Add Photos To Icloud Drive From Mac

Active4 years, 11 months ago

I have 60 GB of photos on an external hard disk.
I also have a MacBook Air with an empty iPhoto app. The MacBook has 15 gigs left of HD space.

Can I import these photos directly into the iCloud Photo Library?

  1. ICloud Photo Library on your iPhone/iPad or Mac can automatically upload and store the entire library in iCloud to aces photos and videos from all your devices. However, as we all know, there is only 5GB free for iCloud at the very beginning and the photo library can quickly eat up space.
  2. I can not seem to find a way to move all my photos in icloud to drive. I bought tons of storage in drive because I read that after a while photos will be deleted from icloud and I don't want that to happen. I even tried dragging photos from the photos app on my computer but it won't accept it in drive. MacBook Air, OS X El Capitan (10.11.3).

I can only find articles which explain how to upload your complete library to iCloud, after which it starts optimising for storage. However I don't have enough space to fit all my photos on the internal hard disk.

Jaime Santa Cruz

Now, you’re ready to import photos from your external hard drive. Use the Import option in Photos (file import) to import the photos you’d like to add to your iCloud library. Apr 21, 2021 Pause library uploads to iCloud. On your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, open the Photos app, go to the Library tab, and tap All Photos. Then scroll to the bottom of your screen. On your Mac, open the Photos app. Select Library in the sidebar, then click All Photos in the list of tabs in the toolbar. Answer (1 of 2): It’s very simple. First make sure you have an iCloud account and you’ve activated iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone or iPad. Plug in the external drive to computer.

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Idrive Photos Library


First, you will have to update to Photos app on OS X, as iPhoto is not compatible with iCloud Photo Library.Activate iCloud Photo Library and subscribe a storage plan that accommodates your pictures and anything else you have there (iOS Backups, for instance). Select the 'Optimize Mac Storage' on the Photos app Preferences > iCloud pane.

Then import batches of 10 GB or so of your pictures to the empty Photos app library; given you will have only 5 GB left I assume it will start optimizing right away. When you regain some space, you can add another batch.

Jaime Santa CruzJaime Santa CruzAdd Photos To Icloud Drive From Mac
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My work around is:

After importing turn on iCloud photo library on the macbook air (optimised) and voila.

Of course, this solution only works when you have a spare Apple computer with enough harddisk space.

Now that I think about it, this solution might also have worked with adding a new user to the macbook air, attach an external disk, make the photos app store it's library on the external disk and go through the same motions. If that actually works, I don't know. But might be worth a try for someone else having the same problem

I won't tag this solution as 'accepted' since it too is a work-around.


There is another way to get around this, if you are ok with having your Photo Library on the external disk too.


  • External HDD (Formatted in HFS+ or Journal) and connected directly (network storage doesn't work).
  • Photos App

Open Photos App, this will create a Photo Library in your Pictures folder.

Close Photos App.

Move the Photo Library to external disk

Open Photos App, and when shows an error for missing library, select the old library which is now moved to the external disk.

Go to Photos->Preferences->Set the library as Primary

Enable iCloud Photo Sharing, Optimise for Mac storage

Import Photos


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