"Can I delete photos off my iPhone to free up capacity but keep them on iCloud and my iPad? My iPhone has run out of capacity. Thanks in advance." -- From Apple Forum
Nowadays, people increasingly love to record their life with photos or videos. When they take pictures or videos on iPhone, these media files will take up more and more storage space on iOS device, so they tend to sync photos to iCloud for backup or share. However, they find out that when they delete photos from iPhone, those photos that have backed up to iCloud also get removed. Actually, they only want to delete photos on iPhone to free up space and expect the synced photos still remain in iCloud. So how to reach this goal?
Why Can't I Delete Photos Only from iPhone, Not iCloud?
Generally speaking, it is true that you can not directly delete photos from your iPhone without deleting them from iCloud together. The reason is that you have enabled "Download and Keep Originals" feature on iCloud Photo Library, thus when you delete photos from iPhone, photos from iCloud will be automatically deleted as well.
Strangely, if you turn on "Optimize iPhone Storage" feature under iCloud Photo Library, you can't delete photos neither from iPhone nor iCloud at all. It is because the original photos are actually stored in iCloud. In this way, it is hard to manage the photos from iPhone or iCloud separately when iPhone and iCloud account are bound together.
So is it possible to delete photos from iPhone but not iCloud? The answer is positive.
To remove photos from iPhone but not iCloud, there are several ways to reach this goal.
Method 1. Disable "iCloud Photo Library" on iPhone
To delete iPhone photos only, you need to separate your iPhone's photos from your iCloud account. To do so, you need to turn off "iCloud Photo Library" on your iPhone.
1. Unlock your iPhone and launch Settings app;
2. Tap on your name, and tap "iCloud" > "Photos";
3. Under Photos page, just turn off "iCloud Photo Library" feature.
4. Go to iPhone albums to delete unwanted photos.
Thus, it will not delete photos from your iCloud any more.
(Note: To turn off iCloud Photo Library on all of your devices, you can go to "Settings" > "Photos & Camera" > "iCloud Photo Library" to turn it off.)
Method 2. Sign Out of iCloud before Deleting Photos
Or you can also simply log out of your iCloud account before deleting photos on iPhone. Thus when you delete pictures from iPhone, it will not delete photos from iCloud together.
1. Launch Settings app on your iPhone;
2. Tap "iCloud" under Settings page;
3. Scroll down to tap "Sign Out" option;
4. Tap "Sign Out" again on the pop-up window;
5. Enter your Apple ID password to turn off Find My iPhone as asked;
6. Tap "Turn Off" option to sign out of your iCloud account;
7. Delete photos from iPhone camera roll or other albums.
Thus iCloud photos will not be deleted together.
(Note: When you sign in back to iCloud later, iCloud will automatically sync your iPhone photos again.)
Method 3. Backup and Delete Photos from iPhone to Free Up Storage
Since syncing photos to iCloud is not that convenient when it needs to delete photos on iPhone separately but not iCloud, you can backup your iPhone photos to computer instead of iCloud. Thus you can easily manage and delete photos from iPhone to save storage space without losing them. To do so, you can rely on the Photo Transfer for iOS - Coolmuster iOS Assistant (Windows/Mac) to help you transfer photos from iPhone to computer all at once.
Coolmuster iOS Assistant is a professional iOS Data Manager, besides photos, you can also use it to manage (backup/export/import/delete) messages, contacts, calendars, videos, music, apps and etc. on iPhone/iPad/iPod, including iPhone 8/8 Plus/X/7 Plus/7/6/6 Plus/5S/5C/5, iPad Pro/Air/mini, iPad with Retina display, The new iPad, iPad 2/1 and iPod touch/Shuffle/Nano/Classic and etc.
Steps to back up and delete iPhone photos:
1. Download, install and launch the Coolmuster iOS Assistant on your computer and get your iPhone connected to PC with a USB cable.
2. Click "Photos" tab to preview and select desired photos for backup, and hit "Export" button to save them on your computer all at once.
3. Go to iPhone's Camera Roll or other albums, delete unwanted photos from iPhone. Thus even if iCloud's photos will be deleted together, you can find your photos from computer that you have backed up. Of course, if needed, you can download iCloud photos to computer (Mac/Windows PC) for backup as well.