How to Delete Photos from iPhone, But Not iCloud Photo Library?

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“My iPhone has run out of capacity. Can I delete photos off iPhone but keep them in iCloud? Any Help? Thank you in advance!”
There are lots of reasons why you might want to delete photos from iPhone, but not from iCloud:

  • Maybe you need to make more space on your iPhone, but you want to keep them in iCloud as a backup.
  • Maybe you have no reason to keep old pictures on your iPhone and would rather keep them in a central locations than have them scattered across a bunch of devices.

However, if you try to delete photos off your iPhone, in some cases you’ll also find that they get deleted off iCloud. How do you protect your photos and make sure that they’re only removed from your one device? Let’s take a look at how to do this.

Part 1: Why I Cannot Directly Delete Photos from iPhone, But Not from iCloud Photo Library?

The truth is that oftentimes you can’t actually directly delete photos from your iPhone without also deleting them from iCloud. The reason for this is that if you have iCloud Photo Library’s “Download and keep originals” function turned on, photos that are deleted from iPhone will be deleted from iCloud as well automatically.
iCloud photo library

To make matters more confusing, if “Optimize iPhone Storage” is turned on, then photos can’t be deleted from your iPhone or iCloud at all! This is because the original photos are actually stored on iCloud. Your iPhone and iCloud account are paired in this way and it’s hard to get them to behave separately from each other.

Part 2: How to Delete Photos from iPhone with Backup?

Want an easier, less restrictive way of deleting photos from iPhone but keep the copy? You can use iMyFone Umate Pro Win or Mac to bypass all of the problems listed above. Umate Pro is an application that allows manage iPhone files without hassle.

iMyFone Umate Pro: All-in-one iPhone Manager

Umate Pro iphone data eraser

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Windows version    Mac version

Steps to Delete Photos from iPhone with Backup

Step 1: Install Umate Pro on your computer. Connect your iPhone to your computer and open Umate Pro.
backup and delete photos

Step 2: Click Photos icon. Now the program will start to scan photos on your iPhone.
backup and delete photos

Step 3:After the scan finished, click on “Export & Delete”. Select the photos and click on “Export & Delete”.
backup and delete photos

Part 3: How to Delete Photos from iPhone, But Not from iCloud?

Logically, you will have to separate your iPhone’s photos from your iCloud account.

Way 1. Disable "iCloud Photo Library"

The first way to do this is by disabling the iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone. Follow these steps to do it:

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings.
  2. Tap on your name.
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. Tap Photos.
  5. Under Photos, you can slide a switch to turn off your iCloud Photo Library.
  6. To get rid of iCloud Photo Library on all of your devices, follow steps #1 to #3, but then go to iCloud Storage > Manage Storage > iCloud Photo Library, then choose Disable and Delete.

disable and delete iCloud photo library

Way 2. Sign out of iCloud Before Deleting Photos

Alternatively, you can also just sign out of your iCloud account before deleting the photos on your iPhone, by which you can delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud.

  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap iCloud.
  3. Tap where it says Sign Out. (You will have to scroll.)
  4. Tap Sign Out again to confirm.
  5. Choose whether you want to keep it on your iPhone or delete it from your iPhone.

You will have to go through these steps with every device that you want delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud.
Note also that if you sign back in, iCloud will automatically start sharing your pictures with the device again.
sign out of iCloud

Final Verdict

It may not be obvious at first how to delete photos from your iPhone, but not from iCloud. After following the suggestions above, though, you should be able to get it working. If it’s still giving you trouble, though, consider using iMyFone Umate Pro to simply back up and delete your photos.

Umate Pro is the safest iOS data eraser that will completely destroy data off iPhone, without leaving any trace. It can erase private messages, contact, call history, note, browsing history, etc. If you want to sell old iPhone for new iPhone X, please don’t forget to use iMyFone and completely wipe all the data off old device.