How to Use Photo Stream Storage on Your iPhone

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

Photo Stream automatically uploads photos you take with your iPhone or other iOS devices to iCloud. Then Photo Stream pushes, or downloads, them to the other devices and your computer. Seconds after capturing a screenshot on an iPhone, the photo shows up in the Photo Stream section under Recents as well as in Events on Macs (no cable required).

Photo Stream also uploads photos from your computer. For example, if you take photos with a digital camera, and then move them to your computer, those photos are automatically uploaded to iCloud and pushed to your iOS devices, including your iPhone.

You can view them on your iPhone for 30 days, giving you time to save a copy on your iPhone, too, if you like. Only photos uploaded after you turned on Photo Stream will be placed in Photo Stream.

The most recent 1,000 photos from all sources are stored in Photo Stream on iCloud for 30 days. As you add new photos beyond the 1,000 limit, the oldest ones are deleted.

Photos are downloaded and stored in full resolution on your Mac or Windows PC, but they’re optimized for download speed and storage for your iOS devices.

To start using Photo Stream, do the following:

  • On your iPhone, open the Settings app, tap Photos & Camera, and tap My Photo Stream On. You must be connected to Wi-Fi for Photo Stream to function.

  • On your Mac (OS X 10.7.5 or later), open System Preferences, click iCloud, and click the check box next to Photos. Click Options and check both boxes in the dialog: My Photo Stream and Photo Sharing.

    In your Mac’s photo management program, go to Preferences and click the iCloud tab. Check the box next to My Photo Stream to turn it on, and while you’re there, click the box next to Photo Sharing. Then choose how you want Photo Stream to handle your photos:

    • Automatic Import: Photos that are pushed to the Photo Stream library on your Mac are automatically imported to iPhoto or Aperture. With this box checked, your photos are permanently stored on your computer in Events, Faces, and Places when they enter Photo Stream from another device.

    • Automatic Upload: All new photos are sent from your computer to Photo Stream. Deselecting this box means you manually drag photos into the Photo Stream library or select the photos and then choose Photo Stream from the pop-up Share menu at the bottom of the window.

      Although Photo Stream makes sure you don’t exceed the storage space on your iPhone, manually managing photos that go from your computer to Photo Stream limits the number of photos pushed to the Photo Stream library on your other devices.

  • On a Windows PC (7 or 8), download the iCloud Control Panel for Windows. Open the iCloud Control Panel and click the check box next to Photo Stream.

    On Windows, the process is manual: Drag photos you want in Photo Stream from your photo management application to the designated Photo Stream folder. The default folder is C:Users<user name>PicturesPhoto StreamMy Photo Stream, which you can change by clicking the Options button next to Photo Stream in the iCloud Control Panel.