How to Manage Your iPhone Photos #2 iPhone photo settings you need to understand

In my last article, I suggested seven reasons for learning to manage the photos on your iPhone.

From simply saving time in the long run to leaving a cherished legacy to your loved ones, mastering your photographic chaos will pay you back in spades.

In this, Part 2, of the iPhone photo management series, I will explain the iPhone settings that affect your photo management: iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Sharing and Summarize Photos.

iCloud Photo Library is called a cloud storage service, but it’s really a cloud synchronization service and should not be used for keeping a permanent backup of your photos. When iCloud Photo Library is turned on, all of your photos and videos from your iPhone, iPad, and even computer (if set up for it) are synchronized and can be seen on all of your devices.

There are two problems with iCloud Photo Library if you use it:

  1. You will quickly run out of your first 5GB of free iCloud storage from Apple and have to pay monthly for more storage space.
  2. It is not a backup for your photos. It is a synchronization service. Do not fall victim into thinking that iCloud Photo Library keeps a copy of all of your photos forever. If you delete a photo from your iPhone or iPad, it will delete it in iCloud Photo Library also.

My Photo Stream acts like iCloud Photo Library in that it automatically synchronizes photos taken with your iPhone or iPad so they can be seen on all of your devices. So what’s the difference?

  1. It only synchronizes your most recent photos and not the videos. According to Apple, it will keep up to 1000 photos for 30 days. In my experience, it keeps photos until you reach the 1000 photo limit and then removes the oldest ones as newer ones are added.
  2. It does not synchronize your videos.
  3. It does not have the capability to synchronize photos that are saved in your computer, which iCloud Photo Library can do.
  4. It only works over WiFi.
  5. It does not count against your free 5GB of iCloud storage.

Functionally, iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream are so similar, that I am surprised that Apple still offers My Photo Stream. As long as it’s available though, My Photo Stream is my preferred photo synchronization service.

iCloud Photo Sharing is another free photo synchronization tool from Apple that is under-used by most people. Instead of synchronizing photos among your own devices, it lets you synchronize specific pictures and short videos to the iPhones and iPads of your friends. You create what is called a Shared Album and then invite your friends and family to view the album on their own Apple devices. Other benefits are:

  1. Your invited friends and family can add photos to the shared albums for all of you to see.
  2. You can create a shared album and not share it with anyone. It’s a way to keep special groups of photos in your iPhone without taking up as much space as they do in Camera Roll (or All Photos).

Summarize Photos is an option to reduce the number of photos displayed in Years, Collections and Moments. If you keep a lot of photos from lots of years on your iPhone, it may be helpful to have Summarize Photos ON. However, since my intent is to help you reduce the number of pictures on your iPhone, Summarize Photos can be OFF. 

In Part 3 of this series, I will provide detailed instructions on how to organize, share and download your photos.

2 replies
  1. Ann Unrein
    Ann Unrein says:

    I have tried EVERY suggestion found on the Internet, but I still cannot get my iPhone photos to go to my iPad. I’ve had this problem only for the past 2 months. To clarify what would seem most important: BOTH my devices have “Upload to My Photo Stream” turned on. Also, I’m always connected to WiFi in my home, and I keep both my devices charged above 30%. Please help, if possible! Thank you!


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