Previous 1 2 3 Next 33 Replies Latest reply: Apr 28, 2013 2:42 PM by Bluerose1051
valerie259 Level 1 Level 1

Can someone help me understand the workflow of the iCloud photostream?


For example -- right now I take a picture on my iPhone. It shows up automatically on my Windows 7 PC and my iPad. On all 3 devices it is in the "Photostream" folder. I'm good with that.


But what happens in 30 days or after 1000 photos in that Photostream ... my understanding is it is removed off of the iCloud servers at that point. Will the picture be deleted from not only apple's server, but from the Photostream on my iOS devices and the Photostream folder in windows as well?


Or, will it just be deleted off of the apple servers and remain in the "Photostream" albums on iOS devices and on my PC?

iPhone 4, iOS 5
  • steeleblue Level 1 Level 1

    Good question.  Hopefully someone will answer.

  • valerie259 Level 1 Level 1

    I think I found my own answer from the help page within


    Your iOS devices keep a rolling collection of your last 1000 photos. You can save your favorite shots to your Camera Roll or any other album to keep them on your device permanently. Because your computers have more storage, they can keep all your Photo Stream photos.

  • steeleblue Level 1 Level 1

    Yeah, so does that mean that you must go to your PC and copy them out of your PhotoStream folder?  Or can you leave them there and since they are older than 30 days iCloud will ignore them?  Or does iCloud delete them from your PC too?  In other words, will your PhotoStream folder on your pc always exactly mirror iCloud? 


    I was hoping that PhotoStream would be a way to automatically archive my pics until I had time to work on them.  If they disappear after 30 days anyway I think I'll just opt our.

  • valerie259 Level 1 Level 1

    The way I understand it based on the help pages on is it will do just what you want.


    Set up photostream on your Windows PC with your Apple ID. Then take pictures on your iPhone, and they will upload to the iCloud servers.


    Once there, they will remain there 30 days no matter what, to give all of your devices and computers a chance to download them.


    Once downloaded they will remain on any iOS device indefinitely, up to 1000 pictures total. After the 1000 pictures are exceeded, the oldest would roll off of your phone.


    Once downloaded they will remain in your Windows Photostream folder forever, with no limitations, because you don't have the same storage constraints on your PC (typically). You do not need to remove them out of the Photostream folder.


    It sounds like the iCloud servers themselves are just a 30 day holding pen for your photos, and they limit the # of pictures that will sit in your iOS device to 1000 just because of space constraints.

  • Alexroet Level 2 Level 2

    If you have to copy the photos you want to keep out of the photostream back to your mac/iphone/etc - then what's the point of having photostream??


    It used to be I took pix on my iphone.  They sat in my camera roll until I synced with iPhoto.  then my camera roll was empty, and the pix I'd taken were in other albums.


    I was hoping that this would let me skip that step- I take a pic, it goes to iphoto.


    And it does... but only temporarily??


    From the iCloud page-


    If you want to touch up a photo or keep a favorite shot permanently, simply save it to your Camera Roll. iCloud stores new photos for 30 days, so you have plenty of time to connect your iOS device to Wi-Fi and make sure you always have your most recent shots handy.


    so, then what? I copy it from photostream back to my camera roll... and then sync via cable with iphoto to get it out of the camera roll?



  • Alexroet Level 2 Level 2

    ok, a follow up to that.  I also just saw it says

    Your computer automatically keeps all the photos that come through your Photo Stream.

    Presumably that means if you do nothing, the pix in the photostream will expire after 30days (or 1000pix), and disappear from iDevices.  But they'll ALL stay on your mac. 


    In the Photostream folder?


    then do I copy things out of photostream and into albums?  I guess photostream is just like one big buffer?

  • eranou Level 1 Level 1

    Hi Alexroet


    From recent experience of using photostream, once you take a photo, and sync your ios devivce over wifi, the photo is uploaded into photostream and distributed to all your other devices (subject to a max of 1000 photos).


    In iphoto on my macbookpro, every new photo that is added to the photostream folder over wifi copies itself into the main photo storage area, so presumeably is kept there for good, even though the photostream folder may change in the future, once the 1000 photo limit is reached.


    I hope all that made sense!!

  • shineysky Level 1 Level 1

    I have a very basic setup: One user with an iMac and two iDevices: iPad and iPhone, home wifi network, cellular data plan.


    Have I got this summary right?


    1. Photos are stored in Photo Stream on the iCloud server, and after syncing they are also present in the Photo Stream folders on my devices. Photo Stream on the iCloud server is a 30-day holding pen.
    2. There are Photo Stream folders in Aperture (or iPhoto) on my iMac, and Photos on my iPad or iPhone.
    3. When my other devices connect to a wifi network, photos I took on my iDevice download from iCloud to the Photo Stream folder on my other devices, and a copy remains in Camera Roll on the iDevice that took the picture. (I don't need to manually copy the photo from Photo Stream to Camera Roll on the iDevice that took the picture, right?)
    4. Photos are stored on the iCloud server for 30 days to give me time to download them to my devices using a wifi network connection to iCloud.
    5. iCloud bumps images out of Photo Stream on my iDevices at 1,000 photos (maybe only iDevices, not iMac?).
    6. I cannot delete individual photos from Photo Stream in iCloud or my devices, only "reset" it, which deletes all photos in Photo Stream on the iCloud server, but not in Photo Stream on the iMac or iDevice. Delete photos there by turning off and on Photo Stream on the device., but only do that after moving copies to a safe place, if need be.
    7. Photos I import to Aperture on my iMac from any source are automatically copied to the Stream unless I turn off the Stream in Aperture first SO CAUTION!!!!! Could lead to giant unintended uploads.
    8. Photos I take on my iPad or iPhone are automatically copied to Photo Stream on iCloud unless I turn off Photo Stream on those devices first.
    9. In Aperture, do the image masters remain in Photo Stream if I drag an image from Photo Stream to a project? Do both the image and a version end up in the project?
  • eranou Level 1 Level 1

    That all sound about right shineysky, that's the experience i've had so far.


    Not sure about your Aperture question, but would assume that the photostream folder acts the same as it does in iPhoto, a copy is left in photostream folder as well a project copy.

  • Alexroet Level 2 Level 2

    I get that much.  It gets copied into the photostream, but I guess that's just a temporary "holding pen".  So if I (say) took a pic on my iphone... it's in my camera roll.  Then it gets photostreamed to other devices.  Now, if I don't want it to disappear after 30d, I have to copy it BACK from photostream? I know it stays on my mac, but what if I want it on my iphone too?  It can't stay in the iphone photostream forever, so I have to copy it seomewhere else?


    And that's where it seems awfully inefficient, but hopefully I have it wrong.


    I can...

    copy it from photostream on my mac into iPhoto.

    Then delete it from the camera roll on my iphone.

    then sync via cable with my mac, so it's PERMANENTLY the same on the imac and the phone?


    That seems crazy.


    I guess my real question is- what's the point of the camera roll, then?  I used to use camera roll as the 'holding pen' where I kept pix until I synced with iPhoto.  Now photostream does that.  Sort of.


    But still, the only way to REALLY get pix out of the camera roll (and not just into temporary photostream limbo) is (STILL) to sync via cable?  So that hasn't changed?


    Or to delete it from the camera roll, and save it in iphoto on the mac?


    i think I'm making this far more complicated than it is...


    What am I missing?

  • eranou Level 1 Level 1

    Hi Alexroet


    It does sound rather complicated when you put it like that doesn't it!  But it really quite simple though.


    • You take a photo on your ios5 device
    • The photo is saved in your camera roll, and a copy sent to the photostream folder on your device.
    • When you come into contact with a WiFi source, the new photo/photos are uploaded into iCloud photostream. (likewise, when you add any new photos to your iPhoto library on your iMac, from an sd card or memory stick for example, they will be copied into the photostream folder).
    • iCloud photostream then proceeds to synchronize those new photos with any other suitable devices that you have (laptops, iPads etc..)
    • Once they arrive on the sync'd devices, the photos are copied to the permanent library automatically.
    • As far as i'm aware, the photos are kept in the iCloud photosteam for 30 days to allow time for sync with other devices, but remain on the actual devices indefinitely until the number reaches a thousand, then i presume they drop off from the oldest first.


    As far as i can see, theres no need to sync with iPhoto via the cable if you're using photostream.  I haven't had to yet.  Presumeably the camera roll is still there on the ios device so that people have a choice as to whether they want to use the photostream functionality.  Some people may take many photos, but may have a broadband package at home with a light user package, so can't afford to use it to allow photostream to keep transferring photos.


    I'm not sure if you can stop the photos going into camera roll, but that would be a useful feature for me to save me having to keep deleting photos.


    I've probably not covered everything, but that's how i see photostream working.  Hope this helps! 

  • steeleblue Level 1 Level 1

    I guess the only question I have is even though they disappear from PhotoStream after 30 days do they still stay in your camera roll indefinitely.  I think the answer is yes.  And if so then I'm ok with that.

  • Alexroet Level 2 Level 2
    Once they arrive on the sync'd devices, the photos are copied to the permanent library automatically.


    Are you sure about that?

  • eranou Level 1 Level 1

    That's been my experience so far, once they've been copied automatically there wouldn't be any reason that the device would delete them in my opinion.


    On the Apple website it actually mentions the automatic process of copying the photo from the photostream.

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