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Sync Photos from iOS Devices to Your Mac with Photo Stream

The easiest way to upload photos from any iOS device to your Mac is with Photo Stream. With Photo Stream, if you take pictures on an iOS-capable device like your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, they land more or less immediately on your other machines − iOS devices as well as on your Mac.

If you import pictures from a digital camera or SD memory card, those images can also make it onto Photo Stream, and from there, onto your Mac.

To use Photo Stream, you have to sign up with iCloud, and then you need to turn on Photo Stream in either iPhoto or Aperture. To ensure that Photo Stream is turned on in iPhoto, visit iPhoto Preferences, tap the Photo Stream tab, and select (if not already selected) the Enable Photo Stream check box.

You can choose to select Automatic Import to include Photo Stream photos in Events, Photos, Faces, and Places. And you can select Automatic Upload to send all new photos to Photo Stream. Downloaded photos appear in the Photo Stream view in iPhoto and in the Photos app on your iOS devices.

Because many Macs have reasonably generous storage capacities (depending on the model), you can keep a master set of your pictures on your home computer. However, on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can only keep a rolling collection of up to 1,000 photos max, all stored for 30 days. Older photos are removed after the 1,000-picture limit is reached.

With Photo Stream, the 1,000 most recently imported pictures are uploaded to iCloud automatically, where they can then find their way to your home computer. To make sure that Photo Stream is doing its job and is keeping the best of those images on a permanent basis, connect the device to Wi-Fi at least once during a 30-day period or (on the portable devices) save images to your Camera Roll.

Only photos stored in JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and RAW photographic file formats can be uploaded into Photo Stream.

You can manually add a photo from Photo Stream to your iPhoto library by dragging it to the iPhoto source list on the left side of the program. Meanwhile, you must import a photo that's in Photo Stream to your iPhoto library to edit the image.

To remove photos from Photo Stream, select Photo Stream from the source list, and then do one of the following:

  • Select the photo (or photos) in the display for that stream and press Delete on your keyboard.

  • Select the photo and choose Photos→Delete from Photo Stream.

  • Control-click the photo and choose Delete from Photo Stream from the shortcut menu that appears.

  • Drag the photo to the trash in the source list.

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