When iOS photos uses too much storage

I have been using Photos on macOS and iOS since they were introduced. I also jumped into iCloud Photo Library at it’s introduction. It’s not that unheard of that, as an early adopter, I run into issues from time to time. This latest issue was very tricky to figure out.

It all started when I made a iTunes backup of my iPhone 7. I do not have a lot of data on my phone, with the bulk being photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library. After the backup, my Mac was running low on available disk space and I discovered by looking at the backup in the Finder that it was over 50gb. This seemed too large so I started investigating.

First I looked in Settings on the iPhone in General -> Storage & iCloud Usage. iOS reported that I only had 70gb of 200gb free in my iCloud storage, which did not make since because I mostly had videos and backups in iCloud.

Tapping Manage Storage for iCloud revealed that my iCloud Photo Library was using 75gb, which made since, but my iPhone was using 50gb! This didn’t make sense, but it did match with the size of my iTunes backup.

Now the problem is, tapping my iPhone on this screen did not explain where the storage was being used. It claimed to be telling me this information, but the numbers simply did not match up. My largest usage of storage was iMovie at 7gb. It did not list Photos nor Messages.

I backed out to Storage & iCloud Usage, but this time I tapped Manage Storage under “Storage” instead of “iCloud” A ha! My photos and Camera was using 35gb, when it should have been using much less. Messages was using 7gb.

I verified that iCloud Photo Library had all of my photos by looking on iCloud.com. Next came something unexpected.

I turned off iCloud Photo Library and iOS told me it would remove Photos and Videos. I told it to go ahead and do this (I had several clones of my entire Mac with all of my photos) and when it was done, over 5000 photos and videos remained on the iPhone.

Several hours later, I realized I needed to remove these by hand. Import in Photos was doing nothing, so I used the Image Capture application on the Mac to download all photos and videos from the phone, just to be safe, and then used it to delete all 5000 photos and videos.

I was back to only using a few GB for photos. Next, I turned on iCloud Photo Library and iOS brought down all 13,800 photos.

Since then, my Photos has blossomed back to using 11gb, but the backup size is still only 14gb instead of 50gb.

These issues may not affect a normal user, but it never hurts to validate storage usage and expectations from time to time. iOS doesn’t make this very easy to understand where all of the data is being used, nor how to manage it, but it is far better than the hidden Library on macOS..


There is a lot of talk around WWDC. Apple will introduce HealthBook, home automation SDKs, a flat UI for OS X, etc.

Here is what I am hoping for:


  • Xcode 6 that doesn’t crash when compiling XIBs via the command line
  • Xcode 6 with better refactoring and editing tools (AppCodeque)
  • Xcode 6 with a better IB that allows for shared resources such as named colors across XIBs
  • Ability to ship alpha/beta versions of our in-production apps to opt-in/select customers via the App Store
  • App distribution (Testflight) built into Xcode
  • Better Xcode CI functionality around externally hosted GIT repositories that use submodules
  • UIKit on OS X
  • A better Feedback tool for submitting/tracking/communicating about radars
  • Elimination of useless Team Provisioning Profiles
  • A “fix” button in Xcode that does not break more than it fixes


  • Better keyboard (or even custom keyboards)
  • AirDrop to OS X
  • 100% Calendar parity (edit/create every type of event, such as M W F)
  • Better battery life
  • Better GPS accuracy when in Airplane mode
  • Widgets on homescreen
  • Siri that allows me to retry a command when one fails
  • Built in transit

What Apple’s SSL bug means to you

On Friday it was revealed that Apple has a very serious flaw in iOS 6, iOS 7, and Mac OS X 10.9.x.

You should stop what you are doing and update iOS now. Agile Bits has a good explanation on how to do this here:

1Password is not affected by the SSL bug (http://tinyurl.com/mxhj2vh)

As of this writing (Sunday night, February 23rd) Apple does not have a patch for OS X 10.9 Mavericks, but as said that one will come “very soon.” You can get that update by choosing “Software Update…” from the Apple menu. 10.8 and earlier do not appear to have this flaw.

To test your system, use gotofail.com

What’s the issue?

When your computer connects to the Internet and asks for a secure connection, it does so using one of several protocols. Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is one of them. When the data comes back, the operating system does checks to make sure everything is proper.

Sometime in 2012, Apple checked in some broken code. The code had an extra line that caused the software to always skip a check and consider the answer good. Now if someone has control over a privileged portion of the network you are communicating on, they can intercept the data and lie to iOS or OS X. Because of the bug, the lie will not be caught and your data will be improperly encrypted.

So someone who has taken control of a coffee shop’s wifi router, or a rogue employee at an ISP, or a hacker who has taken over a router somewhere, can listen to the traffic from Safari, iMessage, iCal, Mail, etc.

Chrome and Firefox are not afflicted because they do not use Apple’s code for SSL.

This is a really big deal. You are encouraged to not use a network you do not trust until Apple patches OS X. Apple has already patched iOS 6 and 7, but not OS X.

iOS 5 is not affected.

For more reading, check out Imperial Violet

Apple needs to be held accountable somehow. Depending on how much tin is in your hat, this bug is either a plain bug that was not caught because Apple lacks code review and unit testing practices, or they added it for the NSA, or a rogue NSA employee added it. That does not matter, this is the most trusted of code and it should never fail like this for so long.