iPhone and iPad Mac

How to Force Mac Photos to Download New Photos From iPhone After Desyncing

Dan Price 19-10-2017

Sometimes, for entirely inexplicable reasons, the Photos app on your Mac will stop syncing with the photo libraries on your iPhone and/or iPad.


When it works, Apple’s simple cross-device photo syncing solution Use the iOS 11 Files App to Back Up Your iPhone Photos Thanks to the Files app, you can now selectively save photos from your camera roll to your cloud drives without ever leaving the photo app. Read More is one of the most elegant implementations of the technology you’ll find on any operating system. When it doesn’t work, it’s a disaster.

The Nuclear Option

If it’s ever happened to you, you probably Googled around for some answers and ended up disabling syncing on all your devices, then turning it back on. And it probably worked. Great!

Except, no. This is the nuclear option. Your entire photo library will need to re-download. If you’ve got thousands of photos, it could take hours, if not days. Use it as a last resort only.

The Smarter Option

There is a better way. It involves tinkering with the Activity Monitor What Is Activity Monitor? The Mac Equivalent of Task Manager Learn all about Activity Monitor on your Mac and how to use it to check detailed information about your system. Read More , nothing more. Best of all, instead of re-syncing your whole library, using this method will let Photos resume from wherever it was up to when the glitch occurred.

Follow the steps below to force Photos to start downloading new photos again:

  1. Quit the Photos app (do not just close it).
  2. Open the Activity Monitor (use Launchpad to find it if you’re struggling).
  3. Type Photos Agent in the search box.
  4. Click on the Photos Agent entry to highlight it.
  5. Click on the cross icon in the upper left-hand corner of the window.
  6. A new window will pop up. Select Force Quit.
  7. Relaunch the Photos app.

How to Force Mac Photos to Download New Photos From iPhone After Desyncing mac activity monitor 670x499

Your photos should now start downloading and syncing once again. You can see whether the fix was successful by looking at the bottom of the Photos window. It will let you know if items are being downloaded.

Did the fix work for you? What problems did you encounter? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Jeff
    January 19, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you!! This worked for me

  2. Betony
    December 18, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    Nothing is listed in Activity Monitor when I type Photos Agent into the search box, there's a completely blank in processes.

  3. Bryan
    October 16, 2019 at 12:13 am

    Worked !

  4. Michaela Campbell
    September 2, 2019 at 9:36 am

    Didnt work for me, unfortunately.

  5. Erik
    August 22, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Worked brilliantly for me! Thanks! macOS Mojave, 10.14.6

  6. Carl Erik Eriksson
    June 16, 2019 at 8:54 am

    It worked for me. High Sierra 10.13.6

  7. Karen
    March 22, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Didn't work!

  8. Mika Makinen
    December 24, 2018 at 5:03 am

    No it didn't work. Photos Agent does not ForceQuit...

  9. Joseph Scott Anthony
    September 6, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    No it didn't work. At the bottom Photos it only says "Uploading 2 Items" before and after the procedure suggested.

  10. Dave Cummings
    July 26, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    In activity monitor there is nothing listed as photos or com.apple photos or similar whatsoever whether the photos app is running or not?
    iMac is up to date but only running El Capitan ,its a mid 2009 model with 32 gb memory and is now considered obsolete by Apple even though its VERY fast and Etre check reports it as excellent so whats the next move?

    • Fred
      June 1, 2019 at 5:56 pm

      Your iMac will probably be able to update to High Sierra.