How to access your iCloud photos on any device

Using iCloud is a simple and effective way to make sure the photos you take with your iPhone are backed up somewhere. But accessing those photos from different devices can be a bit confusing. We’ll go over how to find and view your iCloud photos on your iPhone, Mac, or PC. 


How to access iCloud photos on iPhone

As long as you have iCloud Photo Library turned on on your phone, then the pictures you see in the Photos app are your iCloud photos.  It's that simple. However, if you have Optimize Storage turned on, then the photos on your iPhone are just compressed, lower-resolution versions. The full versions are stored in iCloud. You can check if this setting is turned on by going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos.

Regardless of your iCloud storage plan, there’s a limit of some kind. And there’s no sense wasting the space you’re paying for on pics you don’t want anymore. Use Gemini Photos to quickly scan your library and delete similar photos, blurry images, and other clutter.

Download on the App Store


Why can’t I see my iCloud photos on iPhone?

One of the most common reasons your iCloud photos might not be showing up on your phone is because you don’t have iCloud Photos on. To check:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  2. Tap Photos.
  3. If you need to, tap on the toggle to turn on iCloud Photos.

Another reason could be that iCloud Photos has been restricted to update over Wi-Fi only. To check or allow it to update using your cellular data:

  1. Go to Settings > Photos > Cellular Data.
  2. Turn on Cellular Data if it’s off.
Screenshots: How to turn on cellular data for iCloud Photos

How to view iCloud photos on your Mac

It’s easy to take pictures and view them on your iPhone, and when you want to see those pictures on your Mac, it’s just as easy. There are actually two ways you can do it, with the Photos app or in your browser via iCloud.com

Access iCloud photos in the Photos app

As long as both your Mac and your iPhone are signed in to the same iCloud account, then similarly to the Photos app on your iPhone, you’ll be able to view your iCloud pictures from the Photos app on your Mac.

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Tap the Photos tab.

View iCloud photos in the browser (Safari, Firefox, or Chrome)

  1. In your browser of choice, go to iCloud.com.
  2. Sign in with your iCloud account.
  3. Tap Photos.
Screenshot: How to access iCloud Photos on a Mac using your browser

Why can’t I see my iCloud photos on my Mac

If you’re not able to see iCloud Photos when you’re using the Photos app, here are a couple things to check.

  • Make sure you’re running the operating system Mac 10.10.3 or later, which is a system requirement to use the Photos app and sync it with iCloud Photos.
  • Verify in System Preferences that iCloud Photos is turned on.
  • Make sure your Mac is connected to the internet. 
  • Check which iCloud account you’re signed into. You have to be logged into the same account on all of your devices for iCloud Photos to sync properly.

If you’re having issues with pictures not appearing when you view them through the browser, make sure you have iCloud Photos turned on on your iPhone.


How to access iCloud photos on a PC

Similar to the Mac, you can view your iCloud Photos in two places on your PC. One way is through the Files Explorer and the other is using your browser.

View iCloud photos in File Explorer

To look through your iCloud Photos in File Explorer you’ll first need to download iCloud for Windows. Once you’ve got it installed and have iCloud Photos turned on, then you can view your pictures when you:

  1. Open a File Explorer window.
  2. Under Favorites in the sidebar, there’ll be an iCloud Photos folder. Open it.
  3. Click to open the Downloads folder.
  4. You can view your photos by year or move them to another folder on your PC.

If you don’t see iCloud Photos listed under your Favorites, then you may need to re-install iCloud for Windows.


Access your photos in the browser

  1. In your browser of choice, go to iCloud.com.
  2. Sign in with your iCloud account.
  3. Tap Photos.

iCloud is a great tool not only for backing up your photos and videos, but also for keeping all your devices in sync. And it does that automatically. iCloud takes the hassle out of having to send photos back and forth between devices you own, and with these simple instructions, you’ll be able to access your iCloud photos on your Mac, PC, or any other device.

Gemini Photos
Too many iPhone photos?

Gemini Photos: Keep just the good ones