I recently wrote a Mac 911 column titled, “Yes, if you delete your photos from iCloud Photo Library, they’re deleted everywhere.” I thought that might close the door on the question. Instead, I continue to get perfectly reasonable variants on it.

If you have iCloud Photo Library enabled, and want to clear out space occupied by photos and other media:

  • Do not delete images or videos from iCloud.com.
  • Do not delete images or videos from the Photos app in iOS for any device logged into the same iCloud account.
  • Do not delete images or videos from Photos for macOS for any computer logged into the same iCloud account.
  • Do not go into the Recently Deleted album and delete media.

If you delete in any of the first three cases, your media will be put into the Recently Deleted album and deleted after about a month permanently. If you delete the contents of the Recently Deleted album, they’re gone forever.

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