How to Only Delete Files From Your Mac, Not Your iCloud Account
We’ve had some questions about deleting photos and videos off work machines when trying to free up space on your hard drive. Some have found that they’ve accidentally deleted their files permanently through their iCloud Photo Library, so we wanted to clarify how you can remove these files without deleting them totally out of your iCloud account.
If you do have the iCloud Photo Library option enabled on your work machine, the first thing you need to do is turn the feature off. To check this, go to System Preferences > iCloud (requires Apple login) > Photos > Options. If it is enabled, it means that if you delete a photo or video from your work Mac, the photo or video will then be deleted from all of your devices and removed from iCloud.
To safely remove photos or videos from your work machine without this happening, please make sure you have turned off (un-check it) iCloud Photo Library before deleting any photos and/or videos.
PLEASE NOTE: It’s always a good idea to back up any files that you don’t want to be deleted permanently to an external hard drive.
For more information on this and other iCloud issues, see the iCloud Photo Library FAQ on the Apple Support site.