"Free" Photo Sync to Apple Photos (aka iPhoto) is going away

June 27, 2023 by
"Free" Photo Sync to Apple Photos (aka iPhoto) is going away
David Farrow

For many years, Apple customers who use a free iCloud account have been able to sync photos from iPhones and iPad to their Mac or PC Photos app (formerly called iPhoto) for free; "My Photo Stream" would transfer the most recent 1000 photos to any iCloud devices signed in on the same account, within 30 days of the photo being taken.  It was transparent, easy, and almost reliable.

Apple has announced that this feature is no longer going to be supported; they are intentionally phasing it out over  30 days that started June 26; after July 26, the last photos in the "stream" will disappear and the feature will go away forever.  Why are they doing this?  Because they really want customers to use "Apple Photo Sync."  Apple Photo Sync works fine, but it stores a copy of your entire photo library online and keeps the entire thing in sync between devices.

Not all users necessarily want full library sync; often, just getting the latest photos is the only thing they need. Further, many users have photo libraries that are many tens of gigabytes; Apple's "free" iCloud tier taps out at just 5 gigabytes; so to fully sync a large library one has to rent additional iCloud storage from Apple.  So it isn't "free" anymore.

So what are our options here, assuming we don't want to upgrade to Apple Photo Sync? 

1) You can still sync photos to Photos app on Mac or PC by plugging in a USB cable.  Generally, only the latest photos will transfer (e.g., all the ones that are new since the last sync).  While it's not automatic, this solution is both free and highly under the users control.

2) You can use a 3rd party service.  DropBox for example will allow you to automatically upload anything added to the Camera Roll on the phone to a folder in DropBox; this accomplishes the "automatic instant backup" function that used to be inherent and automatic with My Photo Stream.  Of course DropBox accounts only come with 2 GB of storage for free, so unless you subscribe to a larger storage pool there, you have a limited repository.  Also, the photos in the DropBox folder won't be in the Photos app until you drag them in there, then clear them out of the DropBox folder.  If you don't mind having to manually transfer the photos on a regular basis, or if you just need to do this once in a while, this may solve it for you.

Microsoft OneDrive, Google Photos, and several other services have similar functions, many of which are usable for free, or utilizing accounts you may already have in place.

Check out this article for more details and specific instructions (or have Creative Goose  help you!).

"Free" Photo Sync to Apple Photos (aka iPhoto) is going away
David Farrow June 27, 2023
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