Free up space on your iPhone or iPad with these iCloud Photo Library tricks.

Pictures and video take up a ton of storage space, and for good reason — all that data is what makes your photographs and snaps look phenomenal. But you don't have to compromise: Apple's iCloud Photo Library lets you store all your images and video online, freeing valuable storage space on your device.

How to enable Optimized Storage for iCloud Photo Library

When you turn on iCloud Photo Library, Apple will automatically and securely upload all your device's images and video up to iCloud, and download any images from other devices you've hooked up like your Mac.

As a result, you'll have access to your entire photo library on your iPhone. This is great if you want to find a picture from 2001... but not so great for your iPhone's storage. Luckily, you can avoid the free space crunch by using the Optimize Storage option, which only stores the latest images you've taken or viewed on your devices; the rest are stored at thumbnail-size, and automatically downloaded to the device at full resolution if you view, edit, or share them. Here's how to enable it.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap Photos & Camera.
  3. Select Optimize Storage.

Once you do, you're set: iCloud will automatically remove full-resolution versions of older images from your device, storing only the most recent images locally. (The rest of your images continue to be stored safely at full resolution in iCloud, and on any other devices where you've selected the "Download and Keep Originals" option.)

It may take a bit for these changes to take place, so don't despair if you don't initially see your storage space drop.

A few ways to free up iCloud storage

Getting an "out of space" error when you try to sync all your images? If it's iCloud itself where you're running into limitations, you've got a few options.

Option A: Clean up your image library

There are a few places in the Photos app you can visit to help spring clean your iCloud Photo Library and reduce its size. First, it's helpful to browse through your most recent images; if you have any extra selfies or extraneous video you no longer want to keep, that can help. You can even visit their dedicated folders in Photos > Albums: You can find storage space offenders in Selfies, Videos, Slo-Mo, Time-lapse, Bursts, Screenshots, and Panoramas.

Note: You can't currently delete files solely from iCloud or solely from your device — delete a photo or video from your iPhone, and it's gone everywhere.

Once you've done your initial sprucing, check the Recently Deleted album; it stores any images you've initially deleted for 30 days before getting rid of them for good — in case you've had a change of heart. If you just want those pictures gone, however, you can press Select, then Delete All to remove them from iCloud Photo Library.

Option B: Buy more iCloud storage

If you don't want to worry about managing your images, and you have a few bucks to spare, I highly recommend ponying up a few bucks a month to increase your storage space. By default, you get 5GB on iCloud, but you can upgrade to 50GB by paying $0.99/month, 200GB for $2.99, and 1TB for $9.99. Here's how you can upgrade.

Questions?

Any other tips, tricks, or questions about freeing up your local storage or iCloud space? Let us know in the comments.