iPhone and iPad Mac

Tips To Help You Get More Done With Photo Stream [iOS & OS X]

Bakari Chavanu 21-05-2012

photo streamThese days, Apple is all about getting your data synced between your Mac and iOS devices. The company realizes that many Apple customers have more than one device and, although they may have a slightly different purpose, we rely on the ability to share data between those devices without the hassle of emailing documents or using some sort of iDisk or Dropbox connection to make it happen.


One notable example is Apple’s iCloud feature called Photo Stream which, when enabled automatically, shares your photos between all your Apple devices.

Updated Photo Stream

Since I last wrote about Managing & Processing iPhone Photos: Problems & Solutions 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 in... Read More Photo Stream, one significant improvement has been made that probably makes the feature more inviting to most users. Before the Photo Stream update you could not delete photos from your stream once they got sent there. Thus your poorly shot iPhone photos had to sit right alongside your keepers. But now that’s not the case.

photo stream

Now you can delete photos from Photo Stream, and those photos automatically get deleted from all your devices as well. This might seem like Apple went to the other extreme with this new update, but if you take a few minutes to set up Photo Ptream on your Mac and iOS devices you can take a few extra steps to manage and organize your photos coming from the cloud.

Setting Up Stream Works

In case you don’t know, Photo Stream is an iCloud service that uploads the photos you have taken on your iPhone, iPod touch, or camera-supported iPad onto Apple’s server and then delivers them to your other devices and Macs.


photo stream ios

For example, take a photo on your iPhone and it will appear in your iPhoto or Aperture Library on your Mac. You must enable the feature on your devices. On your Mac (running the latest 10.7 OS) go to System Preferences > iCloud and enable Photo Stream.

photo stream ios

Now open your iPhoto or Aperture Library on your Mac and select Photo Stream in the Library column. When you launch your photo application you will be prompted to select, “Turn On Photo Stream.”


photo stream ios

Likewise, on your iOS 5 device open the Settings App, scroll down and tap iCloud, and enable Photo Stream.

photostream os x

Now take a photo on your iOS device and wait a few seconds or longer, depending on the speed of the Wi-Fi network, to see that photo appear appear in the photo library you set up on your Mac. You can do the same setup between say your iPhone and iPad. Note that one copy of each of your photos shot by your iOS 5 camera also gets placed in your device’s Camera Roll, while another copy gets sent to your Photo Stream account.


photostream os x

In order for photos stored in your Photo Stream to appear you must be connected to the Internet. Your photos will only sync over your local network. If you’re out and about taking photos they won’t sync to your other devices over 3G; a hardcopy of those photos are not downloaded to your devices. They are actually viewed from your Photo Stream account in the server cloud.

Advance Photo Stream

Okay, now that you have Photo Stream up and running on your devices, there are a few advanced considerations you might want to make, especially if you take photos on a regular basis. On your Mac open Preferences in the iPhoto or Aperture in which you enabled Photo Stream. Unfortunately you can’t run Photo Stream on both applications at the same time.

photostream os x


Notice that you have a few options for using Photo Stream on your Mac. First off, note that Photo Stream stores the last 1,000 photos you uploaded to your account, or the last 30 day’s worth of photos (whichever is greater) stored there.

If you want to make sure those photos actually get copied to your iPhoto or Aperture library you must do that manually, or enable the photo application to do it for you. So you will probably want to check “Automatic Import” in Preferences. This means for example that iPhoto will copy photos from your Photo Stream and place them in an album arranged by month. So if when those photos vanish from your Photo Stream you will have them safely stored in your iPhoto library.

Photostream 13

You can also manually create a new album of selected photos from your Photo Stream, or drag photos from the Stream into an existing album(s). This too of course will copy photos to your library. If you open and manage your photos in your iPhoto or Aperture library on a regular basis, you should not lose any of your images.

Note also that in Preferences you can select to have any photos you import into your iPhoto library on your Mac be copied and sent to your Photo Stream as well. Those images will get synced to your other devices.

Using The Keyword

All the photos that get imported into your iPhoto or Aperture library automatically get tagged “Photo Stream.” This can be useful for creating smart albums using the keyword and other attributes.

photo stream

Hopefully there’s more to come with Photo Stream and iCloud, but for now it’s a pretty useful way to show off and manage your photos between your Mac devices.

For other iPhoto related articles, check out these:

Let us know if and how you’re using Photo Stream. What other features are you looking forward to?

Related topics: iCloud, iPhoto, Photo Album, Photography.

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