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iCloud Photo storage and synchronisation #1
Pete's picture
by Pete
February 12, 2015 - 11:51am

After having read a few reviews about the 10.7.3 Photos app, i’m still unsure, whether iCloud Photo storage is an all or nothing approach.

I.e. you can tell Photos to use iCloud Photo storage and then decide to either store your whole library on iCloud or store a local copy on your Mac as well. I assume most members don’t even think about storing all their photos on iCloud due to the size of their library.

So what happens, if you agree to use iCloud storage and decide to store a local copy on your Mac as well but your Library is exceeding the size of your iCloud storage volume?

  • Will it simply do not use iCloud storage at all?
  • Will it upload to iCloud until your volume is full?
  • What part gets uploaded? The newest only, the oldest only, a user defined selection?
  • Is this process dynamic, aka will iCloud delete the oldest pictures, when new ones are added to the Library (and probably replacing an older one to make space)?
  • Are image adjustments on photos, that are not on iCloud, still synced to other devices? Is that image then pushed to iCloud?
  • Can you tell Photos not to upload the RAWs to iCloud?
  • Can you share your local Library (on a NAS) between Macs? At least the RAWs? And still have your adjustments sync between the Macs?

Well, a lot of questions …


Thomas Emmerich's picture
by Thomas Emmerich
February 13, 2015 - 5:27am

You can choose one Photos library on your Mac to sync with iCloud Photos. You can have as many libraries as you can fit on your Mac but only one can sync with iCloud Photos.

That one library is all or nothing. The entire library will sync with iCloud if you enable it. There is an option to keep optimized photos on the Mac in the case where you have a small HD on your Mac (e.g. Macbook Air). In that case it treats your Mac just like an iOS device and only keeps a prescribed amount of full size images and then the rest are just thumbnails. The full-size images are always in the cloud. So you must have enough iCloud space to store the entire full-size library you have set to sync. I don’t know what happens once you fill that space up but I’m sure it will stop syncing until you delete something or buy more space. As sure as one can be without having tried it.


Pete's picture
by Pete
February 13, 2015 - 9:21am

Thanks Thomas.

So by using multiple libraries, you could make a “work” library the primary library, that syncs with iCloud Photos, and thus have your recent edits sync between your devices.

Whether you can use this as a workflow depends on how easily you can move stuff between libraries. In iPhoto this is cumbersome, in Aperture it is easy with projects. As there are no more projects in Photos, I wonder, how you can transfer a project like set of pictures between libraries.   

Thomas Emmerich's picture
by Thomas Emmerich
February 15, 2015 - 12:55am


There is currently a helper app called iPhoto Library Manager that helps a workflow with multiple iPhoto libraries. It doesn’t currently do anything with Photos libraries. However, the developer stated in their blog they hope to do the same with Photos but it’s early days. Here’s the blog entry.


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