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Do you have thousands of photos on your iPhone? Is it hard to find any of the pictures you’re looking for? Is your iPhone storage full? Then you need to work on the way you manage photos.
Fortunately, improving your photo management practices is easy. With a few new habits, some cloud storage, and an app or two, you can get your iPhone’s Camera Roll back under control in no time.
Review Your Photos Immediately
It’s easy to snap a few photos and then forget about them until… well, possibly never. And that’s the number one thing that fills up your iPhone Camera Roll. Good photo management starts the moment you snap the picture.
So what do you need to do? Simple! Look at the photo or photos you just snapped, then delete the ones that aren’t great (you’ll need to learn to critique your photos quickly).
Notice that I didn’t say “aren’t good” — I said “aren’t great.” If you don’t want to be carrying around thousands of photos on your phone, you’ll need to raise your standards.
Of course, this is all subjective. A photo that isn’t of high quality might be a great photo to you because it will always remind you of a great time you had. Regardless of the criteria you set yourself, be sure to apply it quickly. And delete anything that doesn’t stack up.
If you end up with a large backlog, you may want to use an iPhone photo management app to help you. Flic is a free app that turns cleaning your photos into a Tinder-like experience. It shows you one photo at a time. Swipe left to trash it, swipe right to keep it.
Don’t Keep Duplicates
Snapping a bunch of photos is a good way to give yourself options. Maybe your friend blinked in one of them, but not the other. Or maybe the light was coming through the trees in just the right way.
If it wasn’t, though, delete that photo. If you have two that are almost identical, and you can barely tell the difference, delete one of them. You won’t regret it when you look back years later. Trust me.
Near-duplicates can go, too. The idea here is to pare down to the absolute best photos you have. And if two photos are similar, you’ll only need one of them to remind you of what you were snapping. If you need help, check out Remo, a free app that exists solely to get rid of similar and duplicate photos on your iPhone.
Use Favorites and Albums
No matter how many photos you have, it’s going to be much easier to manage them if you’re using some of the iPhone’s built-in organizational capabilities. Favorites, as you might expect, is simply an album to keep your favorite photos in.
Tap the heart icon at the bottom of any photo to add it to your Favorites album. To view your favorites, tap Albums at the bottom of your screen and you’ll see Favorites near the top.
Creating your own iPhone photo albums is a great way to keep your photos organized. I find it best to create three or four albums of things you often take photos of. You might have “Travel,” “Games,” “Things I Want,” “Family,” “Friends,” or anything else that you often photograph. You could separate landscapes and portraits. Color and black-and-white. Whatever will be most useful for you.
To create a new album, go to the Albums view and tap the plus sign in the top-left corner. Name your album and hit Save.
When you take a photo that should go in an album, tap the Share button from the photo view and find Add to Album (it’s on the bottom row). Then add it to the album where it belongs.
It’s easiest to do this sooner rather than later, which is why I recommend setting up albums early and for general categories.
To make it even faster, open any photo, then tap the Share button. Scroll all the over to the right and tap More. In the Activities menu, you can tap-and-hold on any option to move it. Move Add to Album all the way to the top.
Back Everything Up Automatically
Deleting photos can be a bit of a nail-biter. If you listen carefully, you can hear cries of “What if I want this one later!?” across the world. Well, not really, but you get the point.
An easy solution to that is to automatically back up all of the photos on your iPhone. There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest is the built-in solution: iCloud Drive. You get 5GB of free storage with any Apple account, and a dollar a month will boost it to 50GB. That’s enough for a lot of pictures (I have almost 2,500 on my phone, and it adds up to about 7.5GB).
To change your iCloud plan from your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Change Storage Plan. From here you can choose any of the available plans.
A buck a month for peace of mind is a great deal. Now you’ll have a backup copy of anything you’ve taken a picture of. Go to Settings > Photos and make sure that iCloud Photo Library is turned on.
If you’d rather back up individual photos, you can use the Files app to do so. Just don’t forget to do it.
Optimize iPhone Storage
Once you’ve turned on iCloud Photo Library, you’ll see an option called Optimize iPhone Storage. What does this mean?
It simply uploads full-size photos to iCloud and keeps smaller versions on your iPhone. This is a great option, because you can’t see your iPhone pictures at full resolution anyway. Make sure this option is turned on to avoid the dreaded “Storage Almost Full” message.
Manage Your iPhone Photos From Mac or PC
This is the best way to improve your iPhone photo management. The small screen on your phone makes it difficult to select lots of photos at once, and can make it hard to see which of two similar photos is better. Managing your iPhone pictures from your Mac or PC solves both of these problems.
While you can manage your photos from both Mac and Windows machines, using a Mac is going to be easier. You can use the Photos app (which is actually a great photo management app) to access your iCloud Photo Library, so everything is kept in sync.
When you’re using macOS Photos for managing your iPhone photos, you can shift-click or command-click to select multiple photos, then move them into albums or delete them. You can also easily save them to your computer for backup.
Using Photos on your Mac makes it easy to do just about all of the above tips faster and more effectively. Just be aware that it can also take up a lot of space on your computer. You may want to take extra care to keep your drive clean.
To get started, go to System Preferences > iCloud, and make sure Photos is checked:
You can also use iCloud Photo Library on your Windows PC, either by accessing it through your browser at iCloud.com or by downloading the iCloud app to automatically download your iCloud photos. The browser interface isn’t great (you can only select on photo at a time), but it works.
Unfortunately, the syncing capabilities of the iCloud app on PC aren’t as good as those on a Mac. So you’ll sacrifice a bit there.
iPhone Photo Management Made Simple
The best thing you can do to keep your iPhone from being overrun by thousands of photos is to develop good photo management habits. When you spend a minute here and five minutes there on keeping things under control, it gets a lot easier.
What’s your iPhone photo management strategy? How do you keep your photos under control? Share your best tips below!