iCloud Photos

Apple would like people to use its devices and platforms exclusively, but it does at least acknowledge the sheer number of Windows users around the world. Using an iPhone or iPad and a Windows machine isn't at all uncommon, and as such iTunes and the core iCloud services are available on Windows 10.

One specific service is iCloud Photos. It's a relatively easy way to share your iPhone or iPad photos with your Windows 10 PC once you've got it set up. Here's what you need to know.

1. Download, install and set up iCloud for Windows

iCloud on Windows 10

Before you do anything you need to have iCloud for Windows installed and set up. The good news is it's an easy enough process. The even better news is we've got a complete guide to walk you through it, step-by-step. Find it at the link below.

2. Enabling on your iPhone or iPad

iCloud Photo Library

It goes without saying, but before you can share anything to your Windows 10 PC you need to make sure you've enabled everything on your iOS device. If you need a helping hand with that, check out the guide linked below courtesy of our pals over at iMore.

3. Enable sync on Windows 10


If you didn't take care of it already in the first step, the next thing you need to do is to enable iCloud Photos in iCloud for Windows.

  1. Open the Start Menu and navigate to the "iCloud" folder.
  2. In there you need to open the "iCloud" application.
  3. In the box that pops up, check the box next to "Photos."

That's all you need to do to turn it on.

4. Choose what to sync

iCloud Photos

In the box you enable Photos in during the previous step, you'll also see a button labelled "Options" next to Photos. This is where you choose what it is you wish to sync to your PC.

Click on Options and you'll be presented with what you see in the image above. Here's what you can do:

  • Photostream: This is a pretty simple way to share your iPhone and iPad photos with all of your iCloud enabled devices. It'll share everything you take and sync it to your Windows 10 PC. It'll also work in reverse and allow you to add photos from your computer that will then sync to iCloud and any iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV that's set up for it.
  • iCloud Photo Sharing: Choose the people you want to share photos with and allow them to add photos, videos and comments. Comments will show up right in the folder when you open it in Windows 10.

You can also change the folder that synced photos go into. By default it'll be set to go into Pictures\iCloud Photos, but you can change that to any other that you wish.

5. Quick Access

iCloud Photos

The steps above will leave you in a position where iCloud will sync your photos to your computer. The photos themselves will reside in the folder specified in the previous step, but iCloud for Windows installs a 'desktop app' for quicker, easier management.

Only it's not a desktop app as you might imagine. To locate it you can either go into the "iCloud" folder in the Start Menu and find "iCloud Photos," or just open File Explorer. iCloud Photos will be added here under "Devices and drives" in "This PC."

  • To add to Quick Access in File Explorer, right click on "iCloud Photos" and select "Pin to Quick Access."
  • To pin to the Start Menu, right click on "iCloud Photos" and select "Pin to Start."

6. Add Photos to a folder or Photostream

iCloud Photos

Once you open up iCloud Photos and you're viewing either your folders or Photostream you can add new photos right from your computer.

  1. Open the location you wish to share new photos to.
  2. Above the main window look for "Add photos or videos" (illustrated in the image above.)
  3. Choose the photos from your computer.
  4. Once you're ready, hit "Done."

The photos you've just selected will soon be available on the devices and to the other people you've allowed access to.

7. Create a new shared album

iCloud Photos

If you want to share a specific set of photos with friends or family who also use iCloud, there's a really easy way to do it.

  1. Open the location you wish to share new photos to.
  2. Above the main window look for "New shared album."
  3. Add the email addresses of the people you want to share with.
  4. Give the album a name.
  5. Click "Next."
  6. Select all the photos you want to add from your computer.
  7. Click "Done."

Now, all the photos you added to the folder will be synced to the devices of everyone you shared to. It's important to remember that you need to add their iCloud email address which may well be different to their regular email address, so always make sure to check if in doubt.

8. Unsubscribe from shared folders

iCloud Photos

If someone has shared a folder with you through iCloud but you're done with it and want to unsubscribe, you can do that too from iCloud for Windows.

  1. Select the folder you want to unsubscribe from.
  2. Click "Info."
  3. In the box that appears click "Unsubscribe" in the bottom left corner.

You'll now no longer see any photos from these folders.

You may not get as wide a range of features as perhaps on Mac OS X, but Apple does at least provide a comprehensive, if a little rudimentary, way to keep your iCloud Photo Library in order on Windows 10.

For more on iCloud Photo Library as a service, be sure to visit our pals at iMore and check out their ultimate guide.

For more Windows 10 tips be sure to visit our dedicated page here