A few years ago, I said goodbye to my mid-level digital camera and just started using my iPhone as my camera of choice. After all, the best camera is always the one that you have with you, and I always have my phone with me. It wasn’t until this year’s Automattic meetup that that I realized I was transferring photos from my phone to my computer manually via AirDrop, as if I was still treating my phone like a separate unconnected camera. “Surely there is a better way?” I thought, and that better way was right in front of my face the whole time.
Enter iCloud Photo Library, a cloud-based library which is accessible by all of your Apple devices. If you take a photo or video with your iPhone or iPad, or add one to your library on your Mac, it’s immediately sent to the library in iCloud and visible across all of your Apple devices. It’s simple, it’s magic, and it reminds me of having wallet photos. If I want to show someone a photo or get the urge to publish one online somewhere, I don’t have to explain how sad I am that I don’t have the photo on me, because I already have access to my entire library on my phone.
I had heard great things about iCloud Photo Library, but had resisted because I knew I’d absolutely have to buy more iCloud storage since the free 5GB just wasn’t going to work out. Fortunately, Apple recently launched a 200GB plan at only $2.99/month that I could share with my wife for her photo library too, and that was exactly what we needed. After buying more storage, I switched on iCloud Photo Library in the Photos app on my Mac, and the upload of everything completed in about 6 hours. Now, the 2,471 photos and videos I have worth keeping are accessible on both my Mac and my phone.
If you do choose to switch to iCloud Photo Library, and I very much recommend that you do, please keep in mind that it is not a dedicated storage solution. Deleting a photo from the library on any connected device will remove it from the iCloud Photo Library and any other device using it too. Also, keep in mind that each device allows you to choose if you want to download the originals to it. My originals are being downloaded to my Mac’s library, like a second backup, while I save space on my phone by not having it download any.
If you aren’t an Apple device user or you aren’t a fan of iCloud, there are many similar options to choose from, like Google Photos and Amazon Prime Photos. Either way, do consider some sort of cloud-based photo library, so you can always carry your memories with you wherever you go and not have to worry about how you’re going to get your new photos to your computer.