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Guide: Fix ‘iCloud Photos Not Downloading to PC’ Issue
On PC, iCloud Photos provides an easy way to access all photos taken from your iOS devices. But in reality, it’s nowhere near the convenience that a Mac’s Photos app offers – in fact, it feels clunky, outdated, and, worst of all, unintuitive. And therein lies the problem.
You may have noticed numerous instances where iCloud Photos simply won’t download photos taken from other devices. This usually happens if you have not set anything up iCloud the right way to start with. But even worse, download problems also occur due to certain technical complications.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the troubleshooting solutions tips to make iCloud Photos work normally again.
Haven’t updated iCloud in a while? Then you really should. Apple isn’t really focused on providing the best experiences on PC, they fix things there on a regular basis.
If you have not set up automatic updates for downloaded Apple applications, then you need to do that manually before diving into any of the other fixes.
Step 1: Find and launch Apple Software Update from the Start menu. Wait while the updater searches for available updates.
Step 2: If there is an update for iCloud, select it and click Install.
Note: Also consider updating other Apple software like iTunes while you’re at it.
If your photos download correctly again, you’ve solved what’s bothering you. But if not, let’s move on.back to menu ↑
Configure iCloud Photos
iCloud Photos has a lot of weird terminology that makes it confusing to deal with at times. And that means you can never expect it to function right out of the box like most applications do today.
To check if you have set up iCloud Photos to properly download your photos, you need to dive into the Photo Options panel.
Step 1: Click the iCloud icon in the system tray and then click Open iCloud Settings.
Step 2: Click Options next to Photos to open the Photo Options panel.
Step 3: Make sure both iCloud Photo Library and Download new photos and videos to my PC are turned on.
It’s quite likely that you just turned on iCloud Photo Library with Download new photos and videos to my PC turned off, in which case newer photos won’t be downloaded automatically.
Note: iCloud Photos may not be able to download your photos even after you enable the Download new photos and videos to my PC option. In that case, you need to start a download forcefully. Below is a detailed section on the procedure.back to menu ↑
Turn on My Photo Stream
If you have certain iOS devices with only My Photo Stream turned on, iCloud Photos will not download newer photos from such devices unless your PC also has its own Photo Stream turned on.
To feature, just go to the Photo Options panel again and check the box next to My Photo Stream. When you are done, click Done to save the changes.
Keep in mind that My Photo Stream only syncs photos and not videos between devices. The Photo Stream should also appear directly under the Downloads folder – instead of subfolders per year – as soon as you open iCloud Photos.
Note: Even after you enable My Photo Stream on your PC, only the latest photos will be displayed up within the photo stream. To download older photos to your PC, you must enable iCloud Photo Library on any iOS device that does not have it enabled.back to menu ↑
iCloud has a number of processes that cover everything from iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library to iCloud services. Forcing these processes out of memory forces iCloud to shut down, which is quite useful as the application doesn’t provide a way to shut down normally.
If downloads don’t happen simply because a copy of iCloud Photos is malfunctioning, this should fix the problem for good.
Step 1: Right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager.
Step 2: Select and end the labeled processes on the Processes tab iCloud iCloud drive iCloud Photo Library iCloud Photo Stream, and iCloud services
That should shut iCloud out of memory. Just reload the application and it should log in automatically. Hopefully all stuck downloads will now automatically resume.back to menu ↑
Force download photos
You have made sure iCloud Photos is set up up correctly, My Photo Stream had turned on and even restarted iCloud. Yet you won’t find any newer photos – or maybe even photos – that you download at all.
Sometimes the best way to get iCloud Photos to work properly is to force the application to restart a download. However, any photos that have already been downloaded before will not be replaced – instead, iCloud Photos tends to create duplicate folders.
But since downloads are grouped by year, you can choose to easily remove the original duplicates afterwards.
Step 1: Click the iCloud icon in the system tray and then click Download Photos.
Step 2: You should now be a pop-up box, where you can select photos available on iCloud for download, grouped by year.
Just select All to select the entire iCloud Photo Library to download. Alternatively, you can choose to download files by year, which is quite useful if you only want to download recent photos – selecting photos by month would have been better, but this is the best you will get.
Click Download to start a download. It will take a while, but your photos should show up in the Downloads folder in iCloud Photos.
Visit iCloud Photos and you should see new folders created per year, for example 2018 (2) if you have re-downloaded the photos for a specific year.
All subsequent downloads should appear in this folder, and not in the original folder, which you can delete if you are sure that all images are in the new folder.back to menu ↑
Sign in and out of iCloud
Forced download should have worked. But if it still doesn’t sync newer photos automatically, then signing in and out of the iCloud Settings app is another viable method to fix an adamant iCloud photo installation not functioning normally.
However, doing this will delete all photos that have already been downloaded to your PC. While you log back in everything should be synced back to your drive, it is in your best interest to go back up your data to another location just in case.
Note: Before proceeding, you may want to copy all content stored under the iCloud Drive and iCloud Photos location in File Explorer to a separate location if you are concerned about the safety of your data.
Step 1: In the iCloud Settings app, click Sign Out.
Step 2: On the confirmation dialog, click on Remove from PC.
Warning: This action will delete all photos and other iCloud Drive data stored on your PC.
Step 3: Click Keep a copy to still keep your calendars, contacts and tasks on your PC. Alternatively, you can choose the Delete from Computer option to delete everything as they will be synced again afterwards, but with the Keep a copy option you are on the safe side.
Step 4: Restart your PC and sign back into iCloud. Also make sure all settings are properly configured and initiate a forced download if iCloud Photos crashes. You can probably expect normal functionality from now on.
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Download modified photos from iCloud
With iCloud Photo Library, iOS and MacOS devices sync all changes to photos seamlessly.
However, iCloud Photos on PC isn’t the most intuitive of apps, and if you expected it to re-download photos that were subsequently modified on another device, you had high expectations.
Therefore, the only way to download them is to do it manually from iCloud.com.
Step 1: Click the iCloud icon in the system tray, then click Go to iCloud.com. iCloud.com should load up in your default browser, where you will then need to sign in with your Apple ID credentials.
Step 2: Click Photos to open your photo library.
Step 3: Select any modified photos you want to download. To select multiple items, simply hold down the Alt key during the selection process.
Step 4: Hover over the download icon and then click for a few seconds. On the pop-up menu that is displayed up, check the radio button next to Most Compatible, and then click Download.
Note: Any photos you download directly from iCloud.com are saved to the default download location for your web browser.back to menu ↑
Change the download location
iCloud Photos is automatically configured to download photos to your primary system partition, but it can be populated up pretty fast if you sync large amounts of photos and videos to your PC. And if your storage is nearly full, don’t be surprised if iCloud Photos doesn’t download your photos properly.
While you can use Windows 10 features like Storage Sense to clean up junk files in a jiffy, you can also consider moving your iCloud Photos storage location to another partition.
Note: Any photos that have already been downloaded to the original location will be deleted and downloaded again to the new location you are about to select. Consider support up all important photos if you are not sure if certain pictures are not present on iCloud.
Step 1: In the Photo options, click Change next to Download new photos and videos to my PC.
Step 2: Choose a location within an alternate partition – you can also choose to create a new folder right away if you prefer. Once selected, click OK and then Done to save the changes.
iCloud should now start downloading your photos again, and it may take a while if you have a huge picture library.back to menu ↑
Have you downloaded your photos?
Did you manage to finally download those annoying photos to your PC? Excellent! Of course, iCloud Photos is a mess on the PC so don’t expect to be out of the woods just yet – you may have to go through this troubleshooting tips once in a while to make things right.
I’m hoping for a dedicated iCloud Windows Store app here, but given the recent re-release of iTunes in the Windows Store, it doesn’t look nice from that perspective either.
Any ideas? Share it with us in comments.back to menu ↑
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