It can be really simple to jump into iCloud Photos land. You may have done so already, without thinking, if you got a new iPhone. Before rushing in, I recommend importing pictures to Photos on your Mac manually first. This will speed up the process of getting in sync.

Let me know if you need help navigating this process. I’m happy to dispel your fears and hold your hand as we walk through.

iCloud Storage

Unless your library is super tiny, you probably need to pay for some storage. Apple currently offers three storage tiers: 50GB for 99¢; 200GB for $2.99; or 2TB for $9.99. Visit iCloud Preferences on a Mac or iCloud Settings on an iDevice to manage/upgrade storage.

If you want to share storage with others in an iCloud Family, you must choose at least the 200GB plan. Shared storage is just shared capacity; it does not mean that Photos libraries are shared among family members.

iCloud Photos

iCloud Photos is smart and seamless, as Apple describes. It uploads all of your pictures and videos from your Photos Library to iCloud. Then, if a device is short on capacity, it can replace the full resolution originals with “optimized” versions that take up less space.

If you need to edit or share a picture, your device downloads the original from iCloud. Any changes you make are uploaded to iCloud and your device downloads an updated version to store locally.

You can enable iCloud Photos in Photos Preferences on macOS and iCloud Settings on iOS. Note that My Photo Stream is included in iCloud Photos and unnecessary to enable separately.

Also, if you can spare the storage on your Mac, I recommend downloading originals instead of optimizing storage. This way, the originals will get backed up with Time Machine.

iPhone Storage

After you enable iCloud Photos on any devices where you want to use it, it may take several hours or even days to get all your pictures uploaded and in sync. However, when all is said and done, check out your iPhone Storage and see how little space is used by Photos.

My Photos Library is over 33GB, half of which is videos, and yet it all takes less than 2GB on my iPhone SE.

Last week, Apple refreshed the iPad and iMac product lines, and introduced a second generation of AirPods.

Today, watch the next round of product and service introductions in Apple’s event, “It’s show time,” at 10 am Pacific Time. (If you’re unable to watch live, expect a recording to be available later in the day.)