Fixed: Unable to Download Photos from iCloud to iPhone/PC

To browse or edit iCloud photos, you need to download them first. However, what can you do if you are unable to download photos from iCloud to iPhone or PC? Don’t panic, let this guide do you a favor.


By Demi / Updated on May 24, 2023

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Unable to download photos from iCloud

Every few months I like do a bulk download of all my iCloud photos on my computer, then save to my hard drive. Lately iCloud will only let me download photos and videos one at a time... If I choose 100 or 50 or 10, it won't download to my computer. Any suggestions please? Thanks.

- Question from Apple Community

It is convenient and time-saving to enable iCloud Photos function to keep photos on your iOS devices up to date. And when you need to browse or edit photos in iCloud in another iPhone, iPad, or Windows PC, you just need to download photos from iCloud to your device.

However, out of unknown reasons, you may be unable to download photos from iCloud to iPhone or PC but receive an error message.

cannot download photo

How can you get out of the issue from iPhone or PC? Don’t panic, this guide will explain you detailed solutions to help you out.

Why are photos not downloading from iCloud to iPhone/PC?

iCloud photos not downloading to iPhone/PC can be caused by a variety of factors and incorrect settings. The followings are some of the key causes of the issue.

• Unstable Internet connection. The downloading process requires a stable network connection. An unstable network connection can make the process interrupt or fail.
• Wrong settings on iPhone or PC. Wrong settings in iCloud Photos and its relative services can also lead to photos not downloading from iCloud to iPhone/PC.
• Software glitches and bugs. Sometimes, iOS errors or bugs will stop functionality, making iCloud photos cannot be downloaded.

Now that you have a general understanding of the reasons, you can start from there to solve the issue.

Part 1. Fixes to unable to download photos from iCloud to iPhone

The solutions below are nice tries to troubleshoot the issue. Make sure the device is signed in with the same Apple ID, and try the fixes one after another to get the issue fixed.

Fix 1. Check or reset network settings

A stable network condition is a prerequisite to download photos from iCloud. You can go to the Safari app and open a web browser to check if the network works properly. You can also turn on and off airplane mode to refresh your network on iPhone.

Besides, if your network condition is not stable, you can reset network settings to avoid network errors that troubles you. To reset network settings, please head to Settings > General > (Transfer or Reset iPhone for iOS 15 and later > Reset)> Reset Network Settings. Enter your password to make it.

reset network settings

Fix 2. Check iPhone storage space

If you don't have enough space on your iPhone to store photos anymore, iCloud won’t download photos to iPhone.

You can check iPhone storage space by going to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. If needed, you can head to this guide: iPhone storage full, to free up some space on your iPhone. And then, download photos from iCloud to iPhone again.

Fix 3. Toggle off Optimize iPhone Storage

If you’ve enabled the iCloud Photos setting Optimize iPhone Storage, you can save photos and videos on your iPhone in a reduced size to optimize your limited iPhone storage space. However, at the same time, you cannot download full-resolution photos.

In that case, you need to revert the setting to Download and Keep Originals. Here are the steps: On your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > Click iCloud > Photos > Select Download and Keep Originals.

turn on iCloud photos settings

Fix 4. Sign out & in iCloud account

Sometimes, a software error can make your iCloud inaccessible temporarily. You can try signing out of your account and back in again to reactivate the service.

Go to the Settings > [your name] > Scroll down the bottom of the screen, tap Sign Out. Wait for some time and sign in again, then, try to download iCloud photos again.

sign out of iCloud

Part 2. Fixes to iCloud photos won’t download to PC

Make sure your computer is under a stable Internet connection and signed in with the correct iCloud account. And try common solutions to fix iCloud photos won’t download to PC.

Fix 1. Check iCloud Photos settings

There is a lot of weird terminology used in iCloud Photos, which occasionally makes it difficult to understand. As a result, you need to check your settings of iCloud Photos to successfully download your photos under the Photos Options window.

Step 1. Click the iCloud icon from system tray to open iCloud settings > Click the Options besides Photos.


Step 2. Make sure the two options: iCloud Photos Library and Download new photos and videos to my PC are enabled. If you have enabled My Photo Stream in certain iOS devices, you also need to enable it on your computer to download newer photos.


Step 3. Finally, click Done to save your changes.

Fix 2. Update iCloud

If you haven’t set up automatic update iCloud for Windows software, you may need to manually check and update it from time to time. An outdated version of iCloud for Windows always fails to work smoothly, which can lead unable to download photos from iCloud. Therefore, it is suggested to follow the steps below to update it to the latest version.

Step 1. From the Start menu, search for and launch Apple Software Update > Wait until the updater searches for available updates.

check apple software update

Step 2. If there is an update for iCloud, select it and click Install to update it.

update iCloud for Windows

Fix 3. Force download photos

You make sure that you set up properly and iCloud for Windows is up-to-dated. But still, iCloud photos not downloading to PC, you may need to force download photos from iCloud.

Step 1. Click the iCloud icon on the system tray, and click Download Photos.

click download photos

Step 2. When the Download Photos and Videos window appear, select the files by year you’d like to download > Click Download to begin.

download photos by year

Wait for a while, then you can check photos in the Download folder in iCloud Photos.

Best iCloud alternative: Transfer photos among iOS devices and PC

Problems with the Internet frequently result in iCloud Photos troubles. What's worse, your photos uploaded to iCloud could be leaked and appear on a stranger's iPhone.

You can use FoneTool, a great offline iPhone data transfer tool, to make everything simpler. You may quickly and effortlessly transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone, iPad, or PC with this tool. Make sure you have all wanted photos saved on your iPhone, and follow the steps below to transfer photos from iPhone to computer.

Step 1. Free download FoneTool to your computer by clicking the icon below > Install FoneTool and connect iPhone to computer with USB.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2. Open FoneTool and click Phone Transfer > Select iPhone to PC and click Start Transfer.

iPhone to PC

Step 3. Click the plus icon to preview and select photos from your iPhone > Click OK to confirm.

choose photos

Step 4. Choose a destination to save iPhone files from Transfer Settings > Click Start Transfer button to import iPhone photos to PC.


If you need to add these photos to another iPhone/iPad, you can utilize the PC to iPhone function to make it.


The troubleshooting process does cost much time. Hope the fixes in this guide can help you when you are unable to download photos from iCloud to iPhone/PC.  

If you are looking for an iCloud alternative, FoneTool is an excellent tool for you to sync photos, as well as backup files on iOS devices. If this guide helps you, please share it with others.

Demi · Editor
Doris is an editor of AOMEI Technology as well as a good advisor in the area of iOS-related issues. She does well in finding solutions to people's problems. She enjoys traveling, gardening, and watching movies. She spends most of her free time with her pet and family.