Downloading photos from iCloud

The Photos app for Mac, included with the latest OS X, is the best place to keep all your precious digital pictures and videos. Whether you take them on your iPhone or iPad – or import from a camera, iPhoto or Aperture – Photos safely stores the pictures in its library. No more hunting through folders!

We recommend turning on iCloud Photo Library so all your photos are stored safely on Apple’s servers. You’ll have the option of optimizing storage on your Mac so your library takes less space on your drive. Your original photos & videos are kept safely on iCloud.

Whether you use iCloud Photo Library or not, here’s how to download full-res copies on your Mac.

  1. Open the Photos app and show the sidebar.
  2. Click Photo Stream and select all desired photos.
  3. Drag all photos to the Photos section to import them to the computer’s library. Do not import duplicates.
  4. Repeat for shared photo streams, if desired.
  5. Choose Photos–Preferences and click iCloud. If iCloud Photo Library is on, click Download Originals to This Mac. It may take several hours for all photos & videos to download. Don’t sign out of iCloud until this is complete.

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