How to use Apple Photo Stream
What is Photo Stream?
Photo Stream is a way of wirelessly synchronising your photos across all your iOS devices as well as your PC and Mac. For example, if you take a photo on your iPhone, it will automatically appear on your iPad and your computer without you having to do anything at all.
How Does Photo Stream Work?
To get the best out of Photo Stream, you have to understand how it works. Photo Stream uses Apple’s iCloud service to store your photos online so they can be accessed on all your devices. As standard, iCloud only comes with 5GB of free storage space but Photo Stream files do not count towards your 5GB allowance, so you don’t need to worry about using up all your space.
The photos are stored online for 30 days before they are deleted. However, as long as the photos have synced to your other devices during this 30-day period, they will be safe and sound as well as still stored on your device’s camera.
To stop you using up too much space on your iOS devices (iPhone, iPod, iPad), photos transferred using Photo Stream are automatically deleted when you reach 1000 photos. Your computer does not have this limit and will carry on storing photos indefinitely. Don’t worry though, this wont delete your original image, just the copy from the photo stream system.
Photo Stream Requirements
To make use of Photo Stream, you need to sign up for an Apple ID. If you have ever downloaded anything from the iTunes Store or App Store you will already have one of these.
You also need to make sure your device meets the following requirements:
- iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with iOS 5.0 or above
- Mac with OS X Lion 10.7.2 and iPhoto 9.2 or Aperture 3.2
- PC with Windows 7 or Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) and the iCloud Control Panel for Windows
- Apple TV (2nd generation) with Software Update 4.4 or later
Activating Photo Stream on iOS
- On your mobile device, go to Settings > iCloud
- Sign in with your Apple ID and password
- When iCloud is activated, scroll down to Photo Stream and click it to turn it on
From now on, any photos you take on the device will automatically upload to Photo Stream within a few minutes of being taken.
To view your Photo Stream, go to Photos from the main screen and you will now see a new Photo Stream album.
Activating Photo Stream on Windows
- Install the iCloud control panel first
- When the iCloud software is installed, go to Control Panel and then iCloud and sign in with your Apple ID and password
- Tick the box to activate Photo Stream.
iCloud will automatically create a Photo Stream folder in your Pictures folder on the computer and all your photos will automatically appear in here.
You will also have an Upload folder inside this main Photo Stream folder. Any photos you put in the Upload folder will automatically be uploaded on to Photo Stream and will appear on all your iOS devices.
Activating Photo Stream on a Mac
- Click on the Apple Symbol in the top left of the screen and go to System Preferences
- Click 'iCloud' and sign in with your Apple ID and password
- Tick the box to turn Photo Stream on
To fully activate Photo Stream on the Mac, open iPhoto and click the Photo Stream option on the left hand side. Click the 'Turn on Photo Stream' button and you will be taken to your Photo Stream album.
Any photos you import into iPhoto will automatically be uploaded to Photo Stream.
Limitations of Photo Stream
Photo Stream is a great way of viewing all your photos on all your devices without having to worry about manually synchronising everything, but it does have a few limitations.
First of all, you cannot edit any photos on Photo Stream. If you edit a Photo Stream picture on your iOS device, it will force you to save the edited photo into your Camera Roll. This edited version will upload to Photo Stream again but the original will remain on Photo Stream as well. This can cause some duplicated content occasionally, but only small amounts.
The main issue with Photo Stream is that at the moment it is impossible to delete individual photos from Photo Stream once they have been uploaded. The only way of removing photos from Photo Stream is to reset it completely. This will not delete the photos off your devices but will stop them from syncing with any other devices.
To reset Photo Stream, go to www.icloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID and Password. Click on your name in the top left corner and click Advanced. Finally, click 'Reset Photo Stream'.
When you have done the reset, you can remove all the photos from you device by turning Photo Stream off and on again. This will remove all Photo Stream photos that have not been manually saved on to the device.
The latest Apple Developer preview of the next iOS update does have the option to delete individual photos so hopefully this issue will be resolved when this update is released to the public. In the meantime though, this work around is the only way of removing things from Photo Stream.