PadGadget How -To Guide: How To Use Photo Stream

With Apple’s update to version 5.1, iOS users are now able to send images to all of their compatible devices, including computers, automatically. When you take a picture of little Adriana’s piano recital, it will immediately head for “the cloud” and be safe and easy to find from anywhere. Since we have such convenient new technology at our literal fingertips, we thought we’d give you some basic pointers to best take advantage of this new photo-sharing service.

If you haven’t already updated your mobile operating system to iOS 5.1, you must do so in order to use Photo Stream. You should also update any other Apple-related operating systems to the most current. Apple TV should be version 5.0 or later, Mac should be version 10.7.3 or later and iPhoto should be 9.2.2 or later. If you use a PC at home, you should throw it out. No, just kidding. You should have Windows 7, Windows Vista, or later and the iCloud Control Panel for Windows.

The first thing you will need to do to get started syncing photos is turn on Photo Stream. Go to your “Settings” app and tap the iCloud icon on the left side of the screen and turn on Photo Stream. Do this with all of your mobile devices.

To sync your photos to your Mac, go to your Systems Preferences and click the iCloud icon. You will see a list of services that can be synced with iCloud. Turn on Photo Stream by selecting it from the window on the right. If you have an older version of iPhoto or Aperture, you will have to upgrade before you can use Photo Stream. Luckily, Apple makes it very easy to install the most current version of iPhoto and Aperture by offering them in the Mac App Store. To sync your photos on a PC, open the iCloud Control Panel for Windows and check the box for Photo Stream.

Once Photo Stream is working on all of your devices, photos will automatically be sent to the cloud after a picture has been taken and you are connected to wireless Internet. Keep in mind that your photos won’t go to the cloud when you are on a cellular network. You have to be connected to Wi-Fi for the photos to push.

When you upload photos to iPhoto or Aperture on your Mac, they will also automatically head for the cloud. You can change the settings in both programs to manually drag images that you’ve uploaded to Photo Stream instead. On a PC, drag the selected images to a Photo Stream upload folder.

Your photos only stay in iCloud for 30 days, but that just means you have to make sure your device connects to Wi-Fi within that time period. Your iPhone or iPad will connect and download the images to Photo Stream once that happens.

If you have opened up your Photo app on your iPad, but don’t see images that you took with your iPhone, its probably because you are in the wrong place. To view your Photo Stream, make sure you are at the main screen in your Photos app. You should see a couple of different categories at the top of the page. You should see, “Photos,” “Photo Stream,” “Albums,” “Events,” and “Places.” Tap Photo Stream and you’ll see all images from all devices that sync with iCloud.

Photo Stream supports a full range resolution images. It stores the big dogs on your Mac or PC and reduces them for iPads and iPhones to a “device-optimized” resolution for download speed and storage space. It recognizes JPEGs, TIFFs, PGNs, and most RAW photo formats, so if you are a pro with your DSLR, you can sync your gigantic RAW photos in iCloud as well.

Photo Stream does not count toward your iCloud storage, so you don’t have to worry about overloading your precious 2GB with pictures of Grandma Margret’s dog after its trip to the groomer.

If you want to delete an image from Photo Stream, it is as simple as tapping the trash can. Once you delete an image from Photo Stream, it removes it from everywhere. Be careful not to delete images that you want to save. Just because you don’t want it on your iPad, doesn’t mean you don’t want it on your Mac.

It is that simple. Once you’ve upgraded all of your devices and operating systems and turned on Photo Stream, you’re ready to go.

About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik

  • lorygil

    Don’t delete the image in your Photo Stream library. If you took it with your iPad, delete it from your Camera Roll album only. Leave it in Photo Stream. That doesn’t take up any storage space anyway.