A command-line tool to download photos from iCloud
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Nathan Broadbent
Latest commit 850bb05 Aug 21, 2018


Build Status Coverage Status MIT License

iCloud Photos Downloader

  • A command-line tool to download all your iCloud photos.
  • Works on Linux, Windows, and MacOS.
  • Run as a scheduled cron task to keep a local backup of your photos and videos.


icloudpd is a Python package that can be installed using pip:

pip install icloudpd

If you need to install Python, see the Requirements section for instructions.


$ icloudpd <download_directory>
           [--recent <integer>]
           [--until-found <integer>]
           [--smtp-username <smtp_username>]
           [--smtp-password <smtp_password>]
           [--smtp-host <smtp_host>]
           [--smtp-port <smtp_port>]
           [--notification-email <notification_email>]

    --username <username>           Your iCloud username or email address
    --password <password>           Your iCloud password (default: use PyiCloud
                                    keyring or prompt for password)
    --cookie-directory </cookie/directory>
                                    Directory to store cookies for
                                    authentication (default: ~/.pyicloud)
    --size [original|medium|thumb]  Image size to download (default: original)
    --live-photo-size [original|medium|thumb]
                                    Live Photo video size to download (default:
    --recent INTEGER RANGE          Number of recent photos to download
                                    (default: download all photos)
    --until-found INTEGER RANGE     Download most recently added photos until we
                                    find x number of previously downloaded
                                    consecutive photos (default: download all
    --skip-videos                   Don't download any videos (default: Download
                                    both photos and videos)
    --skip-live-photos              Don't download any live photos (default:
                                    Download live photos)
    --force-size                    Only download the requested size (default:
                                    download original if size is not available)
    --auto-delete                   Scans the "Recently Deleted" folder and
                                    deletes any files found in there. (If you
                                    restore the photo in iCloud, it will be
                                    downloaded again.)
    --only-print-filenames          Only prints the filenames of all files that
                                    will be downloaded. (Does not download any
    --folder-structure <folder_structure>
                                    Folder structure (default: {:%Y/%m/%d})
    --set-exif-datetime             Write the DateTimeOriginal exif tag from
                                    file creation date, if it doesn't exist.
    --smtp-username <smtp_username>
                                    Your SMTP username, for sending email
                                    notifications when two-step authentication
    --smtp-password <smtp_password>
                                    Your SMTP password, for sending email
                                    notifications when two-step authentication
    --smtp-host <smtp_host>         Your SMTP server host. Defaults to:
    --smtp-port <smtp_port>         Your SMTP server port. Default: 587 (Gmail)
    --smtp-no-tls                   Pass this flag to disable TLS for SMTP (TLS
                                    is required for Gmail)
    --notification-email <notification_email>
                                    Email address where you would like to
                                    receive email notifications. Default: SMTP
    --log-level [debug|info|error]  Log level (default: debug)
    --no-progress-bar               Disables the one-line progress bar and
                                    prints log messages on separate lines
                                    (Progress bar is disabled by default if
                                    there is no tty attached)
    --version                       Show the version and exit.
    -h, --help                      Show this message and exit.


$ icloudpd ./Photos \
    --username=testuser@example.com \
    --password=pass1234 \
    --recent 500 \


  • Python 2.7 or Python 3.4+
    • Python 2.6 is not supported.
  • pip

Install Python & pip



  • Install Homebrew (if not already installed):
which brew > /dev/null 2>&1 || /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
  • Install Python (includes pip):
brew install python

Alternatively, you can download the Python 3.7.0 installer for Mac.

Linux (Ubuntu)

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y python


If your Apple account has two-factor authentication enabled, you will be prompted for a code when you run the script.

Two-factor authentication will expire after an interval set by Apple, at which point you will have to re-authenticate. This interval is currently two months.

Authentication cookies will be stored in a temp directory (/tmp/pyicloud on Linux, or /var/tmp/... on MacOS.) This directory can be configured with the --cookie-directory option.

You can receive an email notification when two-factor authentication expires by passing the --smtp-username and --smtp-password options. Emails will be sent to --smtp-username by default, or you can send to a different email address with --notification-email.

If you want to send notification emails using your Gmail account, and you have enabled two-factor authentication, you will need to generate an App Password at https://myaccount.google.com/apppasswords

System Keyring

You can store your password in the system keyring using the icloud command-line tool (installed with the pyicloud dependency):

$ icloud --username=jappleseed@apple.com
ICloud Password for jappleseed@apple.com:
Save password in keyring? (y/N)

If you have stored a password in the keyring, you will not be required to provide a password when running the script.

If you would like to delete a password stored in your system keyring, you can clear a stored password using the --delete-from-keyring command-line option:

$ icloud --username=jappleseed@apple.com --delete-from-keyring

Error on first run

When you run the script for the first time, you might see an error message like this:

Bad Request (400)

This error often happens because your account hasn't used the iCloud API before, so Apple's servers need to prepare some information about your photos. This process can take around 5-10 minutes, so please wait a few minutes and try again.

If you are still seeing this message after 30 minutes, then please open an issue on GitHub and post the script output.

Cron Task

Follow these instructions to run icloudpd as a scheduled cron task.

# Clone the git repo somewhere
git clone https://github.com/ndbroadbent/icloud_photos_downloader.git
cd icloud_photos_downloader

# Copy the example cron script
cp cron_script.sh.example cron_script.sh
  • Update cron_script.sh with your username, password, and other options

  • Edit your "crontab" with crontab -e, then add the following line:

0 */6 * * * /path/to/icloud_photos_downloader/cron_script.sh

Now the script will run every 6 hours to download any new photos and videos.

If you provide SMTP credentials, the script will send an email notification whenever two-step authentication expires.


This script is available in a Docker image: docker pull ndbroadbent/icloudpd


# Downloads all photos to ./Photos

$ docker pull ndbroadbent/icloudpd
$ docker run -it --rm --name icloud -v $(pwd)/Photos:/data ndbroadbent/icloudpd:latest \
    icloudpd /data \
    --username=testuser@example.com \
    --password=pass1234 \
    --size=original \
    --recent 500 \


Install dependencies:

sudo pip install -r requirements.txt
sudo pip install -r requirements-test.txt

Run tests:


Before submitting a pull request, please check the following:

  • All tests pass on Python 2.7 and 3.6
    • Run ./scripts/test
  • 100% test coverage
    • After running ./scripts/test, you will see the test coverage results in the output
    • You can also open the HTML report at: ./htmlcov/index.html
  • Code is formatted with autopep8
    • Run ./scripts/format
  • No pylint errors
    • Run ./scripts/lint (or pylint icloudpd)
  • If you've added or changed any command-line options, please update the Usage section in the README.

If you need to make any changes to the pyicloud library, icloudpd uses a fork of this library that has been renamed to pyicloud-ipd. Please clone my pyicloud fork and check out the pyicloud-ipd branch. PRs should be based on the pyicloud-ipd branch and submitted to ndbroadbent/pyicloud.

Building the Docker image:

$ git clone https://github.com/ndbroadbent/icloud_photos_downloader.git
$ cd icloud_photos_downloader/docker
$ docker build -t ndbroadbent/icloudpd .

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