iCloud Photo Library vs. iCloud’s 5 GB Free Storage Tier

Rui Carmo:

There is just no sane way to archive iCloud photos on your Mac once you’ve gone past the baseline 5 GB. None whatsoever. Zip. Nada.

Photos, like iPhoto before it, remains stubbornly autistic where it regards managing multiple photo libraries — it’s possible, but fiddly, error-prone and utterly incomprehensible to the average user.

And, more to the point, there is no way to move photos directly from one library to another. This last bit, as far as I’m concerned, is inexcusable.

Right now, the only sane way to cope seems to setup a smart folder inside Photos for items older than a given threshold and manually export (and then delete) originals from that — which renders all of your nice metadata useless. […]

Apple ought to build in to Photos an archival feature that allowed me to export items from my iCloud library to an archival one on my Mac, prompting me to do so upon reaching, say, 75% of my iCloud capacity (or another set threshold) to make things easier for the average user.

That archival process would create, say, an archive bundle per year, and copy across all the metadata and album associations you’ve painstakingly defined in Photos.

You’d then be free to move those around to backup storage at will, and clicking upon an archive would launch Photos with the archive temporarily open in the sidebar so you could move things back and forth.

Carmo makes some good points in this piece, but I think he’s conflating two different issues:

  1. 5 GB of storage is not enough, and most people are never going to budge from the free tier. 50 GB for just $1 a month is a good deal, but there are way too many people who just won’t budge from “free”, no matter how cumbersome the 5 GB limit makes their life. Surely Apple will eventually increase the storage capacity of the free tier; the sooner they do so, and the larger they make it, the better.

  2. Photos should make it easier to deal with very large libraries.

Carmo is focused on #2. I think #1 is the more pressing problem. I bet the number one reason people find they need multiple libraries in Photos is because they’re bumping up against their iCloud storage limit.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016