How to Delete Photos from iPhone and Keep on iCloud

Managing the memory on an iPhone is a constant struggle, especially if you take a lot of photos and videos. While you may want the extra storage space on your iPhone, you likely want to keep all your pictures stored safely and are hesitant to hit that delete button.

Apple doesn’t make it necessarily easy to figure out how to get photos off of your device but keep them on your iCloud for use at a later time. For example, if you hit the delete option, no specific option will appear.

The guide on this page has a recommended set of steps that will keep you from permanently deleting pictures from your Apple iPhone while also letting you keep them on your iCloud.

Note – These steps were tested on iOS 15 but should be similar for other iOS versions.

How to remove photos from the iPhone but keep on the iCloud

Do NOT select the option to delete a photo after taking these actions. It will permanently delete a photo even if it’s on the iCloud. That’s simply how the iOS software works (as of the time of this writing).

Step 1 – From the home screen, navigate to and open your Settings app.

Step 2 – Select your profile/account.

This is the first option on the screen that says your name, with subtext for Apple ID, iCloud, Media & Purchases.

Step 3 – Select iCloud.

Step 4 – Select Photos.

Step 5 – Toggle on iCloud Photos.

This will automatically upload and safely store al your photos and videos in iCloud so you can browse, search, and share from any of your devices.

Step 6 – Select the option to Optimize iPhone Storage.

If your iPhone is low on space, phots and videos are automatically replaced with smaller resolution versions that use less memory on the device. You can download full resolution videos at any time from your iCloud.


How to check the memory on your iPhone and free up additional memory

If you want to see how your memory is being used after selecting this option and free up some more memory, follow these steps:

Step 1 – From the home screen, navigate to and open your Settings app.

Step 2 – Scroll to and select General.

Step 3 – Select iPhone Storage.

It may take a moment for the distribution to load.

Step 4 – Select Enable next to Offload Unused Apps.

This moves unused apps off the device but keeps your documents and data.

Step 5 – Select Enable next to Auto Delete Old Conversations.

This automatically removes all your messages and attachments that were sent or received over ONE year ago.


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