iPhone Photos Not Loading (Hint: It’s a Storage Issue)

We all love our iPhones until they stop working properly. You may notice an exclamation mark at the bottom of your camera roll while your photos are not loading. This exclamation mark is an indication that your photo is compressed due to the feature on the iPhone that optimizes storage.

If the photos are not loading and you are seeing an exclamation mark, it is because your photos are compressed. In order to see your photos in their normal resolution, the exclamation mark must load to fully display your pictures. Additionally, you may be seeing the exclamation mark at the bottom of your camera roll if your ‘Optimize Storage” feature is turned on.

Why Are Your iPhone Photos Not Loading?

1. You Have Enabled the Optimize Storage Option

The “Optimize Storage” option on an iPhone automatically uploads all of your pictures and videos to the cloud once your device is connected to Wi-Fi.

In order to reduce space, your phone compresses photos and videos. If this feature is on, your photos will not properly load if your iCloud storage is full. Also, you could remove audio messages you have saved on your phone.

If you want your photos to load in your camera, you will need to turn this feature off and instead turn on “Download and Keep Originals.” Keep in mind that if you do this, your device will lose a lot of storage depending on the number of photos you have.

2. Internet Problems

If your photos are not loading in your camera roll on your iPhone, it could be due to issues with the internet.

If your photos are uploaded to iCloud and you don’t have access to the internet, your photos will not display. To be able to download and save photos that have been uploaded onto iCloud you will need reliable internet access.

Check that your wireless connection is secure. Consider turning the Wi-Fi off and on to refresh the connection.

3. Your iPhone Does Not Have Enough Memory

Your photos will not load on your iPhone if your phone does not have a significant amount of memory. If you are a person who has a lot of photos and media on your phone, you will likely have less storage space.

If your phone is lacking storage, you will not be able to download and view all of your photos, as the iPhone will have a hard time displaying them.

How to Fix Photos Not Loading on iPhone

1. Turn off the Optimize Storage Feature on Your iPhone

As mentioned above, if the “Optimize Storage” feature is turned on on your iPhone, your photos will have a hard time loading and displaying properly. You will need to switch the “Optimize Storage” feature to the “Download and Keep Originals.”

To turn on this feature:

  1. Go to settings
  2. Click on Photos
  3. Click on Download and Keep Originals

This process may take a significant amount of time since all of the photos in iCloud will need to download to your device. Once this upload process has been completed, you should be able to view all of your photos in your camera roll without any issues.  

2. Wait for a Few Minutes to Download Your Photos

It may take a few minutes to download your photos and see them clearly in your camera roll. If you notice your photos aren’t loading, it may be due to a small glitch in the software.

To jumpstart the loading process, click on a photo or video. This will encourage the rest of your media to download as well.

Open the photos app, click on a video or photo that is not loading, wait a few minutes for the photo to properly load, and then go back to the other photos and see if you can access them normally.

3. Make Sure You Have an Active and Stable Internet Connection

To load and display photos that have been uploaded to iCloud, you will need a stable internet connection. To access your photos on the cloud you will need a stable connection as well. All of Apple’s cloud-based storage requires and active Internet connection.

If you check your Internet connection and notice there is an issue with it, turn the Wi-Fi on your phone off and on. Additionally, consider restarting your Internet by turning your router and modem off and back on again.

4. Free-up Memory Space on Your iPhone

If your photos are not loading in your camera roll on your iPhone, you will need to free up memory space. iPhone storage is limited, and for someone who has a lot of media and applications, it surely can run out quick.

If you notice that your photos aren’t loading, it may be a good time to free up storage on your iPhone. To do this, refer to these steps and pictures:

  1. Go to settings
  • Go to General
  • Go to Storage & iCloud Usage
  • Click on Manage Storage to view your memory

You will see the applications you have on your phone and how much storage they take up. This is a good time to uninstall or delete anything you no longer need. It will free up extra storage.

Additionally, you can choose to manually delete certain photos, videos, messages, apps, and emails to free up storage as well.

You can refer to this video for a step-by-step guide on freeing up memory storage on your iPhone.

5. Access the Photos from the iCloud Website

If your photos are not loading in your camera roll you can also choose to access the photos from the iCloud Website. iCloud is the cloud computing service ran by Apple.

Once you have been able to access your photos on the iCloud website, you should be able to easily transfer them onto your iPhone if they are not already.

To access photos from the iCloud website:

  1. Open your browser and go to the iCloud website
  2. Enter your iCloud login information
  3. Tap on Photos
  4. Download your Photos
  5. Transfer the photos onto your iPhone

View Your Original Photos In iCloud

 1. Restart your iPhone

If your photos still are not loading, consider restarting your iPhone. Oftentimes, rebooting the device can clear any glitches the software may be experiencing. To restart your iPhone, press and hold the power button and the volume down button at the same time for a few seconds.

The phone will power down. To turn it back on, press and hold the same two buttons until you see the Apple icon appear on screen.

 2. Force Close Photos App

If your photos are not loading fully in your camera roll, you may want to force close the photos application.

To do this, open the multitasking view by swiping up on the bottom of the screen. You will see all your recently opened applications. Find the Photos app, swipe up to force close it, and then re-open the app.

 3. Convert Your Photo into Compatible Format

If you have photos on your iPhone that were not taken on your phone’s camera and instead downloaded from the internet, you will notice the photos have trouble loading.

This is because not all photos saved to your phone will be a format that is compatible with the iPhone. If this is the case, you will need to convert your photos into a compatible format.

The format for photos that the iPhone supports is HEIC, mp4, and mov m4v. There are plenty of applications you can use as a photo converter to change foreign photos into the proper format for iPhones. Once you convert your photos, there should be no issues displaying them.

 4. Check and Repair Corrupt Photo

If specific photos are not loading on your iPhone, it may be because the files are corrupt—especially if the photo was downloaded from email or shared through a messaging app.

To properly display the photos on your iPhone, you will need to transfer the corrupt photos and repair them.

To repair corrupt photos on your iPhone:

  1. Transfer the photo from your iPhone onto a computer
  2. Repair the photos using photo repair software—Stellar Repair For Photo is a great app for this
  3. The application will prompt you with the proper steps to repair your photos
  4. Once you have repaired them you can transfer them back onto your iPhone

 5. Force Restart Photos App

If your photos are not loading in your camera roll it may be because of a software issue. To fix the software issue that is causing your photos to not display, you will need to force restart the photos app.

To force restart the photo app on an iPhone 8 and above, quickly press the volume up button, and then the volume down button. To turn the phone back on, press and hold the sleep button.

On an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, press the sleep/wake button and the volume down button for 5-10 seconds. Do not release until you see the Apple logo on the screen.

On an iPhone 6 Plus and all previous models, press and hold the home and side button for 10 seconds.

 6. Restart Internet Connection

To restart your internet connection, you will need to turn the Wi-Fi off or on your iPhone. You can also choose to turn off your router and modem to reset the Internet connection.

When you turn these Wi-Fi sources off, allow them 30 seconds to rest before turning them back on. Additionally, you can turn airplane mode off and back on to reset the internet connection.

Once you have reset the internet connection, go back into your photos app to see if your photos will now download now that you are connected to stable Wi-Fi.

 7. Reset Network Settings

If your iPhone photos are not loading, you may need to reset your network settings. If there is a glitch in your network settings it is likely that your photos will not be loading.

To reset the network settings:

  1. On the home screen, select Settings
  2. Select General
  3. Select Reset
  4. Tap Reset Network Settings
  5. Tap Reset Network Settings again to confirm

Once this is complete, check in your photos app if your photos are loading.

 8. DFU Restore Your Device

If your photos still are not loading, you will need to restore your phone from DFU mode. If an Apple technician was handling this issue, this is the final step they will take when a hardware or software issue arises in your device.

Restoring your device in DFU mode wipes all of the code from the device, updates the firmware, and then puts the code back into the phone. Make sure you backup your device before doing this—because it will entirely wipe your phone of all its data.

Check out this video on how to restore your device when it is DFU mode.

 9. Do A Factory Reset

The last solution you should attempt to try to solve the issue of your iPhone photos not displaying is to factory reset your iPhone.

A factory reset of the iPhone will clear all of the data and saved information on the phone and take it back to the initial set-up display. Know that this will completely erase all data on your phone, so only do this as a last resort.

To perform a factory reset on your iPhone:

  1. Go to settings
  2. Go to General
  3. Go to Reset
  4. Go to Erase All Content and Settings
  5. Select Back Up Then Erase
  6. Confirm with your iPhone passcode and press OK
  7. Once the reset is complete, check to see if your camera roll will load the photos

Contact Apple Support

If you have cycled through all of these steps and your photos still are not loading, it is best to contact Apple Support. Apple has a variety of support options available to customers that can be found on their website. Apple offers live chat, phone calls, and text support services through Apple Care.


Remember that if your iPhone is not loading photos, you may be lacking storage, not connected to strong internet, or have photos that are not compatible with the iPhone format if you find your photos are not loading.

There are simple solutions to these problems that can be easily accomplished at home. If the issue continues to persist after troubleshooting with these steps, contact Apple Support.