Using iCloud Photo Library
Discover how your photos are stored online and synced to your devices
iCloud Photo Library is Apple’s new method for making all your photos available on all of your devices, no matter what camera they’re taken with or which device’s photo library you import them into. To use it, your Mac must have Yosemite and your iOS devices must be running iOS 8.
In Photos’ preferences, click iCloud and check the iCloud Photo Library box. It starts uploading photos from its library to iCloud. This can take a while, so if you need bandwidth to, say, more reliably stream online video, return here and click the ‘Pause for one day’ button. (That button‘s behaviour then changes to enable you to manually resume photo uploads without waiting.)
Enable iCloud Photo Library in iOS 8 in Settings > iCloud > Photos. While connected to Wi-Fi, your iOS device will upload the photos it contains.
Both OS X and iOS offer a choice of whether photos are downloaded at full quality or as smaller versions optimised for the device you’re using. Bear in mind that you’ll need plenty of iCloud storage for all of your photos, and that it’s also used to store email, backups and more.
In Photos’ preferences, under General, is an option that determines whether image files you drag into the app are copied into the app’s monolithic library file. If you turn this off, dragged photos are referenced in their current location. This gives some freedom to organise the originals, but has a significant drawback: referenced photos aren’t uploaded to iCloud Photo Library. To determine if your library links to any photos in this way, switch to the Photos view and press ç+A to select everything. Next, choose File > Consolidate. If everything is stored inside the library, the app will confirm. Otherwise, you’ll be warned first that the process can’t be undone.
Note that iCloud Photo Sharing is a separate feature with a different purpose – to share photos with other people and, optionally, comment on them. See opposite to learn more.
With iCloud Photo Library enabled, photos taken with your iPhone are automatically added to your Mac.