iCloud Photos taking up so much storage on my Mac…

Hi Guys,

I have one of the new M1 16 inch MBP’s, I went with 500GB of storage as I am often attached to a Monitor with a Thunderbolt Dock & SSD for additional storage, plus a lot of my work uses cloud storage. I was reviewing my current storage usage today, to find that my iCloud Photos are taking up 130GB on my Mac, although I have storage set to be optimised.

This seems to be a lot of spaces, based on the fact that the same library takes up circa 50gb on my iPhone & Ipad. I rarely use Photos on the Mac, so there isn’t a huge use case for it taking up such a large amount of storage, although u still want to be able to access it when necessary. It just seems a crazy amount of room when the home for my photos should predominantly be in the cloud. Is there anyway I can adjust this so my more thumbnails are on my Mac etc and it condenses the amount of storage used?

Thanks Guys

Hi, Shawster,
You know, this doesn’t exactly answer your question. But I go through my photos and weed them out every week. I force myself. Like I really need 7,600 photos as it is, right?

Where did you find out how many GB is in use on the Mac?

Hi Katie,

Yeah,I may have to do this, I just would of thought that Apple would have done a better job of optimising the storage or give me an option to do so, based on my usage of Photos on my Mac. See attached photo that states my storage .

About once a year, I sort by date, and move everything to an archive folder on my NAS. Some people burn to CD/DVD. Or delete.

I’ve moved my photo library to an external drive.


Did the same with mine. Use a Samsung t5 drive attached to my M1 Mac mini. Works perfect


I’ve found this and I think macOS will delete some from the laptop as it needs it, but I do agree - the storage of optimised storage is still quite high. I mean I’ve got 30GB used, which is about 50% of my storage space.

One of the things I played with was creating a separate APFS volume for the photos file with the maximum size that I wanted it to be - however, I found that this wasn’t downloading updates to the photos library so that’s not really an acceptable solution either.

I don’t want to take images out of Photos as then I lose out on the functionality of the photos app, such as grouping memories, names of faces etc, which for me is the whole reason for using it - if I didn’t want that, I’d just store them in folders on my PC and ignore Photos and the meta data availability.

Exactly what I use… great little drives!

How are your photos taking up 130GB when only 110GB are in use?

You’ll probably find that if all of your devices (including your iPad and iPhone) are using the Optimise Storage feature, if they have the spare space (e.g. the 380GB not used on your mac) they’ll download more photos.

I don’t have them optimized except on an older iPad mini. I don’t trust them (or anyone else), really. I want the best quality if I go to print something.

Then I back them up on this little device every couple of weeks which takes all of five minutes.

1 Like

It is indeed a bit odd to see so much space occupied with optimisation enabled. I wouldn’t think too much about it. As soon as macOS starts to need more disk space for something, this should get offloaded. I would only start worrying when your Mac’s storage gets filled up and photos are still there.

That is, obviously, unless you have just put a 100 GB worth of files into that library. In that case the files obviously would need to upload first.

1 Like

Moving your photos to an external drive won’t reduce the icloud storage as it will still sync (unless you turn that off).

I’ve used Powerphotos for years for this. It easily allows you to create other photo libraries and you can choose which one you sync with icloud. When my icloud photos gets too big I just copy all the photos to my archive library. This keeps photos lean on icloud. You could do it by creating more libraries and managing manually, but powerphotos can detect duplicates and allows you to drag and drop between libraries.