The new iCloud Photo Library feature in iOS 8.3 and OS X 10.10.3 is a HUGE improvement over Apple's old My Photo Stream. We’ve been using it ourselves for a few months now and it’s been working really well.
There is however, one particularly exasperating problem that people are encountering when they try to enable iCloud Photo Library in their Settings or during their upgrade to iOS 8.3. They see a very scary warning message like this:
Photos synced from iTunes will be removed.
Syncing photos via iTunes is not supported when iCloud Photo Library is turned on.
XX photos will be removed.
Most sane people confronted with a warning like this will tap Cancel and forget about iCloud Photo Library forever. After all, who wants to have a bunch of their valuable photos deleted?
However, we’d like to suggest that the benefits of iCloud Photo Library are sufficient that you should consider going ahead anyway if you’re willing to follow the steps in the rest of this blog post.
What Does the Warning Mean?
First of all, the warning means business: if your iOS device contains photos that you’ve synced at some point in the past via the iTunes app running on your Mac or Windows PC, they will be deleted from your iOS device when you enable iCloud Photo Library. Bummer. (It’s hard to understand why the Apple iOS engineers didn’t take the time to do something better, like maybe ask if you'd like to keep the photos even if they no longer sync...)
That’s the bad news, but the good news is that, assuming you still have all those photos on your Mac or PC, it’s pretty straightforward to restore them to your iOS devices using iCloud Photo Library itself.
If you don’t still have the photos on your Mac or PC, then definitely do NOT enable iCloud Photo Library because they will indeed be deleted forever.
How To Restore Previously Synced Photos to your iOS Device
If you decide to go ahead and tap Remove Photos when you enable iCloud Photo Library, the next sections describe how to then restore the removed photos back to your iOS device from either a Mac running OS X or a PC running Windows.
Mac OS X
If the photos that you previously synced to your iOS device are still on your Mac, follow these steps.