25 April 2021


Decluttering digital photos

Decluttering digital photos is something many of us put off – or maybe never do. It can feel daunting or perhaps it’s something we rarely (or never) think about. I’ve just started decluttering my online photos and have realised that it doesn’t have to be difficult.

I spent yesterday evening looking through photos from 2018. Most of them were of my daughter, Sophie (the image above is one of my faves).

Why? Well, I really kinda had to. My iCloud storage was at max capacity, so my phone wasn’t letting me take any more photos.

I briefly considered upgrading my storage plan to give me more capacity. That would have been the quick and easy solution. But I’d been meaning to sort through the thousands of photos on there for a long while. 

Did you know the internet’s carbon footprint is similar in size to that produced by the airline industry globally?

And everything we store on the cloud contributes to it – be it photos, videos, emails or documents. 

So I decided to reduce – to declutter the past 3 years of digital photos. 

And once I’ve decluttered, I don’t want to have to do it again.

Why decluttering digital photos isn’t easy

Photos – printed or digital – are often sentimental to us. 

Decluttering experts, including Marie Kondo, recommend leaving sentimental items until last when decluttering your home (or your life) because it’s much harder to let go of them. 

Deciding to rehome clothes that no longer fit us or surplus mugs might be fairly easy (it’s not always) but letting go of the possessions that hold links to our past is another matter.

With digital photos, I think it can be a bit easier. Not having a physical object to touch and hold, can distance you from the item, making us more objective. That’s not to say it’s easy to delete them.

Decluttering can also feel daunting because of the sheer volume of things that we need to sort through.

I’d put this off for so long because it felt like a time-consuming task (it is) – and of course the longer I put it off, the bigger the task became. 

But, as with all big challenges, when you break it down into small chunks and just focus on the first step, and then the next, and so on, it becomes much easier. 

So I just started. I set myself the goal of sorting through all the photos from 2018 this weekend. I’m half way through, so on track to achieve that goal. When I do, I’ll set the next goal straight away.

How to manage digital photos, so you don’t have to declutter

The earliest photos on my iCloud account were from 2018 because before that I’d been fairly organised. 

Every month or so, I would download photos I wanted to keep to my computer and delete them all from the cloud. (I don’t need to use the cloud as a back-up because I back up my hard-drive to an external drive regularly, after learning a hard lesson some years back.)

I obviously fell out of the habit in early 2018, for whatever reason. As soon as I’m done with this declutter, I’m breaking that habit back in!

In today’s world, it’s very easy to take lots of photos and store them online, without giving it much thought. It seems back in 2018 I was a bit trigger happy when taking photos, as there were often multiple shots of the same photo. 

I still tend to take a few photos of the same thing. However, these days, I habitually spend a few minutes at the end of each day looking through my photos and deleting any photos I don’t want to keep.

Keeping on top of what we’ve got stored on our phone and in the cloud is much easier when we do it as we go.

Do you need to declutter your photos? Have you recently done it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


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  1. gosh I need to do this but it feels massive. maybe you've inspired me to try! lots of photos come through from our family whatsApp group and they drive me nuts!

    1. Hi Helen, I felt exactly the same when I started decluttering my digital photos. My advice is don't try and do it all in one go. Instead, do a little bit each week and go through a few months' worth of photos at a time (or whatever feels doable). You will get through them all and then if you manage your photos as you go, it really is so much easier (you can start doing this straight away, you don't have to wait until you've finished decluttering). Also, if you reframe the process in your mind and treat it as an opportunity to have a break from other, more stressful things (such as work) and an opportunity to look back over good times, that can help make it much more enjoyable and not just a task you have to do. Hope that helps! Steph

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