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How to fix unable to load photo or video error on iPhone

Can’t access your iCloud photos and videos on your iPhone or iPad? You’re not alone. Many users have reported facing the “unable to Load Photo” or “error occurred while loading higher quality version” error on their iPhone.

If you are facing the same problem, this article is for you! I have shown 13 ways to fix the ‘unable to load video or photo’ error on iPhone.

1. Check your iPhone storage

If your iPhone denies access to your photos or gallery, the first thing you must check is whether you’ve used up your iPhone storage. If you’ve been syncing your pictures to iCloud, you might have exhausted the 5GB of free storage already.

To check your iPhone storage, open Settings → General → iPhone Storage. At the top, you’ll see the storage you’ve left.

If you don’t have enough space left, delete big files or remove unnecessary apps to free up storage, eliminating the photo error.

Check your iPhone and iCloud storage

2. Force quit and open Photos

The Photos app sometimes crashes on the iPhone due to software glitches. So, if you can’t load your photos, it’s probably a temporary gallery issue. Force-quitting and reopening your gallery app might remove the error.

Simply tap and hold your home screen to open App Switcher → Drag up the Photos window to close it.

3. Turn off data saver

Turning on the data saver limits general data usage on your iPhone. This might affect picture downloads and file syncing to and from iCloud Photos. Besides, turning this feature on also affects your internet experience.

So it’s always best to toggle this off so you can be sure it’s not the cause of the image loading error message.

To deactivate the mobile data saver on your iPhone, go to Settings → Cellular → Your Primary number → Toggle off Low Data Mode.

Deactivate the mobile data saver on your iPhone

And if you’re on a Wi-Fi network, open Settings → Wi-Fi. Next, select your Wi-Fi and toggle off Low Power Mode.

Turn off the Wi-fi data saver on your iPhone

4. Enable cellular data

If you received an iCloud link to a photo on your iPhone, you need internet access to download it to your local storage. But if you’ve capped your iPhone to download on Wi-Fi only, loading the photos might fail if Wi-Fi is unavailable or out of range.

Hence, allowing the Photos app to download or sync files using cellular data helps. To do this, open iPhone SettingsPhotos Mobile Data → toggle on Mobile Data.

Enable cellular data for Photos app on iPhone

5. Allow unlimited data for syncing

Besides allowing Photos to use cellular data, a limit on the data it can use to sync pictures or videos might make pictures fail to load sometimes. Although this is rarely the cause, it may be the culprit if your mobile network is poor.

Hence, removing the data limit on iCloud Photos allows you to unleash all available mobile network signals on downloading and uploading iCloud Photos.

Note: Allowing unlimited data usage for iCloud Photos might drain your mobile data.

The steps to allow unlimited data for iCloud Photos are pretty much the same as allowing mobile data. To do so, go to Settings on your iPhone. Tap Photos → Mobile Data → toggle on Unlimited updates. Once done, you can try to open your pictures again.

6. Restart your device

Sometimes, the error is due to a temporary system failure. For example, your Photos app might have failed for some reason. Restarting your iPhone might fix the issue. This gives your iPhone a fresh start and resets its RAM.

7. Turn off the power saver

You might’ve turned on the Low Power mode on your iPhone while trying to reduce battery drain. But it may affect some functionalities on your iPhone and slow it down. This includes the temporary pausing of iCloud Photos.

So, turning off low power mode might help remove the unable to load photo error after all. To deactivate low power mode, open Settings → Battery → toggle off Low Power Mode.

Open settings, go to battery, toggle off low power mode

8. Delete and recover the photo

If a specific picture triggers the unable to load photo error message on the iPhone, it’s either the result of a broken or incomplete download. In that case, you might want to delete the picture and try to recover it from iCloud.

To delete the said picture, long-press it and tap Delete from Library → Delete Photo.

To recover a deleted picture:

  1. Tap Albums towards the lower-right.
  2. Scroll down and select Recently Deleted.
  3. Once you find the deleted photo, long-tap it and choose Recover.

    Delete and recover the photo on iPhone

You may also look at how to delete photo albums on iPhone

9. Log out and back into Apple ID

So this isn’t often the case. But it fixes the issue sometimes. Moreover, your iCloud account might be unable to access your iCloud Photos for some reason. Simply logging out and back into your Apple ID might fix the issue. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap the Apple ID banner at the top.
  3. Select Sign Out at the bottom.
    Follow the prompts to log out.

    Sign out and sign in to Apple ID again on iPhone

Next, log back in by tapping the Apple ID banner again. Next, follow the prompts to log in. Now, try to load the said picture again to see if the error message persists.

10. Deactivate storage optimization for photos

Activating storage optimization means your iPhone will push high-resolution photos and videos only to iCloud and keep the low ones on your local storage. Hence, downloading a high-resolution image from iCloud might fail due to this limit.

To remove image storage optimization, open iPhone Settings → Photos. Tap Optimize iPhone Storage if there’s a checkmark on it.

Deactivate storage optimization for photos on iPhone

11. Update your iOS version

If you still get the “Unable to Load Photo” error message on your iPhone, your iOS version might be obsolete and unable to sync iCloud Photos successfully. Updating your iOS version to the latest one usually fix this issue.

12. Still facing issues? Use

Although this is a temporary fix, if all else fails and you desperately need to access your Photos, you might want to log on to the iCloud website on your PC or Mac and log in with your Apple ID.

Once logged in, click Photos to load all your pictures from iCloud.

13. Reset Network Settings

If your iPhone network connection is facing issues and nothing seems to work, you must reset the Network Settings.

  1. Go to Settings → General → Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  2. Select Reset → Reset Network Settings.

    Reset Network settings on iPhone and iPad
  3. Enter your passcode → Tap Reset Network Settings.

Wrapping up…

The “Unable to Load Photo” error message on your iPhone can appear for any reason. Whatever the reason is, the above solutions should help solve the problem. If the unable to load photo error message still appears, it’s time to contact Apple Support.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.

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  • Idowu

    Idowu is an avid tech writer and a software surfer who loves covering knowledge gaps in consumer software, including anything related to iPhones. Well, when he's not reading and learning new things, you'll find Idowu losing gallantly on a solid chessboard or virtually on Lichess.

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