Unable to Load Photos on iPhone? Troubleshooting Why Your iPhone is Struggling & Solutions to Fix It


If you’ve ever tried to upload a photo from your iPhone and received the error message: “unable to load photo”, or even “an error occurred while loading a higher-quality version”, you may find yourself puzzled or even anxious that there’s something wrong with your iPhone. 

unable to load photo error on iPhone

Not only is this error message vague about the cause of the issue, but there are several reasons why you might get this message. It can be tedious to narrow down the root of the issue. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of troubleshooting the “unable to load photo” error on your iPhone. We outlined some solutions that might fix the problem.

What Does The“Unable to Load Photo” Error Mean? What Are The Causes Behind It? 

This error message simply means your iPhone is struggling with loading photographs. The most common culprit is you have optimized storage turned on, diminishing your iPhone’s ability to load photos from the iCloud. 

However, there are other reasons why your iPhone is unable to load photos. It could be your iCloud is full, you have a poor internet connection, or you are trying to load extremely large photographs. 

Commonly listed reasons for why your iPhone is receiving the “unable to load photo an error occurred” message, include:

  • You Have Insufficient iPhone Storage. If your iPhone lacks storage space, this can cause photos to fail the loading sequence when they are grabbed from iCloud.  If you have plenty of storage left, then the “unable to load photos” error message may be appearing because you have the Optimize Storage option turned on. This automatically deletes certain photos and videos from your device to make room for new content.
  • You’re Using a Slow Internet Connection. If you’re trying to load photos and receive the “unable to load photo an error occurred” message, it could be due to the fact that you have a slow or poor internet connection. To test this, try loading a different website or app that requires an internet connection. If the website or app loads slowly or doesn’t load at all, then it’s likely that your internet connection is to blame for your iPhone being unable to load photos.
  • Apple iCloud is Glitching Out. In rare cases, the “unable to load photo an error occurred” message can be due to Apple iCloud glitching out. If this is the case, the best thing to do is to wait a few hours and try again. You can also try logging in and out to see if that fixes the issue. If the problem persists, try contacting Apple support for further assistance.
  • You Have An Outdated iOS Version. If you’re using an iPhone that has an outdated iOS version, it can lead to a number of different errors, including the “unable to load photo” error message. An outdated iOS version may have trouble establishing connections with your iCloud account or may be unable to sync. The best way to fix this is to update your iPhone to the most recent iOS version.
  • You’re Experiencing Internal Software Bugs. If your gallery application is experiencing software glitches, it can begin to crash and cause the “unable to load photo” error message. If you think that this is the case, then you may either check the Apple forums to see if there are bug reports for the gallery app, wait for a new iOS update, or try one of our listed solutions below.  

11 Ways to Troubleshoot The “Unable to Load Photo” Error Message

If you’re seeing the “unable to load photo an error occurred” message on your iPhone, there are a few different things you can try to fix the problem.

1. Restart Your iPhone & Reopen Your Gallery Application.

One of the first things you should try when receiving the “unable to load photo” error message is to simply shut down the gallery application you’re using and try restarting your iPhone. Sometimes technical glitches or software bugs can interrupt the photos application, and a simple restart can fix this. 

To restart your iPhone:

  1. Hold down the power & volume buttons until you see the “slide to power off” option appear on your screen.
slide to power off button on iPhone
  1. Slide the toggle to power your iPhone down.
  2. Once your iPhone is turned off, wait a few seconds and then turn it back on by holding down the power button again.
  3. When your iPhone has restarted, try opening the gallery or photos app that you were using when you received the error message and see if the problem has been fixed.

If your iPhone won’t start or failed to restart, don’t panic too quickly. The cause could be as simple as a drained battery or some simple software or hardware issues that are fixable. You can click on the link provided here to see some surefire ways to troubleshoot these problems. 

2. Free Up Storage Space – Physical & iCloud Capacity.

If you’re receiving the “unable to load photo” error message, it could be because you don’t have enough storage space on your iPhone. When this happens, your iPhone can start experiencing all sorts of problems, including errors when trying to load photos.  We recommend that you free up as much physical storage space as possible, check your iCloud capacity, and free up space there too.  

Free Up iPhone Physical Storage Space:

changing iPhone storage settings to solve unable to upload photo error
  1. On your iPhone, go into Settings -> General -> iPhone Storage. This will show you how much storage space you have left on your iPhone as well as a breakdown of what is taking up the most space. If you’re low on storage, try deleting some apps, photos, or videos that you don’t need or rarely use to free up some space.
iPhone storage

Free Up Space on Your iPhone iCloud Storage:

  1. To check your iCloud storage, go into Settings -> [your name] -> iCloud -> Manage Storage. This will show you how much iCloud storage you have and which applications or files are taking up the most space. If you’re low on iCloud storage, you can try deleting some photos or videos that are backed up to iCloud, or you may opt to upgrade to a larger iCloud storage plan.
iCloud storage setting

3. Check Your Internet Connection Speed

As we mentioned above, one of the most common reasons for the “unable to load photo an error occurred” message is a poor or slow internet connection. If you think that this might be the case, try loading a different website or app that requires an internet connection. If the website or app loads slowly or doesn’t load at all, then it’s likely that your internet connection is the issue. One way to fix this is to reboot your internet connection: 

  1. Open up your iPhone’s settings and select Wi-Fi from the list.
  2. Then tap on the toggle that sits next to the Wi-Fi to the off-position.
toggle off Wi-Fi on iPhone
  1. Wait a few seconds and then turn Wi-Fi back on by tapping the toggle again so that it’s in the ON position. 
  2. Once your Wi-Fi is turned back on, try loading the website or app again and see if the problem has been fixed.

In the event your iPhone is not connecting to Wi-Fi, the first thing to check is the Wi-Fi connection of your mobile phone. Is it turned on? Is it picking up a signal and properly connected to a Wi-Fi network? If the problem seems to be beyond these basic checkups, then you should consider exploring other possible issues and their corresponding solutions.

4. Disable The Data Saver Option in Settings

If you have the Data Saver option enabled in your iPhone’s settings, it can cause problems with loading photos as well as other data. To turn off the Data Saver option, 

  1. Go to Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data Options and tap the toggle next to Data Saver so it’s in the OFF position.
cellular data option in iPhone
  1. You may also find this as Settings -> Mobile Data -> Mobile Data Options – Toggle Off Low Data Mode.

Once you’ve turned off Data Saver, try loading the photo again and see if the problem has been fixed.

5. Disable Power Saver Mode in Settings

If you have Power Saver mode enabled on your iPhone, it can cause problems with loading photos. To turn off Power Saver mode, go to Settings -> Battery and tap the toggle next to Low Power Mode so that it’s in the OFF position. Once you’ve turned off Power Saver mode, try loading the photo again and see if you still get the “unable to load photo” error message. 

low power mode setting on iPhone

6. Turn Off iPhone Storage Optimization in Settings

One of the new features that came with iOS 11 was iPhone Storage Optimization. This feature automatically deletes photos and videos that you haven’t used in a while to free up storage space. However, this feature can also cause problems with loading photos. To turn off iPhone Storage Optimization, do the following: 

  1. Head into your iPhone’s Settings -> Photos and tap the toggle next to Optimize iPhone Storage so that it’s in the OFF position. Once you’ve turned off iPhone Storage Optimization, try loading the photo again and see if the problem has been fixed.
turn off iphone storage optimization

7. Enable The Unlimited Cellular Data Option

If you only use cellular data to connect to the internet, you may need to give your photos application permission to use unlimited cellular data in order to bypass the “unable to load photo” error message.  Here is how to turn it on:

  1. Head into Settings -> Photos -> Cellular Data.
cellular data options on iPhone settings
  1. Now toggle on the Unlimited Updates option. 

This will allow your iPhone to use your cellular data to download/load photos to your device. 

8. Sign Out and Back Into Your Apple ID Account

If you’re still having problems with loading photos, you can try signing out of your Apple ID account and then signing back in. To do this:

Go to Settings -> Tap Your Apple ID [your name] -> Sign Out. Once you’ve signed out of your Apple ID account, wait a few seconds.

apple ID - sign out

Sign back in by entering your Apple ID and password. Once you’ve signed back in, try reloading the photo to see if you still get the “unable to load photo” error message.

9. Delete The Photo & Recover It

If you’re still having problems with loading photos, you can try deleting the photo and then recovering it from iCloud. To do this:

deleting photos from iPhone
  1. Go to your iPhone’s Settings -> [your name] -> iCloud -> Photos and tap the toggle next to iCloud Photo Library so that it’s in the OFF position.
iCloud photo library
  1. Once you’ve turned off iCloud Photo Library, delete the photo that you’re having problems with by tapping and holding on to it and then tapping the trashcan icon.
  2. After the photo has been deleted, turn the iCloud Photo Library back on by going to Settings -> [your name] -> iCloud -> Photos and tapping the toggle next to the iCloud Photo Library so that it’s in the ON position.
  3. Once you’ve turned on the iCloud Photo Library, the photo will be automatically downloaded from iCloud.

10. Check For & Update Your IOS Software Version

The last thing you can try is checking and updating your iOS software version. To do this, 

  1. Go to Settings -> General -> Software Update. 
software update screen on iPhone
  1. Tap “Download and Install” to install any pending updates. 
  2. Once installed, try loading the photo again and see if you still get the “unable to load photo” error message.

11. Contact Apple Support 

If you’ve tried all of the above troubleshooting steps and you’re still having problems with loading photos on your iPhone, you can try contacting Apple Support or booking an appointment at a Genius Bar for further assistance. 

Unable to Load Photo Error on Your iPhone, Solved!

Did this blog post help you troubleshoot the “unable to load photo” error message on your iPhone? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to check out our other troubleshooting articles for more help on all things Windows, Android, and iOS.

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