iPhone and iPad

Managing & Processing iPhone Photos: Problems & Solutions

Bakari Chavanu 21-04-2012

managing iphone photosIf you’re an iPhone or iPad camera shutterbug, you no doubt experience the frustration of managing and processing photos on and beyond your mobile device(s). In the release of iOS 5, Apple introduced Photo Stream as a possible solution to managing and sharing iOS camera photos between Apple mobile and computer devices.


Indeed, Photo Stream has been helpful, but there are a few  major problems that Apple has yet to address. In this article I share the limitations of Photo Stream and the Camera Roll features for iOS, and how I’m trying to work around those issues.

Photo Stream and Camera Roll

As you probably know, when you shoot photos with the built-in iPhone or iPad camera, they are automatically saved to a Camera Roll in the Photo Library app.

managing iphone photos

However, when you go to add selected Camera Roll photos into albums, you run into a problem. Say you just shot a set of Easter Sunday or other holiday photos and you put them into an Photo Library album for quick access and management. The problem occurs however when you want to delete those photos from Camera Roll, but leave a copy of them in a designated album. You can’t do it. Photos deleted from the Camera Roll will also be deleted in other albums you add them to. (Note: they’re not really added/copied to an album, just referenced to it.)

processing iphone photos

If you’ve enabled Photo Stream on your mobile devices and iPhoto or Aperture, all your photos added to the Camera Roll will automatically be copied to Apple’s iCloud server where they will be shared with all your enabled devices, i.e. iPhoto on your Mac and the Photo Stream folders on your other iOS 5 mobile devices.


processing iphone photos

Photo Stream is supper great for instantly backing up and sharing your iOS photos. You can even access them on your Apple TV. And in the last iOS 5 update, you can now delete one or more photos from your Photo Stream. You just have to remember, however, that when you delete photos from Photo Stream on any of your devices, they get deleted on all your devices, since your photos in Photo Stream rest in the cloud and not on any actual local hard drive.

processing iphone photos

Again, Photo Stream works well in this regard. However, while you can share photos via email, text message, Twitter, etc., you can’t copy photos to separate albums on your iOS devices. You can do so, however, in iPhoto and Aperture. To have this done automatically, open the Preferences of these applications, and enable Automatic Import, of photos from Photo Stream. Photos will be copied into a separate album and labeled by the current month.


iphone photo process

The Problem

So the biggest problem to me with managing photos on iOS device is the ability to copy photos to an album in your Photos Library and have those photos remain there, even if they are deleted from your Camera Roll and Photo Stream.

Being able to manage and keep photos into separate albums means not only can you can access them more easily, especially when you have hundreds of photos in your Camera Roll and Photo Stream, but it also means you can keep the original photos, and edit copies of them in say Instagram or other photo apps.


Well, so far here are my solutions to the problems. First off I use Hedonic Software’s Albums: Photo and Video Manager ($2.99) app for maintaining the photos I want to keep on my iOS devices.


iphone photo process

I use this app because it supports keywords and smart albums, similar to what is available in iPhoto and Aperture. I can easily tag imported photos and they automatically are placed in designated smart albums.

Secondly, the biggest problem with the Camera Roll is that even with iOS 5, Apple still has not made it possible to select all photos on the Camera Roll with one tap. You literally have to tap each one of them separately and then tap the Delete button at the bottom. But there is another option.

iphone photo process


If you have hundreds of photos you need to delete from the Camera Roll, you can hook up your mobile camera device to your computer, and then open a built-in OS X application called Image Capture (in the Applications folder.)  All your Camera Roll photos will show up in that application, and from there you can do a Command+A (Select All) and both import those photos onto your computer and delete from the Camera Roll on your device. Sadly, this can’t be done wirelessly.

Photostream 9

I also use an app called CameraSync ($2.99) on my iPhone which will after being launched instantly uploads all my Camera Roll photos and videos to a designated folder in Dropbox (or SkyDrive, FTP server, Amazon S3 bucket, etc..) It will remember which image and video files it already uploaded so you don’t have to worry if particular files have been backed up. This app is very useful for people not using Photo Stream.

managing iphone photos

iPhone photography has changed the way I shoot and process photos, but until Apple rectifies the three major limitations discussed above, managing photos and videos on the device will remain a needlessly cumbersome process.

For other iPhone camera related articles, check out these:

10 Powerful & Useful iPhone Camera Apps To Help You Take Better Pictures 10 Powerful & Useful iPhone Camera Apps To Help You Take Better Pictures Read More

3 Tools For Managing Your Photos In Dropbox 3 Tools For Managing Your Photos In Dropbox [Mac] For us Apple iOS users, the Dropbox application is one of the best solutions for syncing images between your computer and one or more mobile devices. In addition, there are a couple of other iOS... Read More

6 Things You Need To Know About The Photos App In iOS 5 Did You Know the iPhone's Basic Photo App Can Do This? Apart from being a home for all of your device's photos and videos, Photos is full of surprises. Read More

Let us know about your iPhone camera workflow. I’m hoping there are better solutions out there.

Explore more about: iPhoneography, iPhoto, Photo Album, Photography.

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  1. Tara
    January 30, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Hello Bakari,

    Are you still using this app? I want to add keywords to my photos so they will be placed in a smart folder.

    Is this still the best solution you've found?

    And to clarify, this replaces iPhoto?

    With thanks,


    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 2, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      Tara, you're referring to the iPhone camera app, correct? If so, I don't think there is a way to add keywords to photos in the iOS app. iPhoto, on the other hand, is Mac application that can sync with the iOS Photos app using Photo Stream, or now in iOS 8, you can use iCloud Drive, which puts all your iOS Camera app photos on your iCloud account. You can add keywords in iPhoto. Hope that doesn't sound too confusing, but some things have changed since I wrote this article back in 2012. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  2. Brooke
    September 22, 2012 at 5:54 am

    This is a fantastic article! I have been searching and search for an easy way to make sure that the space on my iPhone was freed up from my pictures, but not deleted on my iCloud.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      September 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Brooke. Appreciate it.

  3. venkatp16
    August 28, 2012 at 11:09 am

    thanks for nic epost.. everytime i feel it very difficult to handle photos in iphone.This is very helpful one

    • Bakari Chavanu
      September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Appreciate the feedback, venkatp16.

  4. KathyinMN
    July 27, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Keywords is a HUGE problem for me. I would love to be able to add keywords right on the iphone. I don't want to re-add keywords on my phone in order to get the Albums app to work. And having to wait until pics are uploaded and do it from my computer seems awkward in my photo taking flow. I wish Apple would do something in this regards.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Totally, agree, Kathy. You should drop Apple a suggestion about this. I'm not sure you can add keywords in the iPhone version iPhoto. I know you can add captions and titles to photos in that app. Be sure to write about about your suggestion.

  5. CB
    July 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I think I need to delete photos and videos to make room for more storage (I cant take any more videos - I get an error message that there is not enough storage). If I delete photos from the camera roll do they remain in the photo stream, or will they be deleted in the photo stream too? Thank You!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      CB, if you delete photos from the Camera Roll, that won't delete them from the Photo Stream. You can use iPhoto to delete Photo Stream photos (of course, you want to copy photos from PS to an iPhoto album before you delete them from PS.) Once you delete photos from PS on one device, they get deleted from all other devices using PS.

      • REK
        October 8, 2012 at 8:54 am

        When you say that deleted photos are deleted *from all other devices using PS*, do you mean that the original photo on the device that took the photo is deleted? Or do you mean that they are deleted from the *photostream* on all devices, including the original device? Been searching for an answer for this for a few hours now.

  6. Kathy
    June 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I took five pictures with my iPhone 4S and they all originally showed up in photo stream but now the last one is only in camera roll. What happened and how can I get the fifth photo to be in photo stream again?

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 23, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Are you saying four of the pics are no longer on the Camera Roll? I've never had pics disappear from the Camera Roll. You sure you didn't accidentally delete them?

      As for the fifth one, you might try opening the pic in another photo app like Instagram and save it again to your Camera Roll, which then should copy it to Photo Stream. Unfortunatly I don't know of any other way to export a photo to PS.

  7. vishnu
    June 13, 2012 at 8:07 am

    my i phone got struck suddenly. I tried to open it but I can't please suggest me a solution

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Vishnu, it's difficult for me to try to troubleshoot these type of issues. Please try to contact Apple support to see what they tell you.

  8. Almai
    May 19, 2012 at 6:34 am

    I wanna ask if what is the problem if your iphone can't open or when you turn it on, the only thing you see is the apple sign. Please help..

    • Bakari Chavanu
      June 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Almai, it's difficult to asses that problem with looking at your device. Try to contacting Apple support to see if they can assist you. Also, if there's an Apple store in your area, you can make an appointment to have them look at it.

  9. dka069
    April 21, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Highly recommend quickshot if you prefer dropbox over icloud. Much more clean and better syncing. Did a video on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q-JyYLFUtI

    • Bakari Chavanu
      April 22, 2012 at 5:42 am

      Yes, I agree. I should have added it to my list in the article. Thanks for your feedback.