How to backup your iCloud Photo Library

How do you back up your iCloud Photo Library if online alone isn't enough? Like this!

iCloud Photo Library can contain irreplaceable photos and videos and, as such, you want to make sure you back it up right. Apple will keep copies online, subject to how much storage your plan has available, but you really want more than that. You want a local backup as well... and maybe more.

Note: Since you really do need sufficient drive space to store all your photos or videos, a desktop Mac with a big hard drive is best, or a laptop or desktop with a big external drive that hosts your local Photos library. Before proceeding, make sure you have enough storage to fit your needs.

How to download all your original iCloud Photo Library content to your Mac

  1. Launch Photos for macOS on your Mac
  2. Go to the Photos > Preferences menu (or type CMD + , (comma key))
  3. Click on the iCloud tab
  4. Click on Download Originals to this Mac

Once all your photos and videos have finished downloading to your Mac, you'll have a primary local backup.

How to make a second local backup of your iCloud Photo Library

Having one local copy of your iCloud Photo Library is good. Having more than one is better. Once you've checked the box to keep a copy of all your photos and videos on your Mac, if you already back up your Mac using Time Machine, or clone it using SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy, your iCloud Library will automatically be backed up as well. (And if you don't, now's a good time to start!)

How to make an online backup of your iCloud Photo Library

Even though iCloud Photo Library is, as the name implies, stored on iCloud, you should consider having a secondary online backup. The good news is, once you have your local backup, if you already use a service like BackBlaze or Crash Plan, you're also already getting that secondary online backup. (If not, also consider it a good time to start!)

Any iCloud Photo Library backup questions?

Have any questions about how to back up your iCloud Photo Library, or about backups or iCloud Photo Library in general? Drop them in the comments below!