How to Use "Download and Keep Originals" in iCloud Photo Library

While you use iCloud to backup photos from iPhone or iPad, you will be given two options, Optimize iPhone Device and Download and Keep Originals. However, many of you may ignore or even do not know it.

As a result, they will find the photos exported to computer via some third-party tools are not full resolution.

What are they? How to use it?

Here, we will show the comprehensive introduction of it and the guide to use it.

Download iCloud Photo

Part 1. Introduction of "optimize iPhone Storage" and "Download and Keep Originals"

"Download and Keep Originals" and "optimize iPhone Storage" are the options given to you while you set up photos backup to iCloud on your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch.

iCloud photos keep all of your photos and videos in original and high-resolution version, while you turn on iCloud photos backup.

Back to your iOS device, it will leave the two options for you.

"Download and Keep Originals" means that the photos that will be backed up to iCloud will be kept original and full-resolution both on iCloud and iOS device.

"optimize iPhone Storage" means that the pictures that will be backed up to iCloud will be replaced with optimized version on iOS device, and full versions are stored in iCloud.

So the difference between those two options is the photos resolutions that are kept on your iOS device after iCloud backup.

Part 2. How to Use "Download and Keep Originals" and "optimize iPhone Storage"

"Download and Keep Originals" or "optimize iPhone Storage"?

The option will be decided by yourself based on your own needs.

If your iPhone has enough space, it will be OK to store original photos in full-resolution on iPhone. However, once your iPhone is low on space, "optimize iPhone Storage" will be good and automatically enabled, smaller and space-saving photos and videos are kept on your device.

For manually changing the settings, the steps are very easy to follow.

Step 1. On your iOS device running, go to "Settings" >"your name" > "iCloud" > "Photos".

For iOS device running in iOS 10.2 or earlier, tap "Settings" > "iCloud" > "Photos"

And then to turn on "iCloud Photos".

Step 2. Hit "Optimize iPhone Storage" or "Download and Keep Originals" option as you wish.

Download and Keep Originals

You may need: How to Share Photos with iCloud Photo Sharing

Part 3. How to Access Full-Resolution Photos on iPhone

As mentioned above, once you select "optimize iPhone Storage", your iPhone will keep the optimized images with smaller size. In another word, the images on your iPhone will be not full-resolution.

When you access your iPhone photos on computer with some third-party tools, you will find the image may be not clear as its originals.

Want to access the full-resolution photos? Here are 3 ways, download iCloud photos to iPhone, download iPhone photos from iCloud, and disable photos iCloud backup.

You may want to know: How to access iCloud photos on various platforms

Download Original Photos from iCloud on iPhone

For downloading the original full-resolution photos on iPhone, you just need to switch from "optimize iPhone Storage" to "Download and Keep Originals" in Part 2.

Then you could use the third-party apps like MobieTrans, iPhone Transfer, etc. to easily transfer photos from iPhone/iPad/iPod touch to computer with original high quality.

Transfer contacts, photos, videos, music and messages from iPhone/iPad/iPod to computer, sync data between iOS devices, and add data from computer to iOS device directly.

Free DownloadFree Download


Don't miss: How to sync photos from iCloud to Android

Disable Photos Backup on iCloud

The second option is to turn off photos backup on iCloud.

Go to "Settings" >"your name" > "iCloud" > "Photos" > Toggle "iCloud Photos" to OFF.

For iOS device running in iOS 10.2 or earlier, tap "Settings" > "iCloud" > "Photos" > Toggle "iCloud Photos" to OFF.


Note: Once you disable photos backup on iCloud, the photos synced to iCloud before will store in iCloud, but it will not sync to iCloud later. However, the photos backed up to iCloud will still keep optimized versions on your iOS device.

Download Original iPhone Photos from iCloud to Computer

If you only want to access the photos from iCloud to computer in full-resolution, you just download the photos from

Go to on your computer > Sign into your iCloud account with Apple ID and password > Click "Photos" > Select one or more photos and videos that you want to download > Click and hold the cloud icon in the upper-right corner of the window > Choose "Unmodified Original" to download the original full-resolution photos to your computer.

Note: Surely, the photos on your iPhone are still kept as optimized version. Want to get the downloaded full-resolution photos into iPhone? Check here.


Here we mainly talk about the options of "Download and Keep Originals" and "optimize iPhone Storage" in iCloud Photos. You can use it to help free up iPhone storage or keep the full resolution of images on a high-storage iPhone. When you use third-party apps to transfer photos from iPhone, you had better keep original full-resolution images on device.

Which one will be your choice? Leave your comments below.

More Reading