It’s never been easier to take amazing photos, mostly because practically every device you own has a camera on it. What’s not so easy is keeping track of all the pictures you take on those devices. Sure, you could connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer and manually sync your photo library. Or you could use a cloud photo service to keep everything in sync automatically.
Thankfully, Apple has a cloud-based photo service, My Photo Stream, that’s designed to help keep your most recent photos in sync across all of your devices. Keep reading for a deep dive into My Photo Stream and see what separates it from Apple’s more robust photo service, iCloud Photos.
Understanding My Photo Stream
If you have My Photo Stream turned on, it gets rid of all of the headaches and hassles that come with transferring your pictures back and forth across your devices. Still, it’s not without flaws and may not be suited for all of your needs. Let’s take a closer look at how My Photo Stream works and what it works for.
What is Photo Stream on iPhone?
My Photo Stream looks like any other photo album in the Photos app. It allows you to view all of your most recent pictures and videos, no matter what device you took them with. For example, if you take a picture using your iPhone, My Photo Stream will automatically sync it across all your Apple devices so that the next time you pick up your iPad, you’ll see that picture in your Photo Stream.
There are some limitations to My Photo Stream. It only saves your last 1,000 pictures for 30 days. So, while My Photo Stream doesn’t save your photo library in its entirety, it does guarantee that regardless of which device you’re using, you’ll always have your most recent pictures saved.
How My Photo Stream can help you
One of the most significant ways My Photo Stream can help is with improving your photo editing workflow. Shortly after you take a picture on your iPhone, you’ll see it in your Photo Stream on your computer without ever physically connecting the two. From there, you can make any edits or just organize it in the library on your computer.
This is obviously a much simpler way to sync pictures between devices and access your recent iCloud photos, but it’s also a huge time-saver — provided you’re on a reliable Wi-Fi network.
What’s the difference between iCloud Photos and My Photo Stream?
If you’re familiar with using iCloud Photos and think that My Photo Stream sounds very similar, you’re not wrong. The best way to differentiate the two is to think of Photo Stream as a way of syncing your latest pictures between all of your devices, while iCloud Photos is more about syncing and backing up your entire photo library.
Because iCloud Photos syncs everything in your library, it doesn’t have the same limitations as Photo Stream. It can sync pictures older than 30 days and supports Live Photos and videos. But you only get 5 GB of storage space for free. If you need more space, you can pay for an upgrade.
My Photo Stream is free and doesn’t have any storage space limitations. So while it doesn’t support Live Photos or videos, it also doesn’t cost you anything to wirelessly sync your newest pictures between your devices.
Does My Photo Stream use iCloud storage?
My Photo Stream doesn’t utilize any of your iCloud storage, but it does use space locally on each device. That means the same picture is using space on your iPhone, iPad, computer, and wherever else you have My Photo Stream turned on.
Using iPhone’s Photo Stream
The best thing about Photo Stream is that all you have to do is turn it on on all of your devices, and that’s it. My Photo Stream automatically uploads your pictures as you take them or as soon as you have an active internet connection, so you don’t have to give it a second thought.
Before you upload your photos
The number of photos you see in My Photo Stream is limited, so you don’t want to waste that on 15 photos of the exact same thing every time or the screenshots you took and forgot to delete. So before you sync 1,000 of your most recent photos to My Photo Stream, do a quick cleanup with Gemini Photos.
Here’s how to declutter your iPhone photos before uploading them:
- Download Gemini Photos on your iPhone.
- Launch it and grant it access to your photo library.
- Tap similar > current month.
- Go through groups of similar photos, mark the ones you don’t want, and tap Move to Trash.
- Then tap Your Library and go to Screenshots, Notes, or Blurred.
- All the screenshots, photos of text, and blurry photos will be pre-selected. Review them and tap Delete All.
You can also go through your videos in the Videos module and delete the ones you don’t want, as well as head to Other and swipe through all of your photos to get rid of those you don’t like.
How to access My Photo Stream
On your iPhone, you’ll be able to access My Photo Stream directly in the Photos app.
- Open the Photos app.
- Tap Albums.
- Tap My Photo Stream.
If you don’t see an album called My Photo Stream, make sure you don’t have iCloud Photos and My Photo Stream both turned on. If you have both enabled, your pictures will appear in the Recents album instead.
How to turn on and turn off My Photo Stream
Fortunately, the process is the same for iPhone and iPad. Just follow these steps to turn My Photo Stream on or off on an iOS device.
- On your device, open Settings.
- Tap on your Apple ID account.
- Tap iCloud > Photos.
- Switch Upload to My Photo Stream on or off.
If you want to turn My Photo Stream on and off on your Mac:
- Open the Photos app.
- Click Photos > Settings > iCloud.
- Select the box next to My Photo Stream.
And finally, if you want to turn My Photo Stream on or off with your Windows PC:
- Open the iCloud for Windows app.
- Sign in to your iCloud account if you’re not already signed in.
- Next to Photos, click Options.
- Select the checkbox next to My Photo Stream.
- Click Done.
Troubleshooting My Photo Stream
If you don’t see your most recent pics from your other devices when you open your Photo Stream, there could be a couple of different issues at play. Below are some common problems and what you can do to fix them.
If you’re looking for a specific picture, remember that My Photo Stream only keeps your last 1,000 pictures for 30 days.
How do I get My Photo Stream to update?
Here are some of the more common issues and fixes you can try to get your Photo Stream updated:
- Use the same Apple ID. My Photo Stream only syncs with the Apple ID it’s connected to; ensure that you’re logged into the same Apple ID on all of your devices.
- Turn on My Photo Stream on all devices. Even though your iPhone might have My Photo Stream enabled, your other devices might not.
- Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi. Keep your iPhone connected to a Wi-Fi network. My Photo Stream won’t update using cellular data.
- Plug your iPhone into power. My Photo Stream can’t sync if the device’s battery is below 20%.
Why did My Photo Stream disappear?
If you’ve been using My Photo Stream but suddenly notice that the album has disappeared, here are a couple of possible reasons:
- You turned on iCloud Photos. If you have both My Photo Stream and iCloud Photos turned on at the same time, then all of your pics will appear in the Recents album.
- You signed in with a different Apple ID. As mentioned earlier, if you change the Apple ID you’re using, then your Photo Stream will disappear.
- You accidentally turned off My Photo Stream. You can turn My Photo Stream back on by going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos and tapping the Upload to My Photo Stream switch.
My Photo Stream is a great feature that allows you to keep all of your most recent pictures in sync across all of your devices. It saves you time transferring pictures back and forth, especially if you like to use your iPhone camera to take pics and then edit them on your computer. And hopefully, you’ll be able to use My Photo Stream to make your process easier and faster.