How to Delete Photos From Mac But Not iCloud

It’s common to run out of storage, and your Mac will constantly remind you that you’re running low on storage so you can’t download new things. Well in such a scenario, you need to delete things to free up some space.

iCloud is a great service to sync up all your devices. But it comes with one caveat, if iCloud is enabled for your Photos, then you can’t delete them from your Mac without removing them from iCloud. This can be an issue if you just want to free up some space, because then you would lose your photos from everywhere. 

Well in this guide, we will talk you through how you can delete photos from your Mac but not from iCloud, then we will also tell you about several ways to optimize your Mac storage and how you can recover deleted photos.

Steps to Delete Photos From Mac But Not iCloud

The process is quite simple, just follow along:

  • Click the Apple icon on the top-left corner of your screen.
  • From there select System Preferences.
  • In System Preferences, click on Apple ID on the top-right of your screen.
  • Now click on iCloud to bring up iCloud settings.
  • In the iCloud settings, look for the Photos app and uncheck that box.
  • Now click “Yes” if you want to delete all of your photos from your Mac.

Once you have followed these steps, your photos on Mac will not be synced with iCloud. Now you can delete your photos from your Mac without losing them from iCloud.

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How to Optimize Storage on Mac

On macOS, you can make room on your Mac by optimizing its storage. To enable storage optimization, follow these steps:

  • Click the Apple icon on the top-left corner of your screen.
  • From there click on About This Mac
  • Click on Storage
  • Then click on Manage

Now macOS will calculate how much space is being used. Wait for it to finish calculating so you can see the accurate amount of used space. 

Click on Recommendations to see different ways to optimize your Mac storage. These recommendations are:

Store in iCloud

By selecting Store in iCloud, your photos and videos will be stored in iCloud Photos, documents and desktop folders will be in iCloud Drive, and messages and attachments will be in iCloud. This optimizes your storage by keeping only the recently opened files on your Mac when more space is required.

Optimize Storage

By selecting Optimize, your watched TV shows and TV movies will be removed, and only your recent email attachments will be kept on your Mac when you are running low on storage.

Empty Bin Automatically

By clicking on Turn On, all of the items that have been in the Bin for more than 30 days will be automatically erased.

Reduce Clutter

Click on Review Files to quickly find films, books, apps, files, and other items that are taking up space. Then you can decide to delete them manually if they are no longer needed.

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Recover Deleted Photos from Mac

If you have accidentally deleted photos from your Mac, then worry not because there are several ways to recover them. You can:

Recover Photos Using The Recently Delete Folder

If you have deleted your photos or videos from the Photos app, then you can easily recover them. Just follow these simple steps:

  • Open the Photos app from the Dock or the Applications Folder.
  • Open Recently Deleted from the left-hand window.
  • Here you can see all the photos that you have deleted in the past 30 days. Select the photos you want to recover.
  • Click the Recover button on the top-right to restore them.

Deleted photos and videos remain in the Recently Deleted Folder for 30 days, so you can recover them easily.

Recover Photos From The Trash

If you have deleted photos from some other app instead of the Photos app, then you can look for them in the Trash Bin. It is a special folder that stores your recently deleted folders and files for 30 days. Follow these steps to recover your photos from the Trash:

  • Click on the Trash icon on the Dock.
  • Search for the photos you want to recover.
  • Right-Click on the photo to open a drop-down menu.
  • Select Put Back to recover your photo.

Everything you recover from the Trash will be moved back to its original location.

Recover Photos From a Local Backup

macOS comes with a really good backup and restore tool called Time Machine. We highly recommend using it to backup your data because it can be really helpful in restoring lost data. So if you have already backed up your photos on Time Machine, then it is very easy to recover them. Just follow these steps:

  • Connect the storage device that has the Time Machine backup of your Mac.
  • Open the Finder window that displays the storage location of your lost data.
  • On the menu bar, click on the Time Machine icon.
  • Use Time Machine’s timeline and arrows to search for the photos you have accidentally deleted.
  • Select your photos and click the Restore button.

Once you have followed these steps, all your deleted photos will be restored to their original location.

Recover Photos From iCloud

If you haven’t turned off your Photos sync on iCloud, then you can restore your deleted photos from iCloud very easily. Follow these steps:

  • On your browser, go to
  • Enter your Apple ID’s username and password to login.
  • Click on Photos
  • On the left-hand window, click on Recently Deleted.
  • Select the photos you want to recover.
  • Click on the Recover button.

This method is very similar to the way we restore photos from the Photos app. The deleted photos remain in the Recently Deleted Folder for 30 days so you have plenty of time to restore them.

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