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iCloud Photos are blurry? Here’s what to do

ios photos blurry thumbnails scaled

Ever since the release of iOS 15, users have been reporting a strange issue with the Photos app. Namely, thumbnails inside the app appear blurry. Photos themselves are fine, as there’s no loss in quality when users open a photo. While there’s nothing essentially wrong with actual photos, looking at an iCloud Photos gallery full of blurry images is disorienting for users who are facing this issue.

There are a few possible reasons for blurry thumbnails in the Photos gallery. It’s either a way you set up your iCloud library or a software bug. In the former case, you can change the settings to resolve the problem. But if you find out that blurry thumbnails have been caused by a software bug, it’s out of your control.

We’re going to explore both scenarios, so you can either resolve the problem or at least understand what’s going on better.

Optimize iPhone Storage

iCloud offers you an option to either download and keep photos and videos in their original state across all your devices or replace them with lower-resolution versions to save storage space. No matter which option you choose, your photos will stay the same in the iCloud library. However, if you opt for a storage-saving option, thumbnails in the Photos app will first appear in low-res. The app will download originals only when you open a photo.

Storing a lower-resolution version of your photos can save up a lot of storage space. It’s convenient because you lose nothing. That’s especially true when it comes to storing your older photos that you don’t look at too often. Downloading these photos will only use your precious space unnecessarily. The obvious downside here is that your Photos library will be full of low-res thumbnails. And while it doesn’t matter in general, looking at foggy images is unpleasant for a lot of people.

If you’re willing to trade storage space for comfort, you can tell iCloud to automatically download and store original photos. Here’s how to do that:

  • Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos.
  • Make sure the Turn on iCloud Photos option is enabled.iphone blurry thumbnails photos
  • Select Download and Keep Originals.

By selecting this option you’ll only have original photos in your iCloud photo library. However, I still recommend choosing the storage-optimizing option, because it will both save storage space and your money in the long run (depending on the iCloud storage option of your choice). It may not be pretty, but it’s efficient. If you decide you’re fine with blurry thumbnails and you want to save some storage space, get back to the Photos settings, and choose Optimize iPhone Storage instead of Download and Keep Originals.

Check your internet connection

Another reason for blurry thumbnails on your iPhone could be a weak internet connection. If your internet connection isn’t strong enough (especially if you’re on mobile data), iCloud won’t be able to properly download photos from the cloud, which could result in blurry thumbnails in your library. So just in case, make sure there’s nothing wrong with your internet connection.

If you notice you have a problem connecting to the internet, check out this article for some more potential solutions.

Wait for an update

You now know how iCloud stores photos and why they might appear blurry in your library. But what if you’ve already opted for downloading originals, or don’t use iCloud Photos at all? Apple’s forums are flooded with reports from users claiming they don’t even use iCloud Photos, yet the thumbnails of their photos still appear blurry.

Unfortunately, there appears to be a bug inside the system itself that causes blurry thumbnails. The problem was caused by one of the iOS 15 updates. As the forums only contain complaints from users, I could neither find an actual solution nor further explanation on what’s going on. For now, we just know that there’s a certain, unknown bug.

icloud photos blurry

The bug hasn’t yet been fixed at the time of writing this article. So, the only thing you can do is wait. Make sure to check for new updates regularly. Apple will eventually release a fix for this problem in some of the future iOS updates. On the downside, nobody knows when will that happen. You’re forced to just sit and wait for the solution to arrive, with little to no control over the situation.

In case you know another solution for blurry thumbnails inside the Photos app, feel free to share it with us in the comments down below. We’ll update this article accordingly.

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in January 2022. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.

Picture of Ivan Jenic

Ivan Jenic

Editor-in-chief at Mobile Internist. @ivan_jenic I founded Mobile Internist to help people understand technology better. And maybe solve some annoying problems. That's about it, cheers!
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