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Photo Stream Confusion

I wrote last month about options for photo cloud storage and sharing. What I’m finding amongst Apple product users is confusion about how Photo Stream works. Don’t feel bad, it is confusing, and the way Apple organizes your photos doesn’t help.  There are lots of online discussions about the confusion, or about things not working – or maybe, not working the way someone expects.

Here’s my simple guideline – and I hope I understand how it all works!:

(For the purposes of this write-up, I’m assuming that you have Yosemite on your computer and are using Photos and not iPhoto, but iPhoto should work the same.)

Turn on Photo Sharing (through the iCloud settings) on all your devices and all new photos will be in what Apple calls your “Photo Stream”.  Photo Stream can hold up to 1,000 recent photos. Photo Stream works through iCloud and requires all your devices to be logged in to the same iCloud account.

Let’s assume you have an iPhone and a Macbook.  You take a photo with your iPhone.  On your phone the new photo will appear both in your Photo Stream and your Camera Roll. On your MacBook, because your have Photo Stream on, the photo will appear in your Photo Stream, and by default, in All Photos (more on this later).

Here are three scenarios:

1) If you delete a photo from Photo Stream, either on your iPhone or your MacBook it will be deleted from the Photo Stream of the other device as well.  The photo will not be delete from All Photos on your MacBook or from your iPhone Camera Roll.

2) If you delete a photo from Camera Roll on your iPhone, and it is still in your Photo Stream, if will be deleted from the Camera Roll on your iPhone, and Photo Stream on all your devices.  But, if the photo was already imported into All Photos on another device, or any other album, it will not be deleted from All Photos or that album. Is that clear?

3) If you delete a photo from your MacBook, in any album other than Photo Stream, if will not be deleted from your iPhone, and vice versa.

Think of it this way, any photo that is in an album on any device is permanently stored until you manually delete it. Only Photo Stream is temporary.

This raises a question, how did Photo Stream photos become permanent on your MacBook?  I’ll tell you:  Open Photos.  Click Photos in the menu bar. Select Preferences. Select General. See where Importing is checked.  That means that all photos in Photo Stream will be copied into All Photos on your MacBook (or whatever Apple computer you have).

If you want to have more control over what you save on your computer then uncheck this option.  If you do this, then it is up to you to review your Photo Stream photos periodically and drag the ones you want to save to an album in Photos. This is a good way to force you to triage your photos.

I hope this helps. As an exercise, try deleting a single photo from both Photo Stream and an album on your devices and see what happens on the other devices.  It’s a good way to learn.

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Photos Freakout

Last month I wrote about Apple’s new photo app for OS X called Photos.  It replaces iPhoto.  It is installed with the latest update to Yosemite.  The freakout, OMG moment happens when you first launch Photos and do not see the dozens of events you had in iPhoto.  Don’t worry – the events are there – Apple has the side bar hidden.

To reveal the sidebar and list your events go to View -> Show Sidebar and take a deep breath.

If you’re feeling a bit lost with Photos, here’s a short tutorial on using Photos.

Apple’s New Photo App

If you’ve updated you’re OS X to the latest version, 10.10.3, you may have noticed that iPhoto is no more.  It has been replaced by Photos which is the same name as the Photo app on iPhones and iPads.  This new app has a similar look and feel.  It also has many more sophisticated editing features built in – I find these new editing tools fun and easy to play with.  Re/Code recently published this review of the product.

When you first open the new Photos app it will convert all your photos from iPhoto.  You will not lose anything.  You will also be asked about using the new iCloud Photo Library.  The plus of using this services is that all your photos will be stored on iCloud and can be accessed by all your devices instantaneously. But, it comes with a price – the storage is not free.  If you have a lot of photos and you are using iCloud to backup your mobile devices, and maybe store other documents, you will quickly use up your 5 GB free allotment of space.  It costs about $12 a year for an extra 20 GB of space.

I recommend you read the review, dive in, and have fun looking through all your photos.