you through the steps to turn off iCloud Photo Library on a single device.

Reasons to Turn off iCloud Photo Library on One Device

There are a few reasons why you may want to turn off iCloud Photo Library on just one of your devices:

iCloud Photo Library on One Device

Save storage space on a specific device

If you have iCloud Photo Library enabled, all your photos and videos are stored in iCloud and also downloaded to each device. This takes up storage space on each device. If you are running low on space on a particular device, like an older iPhone, you can turn off iCloud Photo Library just for that device to save space. Your photos will still be stored safely in iCloud.

Manage which photos/videos sync to a device

You may not want all your photos and videos synchronized to a particular device. For example, you may not want all your photos taking up space on your work iPhone. By turning off iCloud Photo Library on your work device, you can choose which albums and photos get downloaded to it.

Troubleshoot issues with iCloud Photo Library

Sometimes turning iCloud Photo Library off and back on again can help resolve syncing issues and conflicts. Disabling it on one problematic device and then re-enabling it may help get things working smoothly again.

Requirements for Turning off iCloud Photo Library on One Device

There are a couple requirements to be aware of when turning off iCloud Photo Library on only one device:

  • You must have iCloud Photo Library actively enabled on at least one other iOS device or Mac. Your photos need somewhere to continue syncing to in iCloud.
  • This only works for iOS devices, not Macs. On a Mac, iCloud Photo Library is all or nothing - you can't disable it for only that Mac.

As long as you meet these requirements, you can follow these steps to turn off iCloud Photo Library on your chosen iOS device while keeping it on for your other devices.

How to Turn Off iCloud Photo Library on an iOS Device

Turning off iCloud Photo Library on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is easy once you know where to look in the Settings app:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iOS device.
  2. Tap on your name at the very top of Settings (your Apple ID).
  3. Select iCloud.
  4. Tap Photos.
  5. Toggle the switch off for iCloud Photo Library.
  6. Tap Disable & Delete if prompted. This keeps your existing synced photos on the device but disables future syncing.

And that's it! iCloud Photo Library is now disabled for only that device. Your photos will continue uploading to iCloud from your other devices.

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What Happens When You Turn Off iCloud Photo Library on a Device

When you turn off iCloud Photo Library on a device, here is what happens:

  • New photos or videos you take on that device will not be synced to iCloud or your other devices. They remain local on that device only.
  • Existing photos and videos that were previously synced down to the device from iCloud will remain stored on the device. They are not deleted.
  • If you wish to manually delete the synced photos to free up space, you can do that from the Photos app. Just be sure not to delete anything you don't have saved elsewhere.
  • Any changes or edits made to existing photos on the device will remain local. They do not sync back up to iCloud.
  • Albums and People organization done on that device remains local only. Your overall iCloud photo library organization is not affected.

So in summary, turning off iCloud Photo Library isolates that device, while everything else continues syncing across your other devices normally through iCloud.

Re-enable iCloud Photo Library on a Device

If you change your mind later on, you can follow the same steps above to re-enable iCloud Photo Library on that device:

  1. Open Settings and tap your name.
  2. Select iCloud > Photos.
  3. Toggle iCloud Photo Library back on.
  4. Your photos will begin syncing to iCloud from that device again.

Just be mindful of storage space, as turning it back on means all your photos will again take up space on that device as they sync down.


Turning off iCloud Photo Library for only one device while keeping it on for your other devices is handy for managing storage, customizing which photos sync where, and troubleshooting issues. Just remember your photos need to continue syncing to iCloud from at least one device. Follow the steps in Settings to toggle it off or back on anytime for that individual device. With strategic use of iCloud Photo Library, you can get the optimal photo experience across all your Apple devices tailored to your needs.


Here are some common questions about selectively turning off iCloud Photo Library:

Does turning it off delete my photos?

No, disabling iCloud Photo Library on a device keeps the existing synced photos stored on that device. Nothing is deleted unless you manually remove photos.

What about live photos?

If you disable iCloud Photo Library on a device, any live photos will remain as regular photos, no longer animated. The live photo effect requires iCloud syncing.

Can I delete synced photos individually?

Yes, you can delete specific photos from the Photos app on your device to free up space, if needed. Just don't delete photos that aren't backed up anywhere else.

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