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How to Use Photos (Albums) vs. Photo Stream on Your iPhone/iPad

Cameral RollThe Photos app that comes on your iPhone/iPad has two main functions: Albums and Photo Stream. Albums contains photos that you have taken with your iPhone/iPad or saved to your iPhone/iPad from a text message, email or website. They are pictures that are physically stored in your device in an Apple-named album called Camera Roll.

Photo Stream shows photos that you are sharing among your other devices or that have been shared with you by someone else. Photo Stream is a feature of Apple’s internet-based storage called iCloud and is your personal, centralized “location” for sharing photos.

(There is a third function called Places that I still do not understand how to assign within iPhone/iPad. I’ll let you know as soon as I do!)

How to use Photos Albums

These instructions assume that you have taken some pictures with your iPhone/iPad and have not deleted them.

  • Touch the Photos Icon icon.
  • Touch the Albums Icon icon on the bottom left.
  • Touch Camera Roll, which is the “home” album for all your photos.
  • It will open to thumbnails of all your pictures.
  • Touch Edit in the top right.

To email, text, share, print, copy, assign or use a photo as wallpaperShare Photos iPhone:iPad

  • Select the photos by touching each one to check it.
  • Touch Share on the bottom left.
  • Select your method.

To create or add photos to a previously created photo album

  • Touch each photo to be included in the album to check it.
  • Touch Add To on the bottom.
  • Select to either add to an existing album or create a new one. This will not move your original pictures from Camera Roll. Copies of your pictures go in albums you create.

To permanently delete photos from your iPhone/iPad

  • Touch each photo to be deleted to check it.
  • Touch Delete in the bottom right.

How to use Photo Stream

As Apple support says, “When you take photos on an iPhone/iPad/iTouch, or import photos from your digital camera to your computer, My Photo Stream can automatically upload your new photos to iCloud and push them to all of your other devices”. These instructions for the iPhone/iPad assume that you are using iOS 6 or later. If you need set up instructions for your Mac or a PC, click here.

To automatically add all photos taken on your iPhone/iPad to your Photo Stream:

  • Touch Settings.
  • Touch iCloud.
  • Touch Photo Stream.
  • Touch My Photo Stream ON.
  • Touch Shared Photo Streams ON to be able to privately share photos with others and from others.
  • Touch Settings in the top left.
  • Touch the Home key.

To only selectively share photos taken on your iPhone/iPad with others and add to your Photo Stream:

  • Touch Settings.
  • Touch iCloud.
  • Touch Photo Stream.
  • Touch My Photo Stream OFF.
  • Touch Shared Photo Streams ON to be able to privately share photos with others and from others.
  • Touch Settings in the top left.
  • Touch the Home key.
  • Touch the Photos Icon icon.
  • Touch the Albums Icon icon.
  • Touch Camera Roll, which is the “home” album for all your photos.
  • Touch Edit in the top right.
  • Touch each photo to check it.
  • Touch Share.
  • Touch Photo Stream.
  • Touch New Photo Stream.
  • Enter Contact names in the To: field.
  • Enter a new Name to name the shared Photo Stream.
  • Leave Public Website OFF.
  • Touch Next in top left.
  • Touch Post in top left.
  • This will create a new named Photo Stream in your iPhone/iPad and share it with others via email.

Some final thoughts on using Photo Albums and Photo Stream:

  • Do not worry that you are using extra space in your iPhone/iPad by saving your photos to Photo Stream. Camera Roll has your original photos. Photo Stream has copies of your original photos saved in iCloud.
  • Photo Stream will save your most recent 1000 photos in iCloud for 30 days. Long enough for you to download copies to your various devices.
  • You can set up your Mac or PC to automatically download and save your Photo Stream pictures permanently. This is the easiest way to save your iPhoto/iPad photos to your computer.
  • Remember – go to Camera Roll to see the photos that you’ve taken with your iPhone/iPad.

32 comments… add one

  • Joyce

    How do I delete photo stream albums?

    • Lynn

      Hi Joyce, from your iPhone/iPad, touch the Photos icon. Then touch Photo Stream along the bottom. To delete an entire Photo Stream album, touch the little blue arrow on the right side of the album name. Then touch Delete Photo Stream at the bottom and then Delete. To delete only some photos within an album, touch the album name, then Edit, then touch each photo to select and then touch Delete.
      Just remember that Photo Stream photos will be deleted on all of your devices and subscribers that shared those photos. It will not delete the original photos if they are still in your Camera Roll. Also, any Photo Stream photos that you have imported into events in iPhoto or Aperture or copied into a folder on your PC will not be deleted when you delete the photos from Photo Stream.

  • Cheryl

    I am wondering if you could tell me why, when I select just a few pics to send to Facebook, it sends my whole album, I’ve not selected the whole album. When I am able to just send a few pics, I get the comments from months ago, and the comments go with those pics!!

    • Lynn

      Hi Cheryl, I do not often upload photos to Facebook, so I don’t actually know the answers to your questions, but I can offer some suggestions. Are you sending the pictures via Apple’s “Photos” app or the Facebook app? If you are sharing through the “Photos” app, do it from your Camera Roll instead of a particular Album. If you tried sharing your photos through the Facebook app and you know it’s up-to-date, try sharing through the “Photos” app instead. I did some research regarding old comments being assigned to new photos, and it’s a widespread problem. I haven’t seen any solutions for it. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.
      Let me know if you figure it out!

  • Linda

    How can I set up on my PC to automatically download and save my Photo Stream pictures permanently. I understand this is the easiest way to save my iphone photos to my computer, but I don’t know how.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Lynn

      Hi Linda,
      Yes that is the easiest way to save iPhone photos to a PC.
      Download the iCloud Control Panel for Windows from this apple link:
      Be sure to read the PC system requirements near the bottom of the page. From what I’ve read, and I could be wrong, iCloud with Photo Stream only works on Windows 7 or 8, not XP or Vista.
      Once you have it installed on your computer, here are the set up instructions (scroll down the page to find Windows instructions):
      Hope that helps and thanks for reading!

  • Lisa

    If photos are put into an album on the ipad may they then be deleted from photostream?

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Lisa,
      Yes, if you put photos in an album on your ipad, you can delete the photos from photo stream and those photos will still be in your album.
      However, since albums are usually copies of pictures from your Camera Roll, if you delete those pictures from Camera Roll, you will delete them from your album. But, no problem deleting from photo stream.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Christian

    Hello, can I upload pictures and videos to iCloud, then delete them off my iPhone or iPad to save space (and if I delete the photos or videos from my devices, will I still be able to view them from iCloud)?

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Christian, Your question is very timely because with Apple’s newest iOS update 8.1 there is a new feature called iCloud Photo Library. You turn it on by going to Settings > Photos & Camera. iCloud Photo Library will automatically store your photos and videos in iCloud, which will make them available across your devices and accessible from icloud.com. Sounds great, but the drawback is that you can quickly go over your free 5GB in iCloud and will have to purchase more storage. There is a great FAQ at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6378. I foresee a new article on the whole Photo Stream/iCloud challenge in my near future!

      • Christian

        Thank you so much for your quick response!

  • brenda

    I am trying to upload my photos from icloud to my new phone but the pictures are uploading with a different date taken. How can I change it to the original date the photo was taken?

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Brenda,
      I’m not sure I know the answer, but are you uploading from the new iCloud Photo Library, or the new iCloud Drive, or was this an iCloud backup restoration into your new iPhone? Do you still have your old iPhone with the photos in it?
      Thanks for reading!

  • Jocelyn

    If I have photos that I took from my iphone and have photo streamed them to my ipad. I want to delete the photos from phone to get more space on my phone, but I want to make sure they stay on my ipad is that possible and what do I need to do before I delete them from the phone to still have them on my ipad?

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Jocelyn,
      You must put the photos you want to be available on your iPad into a Shared Album (iOS 8) or Share Photo Stream (iOS 7) before you delete the originals from your iPhone. With Apple’s changes over the past few weeks, I need to rewrite the above article because so much is different. To get you started, open your photos on your iPhone and open either your Camera Roll or All Photos. It’s going to depend on your updates and settings. Touch Select and then each photo you want to put into a Shared Album/Photo Stream. Touch the little box with the arrow and then either iCloud Photo Sharing or Photo Stream. In the pop-up scroll down and touch Shared Album or Photo Stream. Touch New Shared Album or Photo Stream and enter a name. Touch Next. It will prompt you to enter email addresses for “sharing” this album, but you don’t have to. Touch next. Then go to the Shared tab on the bottom of Photos and you should see your shared album on both the iPhone and iPad. Then you can delete the originals from your iPhone’s Camera Roll or All Photos. I highly recommend that you take a couple of throw-away shots and practice putting them in a shared album and then deleting the originals first. I also recommend that you save your favorite photos from your iPhone on your computer. I am going to write about all the new photo options soon, so please check back!
      Thanks for reading,

  • Chris

    Hi Lynn,

    Can you please tell me how to delete photos from iPhone 5 camera roll and my photo stream without deleting the same photos from the albums that I created /added under photos.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Chris,
      If you delete from your Camera Roll, it will delete the pictures from Albums you set up on your iPhone 5. Deleting from Camera Roll will also delete from your Photo Stream. One workaround would be to create shared Photo Streams instead of Albums. You don’t even have to share them with anyone, but Apple will keep them in the cloud for you without using your 5GB of free iCloud memory and they will be accessible from your iPhone without taking up much space. I am going to write a new article very soon regarding this whole Apple photo dilemma. Please watch for it or subscribe to be alerted by email when I post it.
      Thanks for reading,

  • My ipad “photos” app no longer shows the number of the photos in albums. It also no longer moves smoothly from photo to photo. Should I get another app?

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Char,
      I’m checking on this and will let you know.
      Thanks for reading!

      • Lynn Huffman

        Hi Char,
        Sorry for the delay.
        You are correct. It’s crazy but the iPad does not show the number of photos in albums while the iPhone still does. And yes, the recent update causes some programs to be “jerky” on the iPad.
        My advice is to wait for the next update. They seem to come out pretty often and see if these issues are corrected. I believe they will be – eventually.

  • Shaun keppel

    Does a photo go into photo stream without sending it to someone. Y would a photo b in photo stream but not camera roll

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Shaun,
      I may not have the definitive answer, but here’s what I know:
      1) If you have a second Apple device, using the same Apple ID, with Photo Stream turned on, then the Photo Stream on both devices will be a combination of each device’s Camera Roll (up to 1000 photos).
      2) A shared photo stream can have photos which are not in Camera Roll. Whether they were shared with you or you shared with someone else.
      Hope that helps and thanks for reading!

  • Paul askiner

    I had a few albums beside camera roll when I used whatsapp to send fotos in groups and chat. I had an album called Photos and One called Videos. Now they are not there. I only see Camera Roll. If I go through photos and click album they are there but no matter what I do I can not have them appear in the place camera roll is when I try to share a photo or video through whatsapp. any ideas how to fix it?

    • Lynn Huffman

      I did some checking and it’s a Whatsapp issue. Take a look at this discussion about the problem: Just skip down to the last few discussion boxes and you’ll see a temporary workaround.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Prats

    How do I share photos that are not taken on my iPhone and not on my camera roll but on a diff album altogether (ie took them on a DSLR and copied them onto my iPhone in a separate album) on Whatsapp??

    • Lynn Huffman

      I’ve tried to recreate your problem to give you an answer, but I’m struggling.
      When you are trying to send a photo from Whatsapp and touch the arrow in the circle to “choose existing photo,” are you not seeing those photos in the All Photos list? How did you copy your DSLR pictures onto your iPhone?

  • Neha

    In my albums only recently added photos are shown while in photos it has all the photos captured or saved till date…albums by each passing day deletes some photos…but i want all of them to be saved in albums also…i have also turned off my photostream sharing then also it deletes some evryday…

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Neha,
      You may have already found this out, but once you update your iPhone to iOS 8.1 or later, the Recently Added folder will be gone. If you have Photo Stream off, there should be no automatic “deleting” of photos unless you do it. You can create Albums with photos from your Camera Roll.
      I recommend that you consider turning Photo Stream back on. It will keep up to 1000 of your most recent photos and makes it easy to share those pictures with your other devices. The oldest pictures “roll out” of Photo Stream as you take more photos, but the original photos are still on the device that took them in either Camera Roll or All Photos, depending on your settings.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Steve

    I added a album in setting up the cloud service. It simply has a name, no photo’s. I simply wish to delete the empty non used album in my album list. How do I do that? I have lost 3/4 of my hair trying to figure it out. Thanks

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Steve,
      I may not be understanding your question, but have you tried doing the following from either an iPhone or iPad? Open Photos, touch Albums, touch Edit in the top right, touch the red circle beside the album you want to delete, then Delete and finally Done in the top right.
      Let me know if that’s not the answer you’re seeking. I wouldn’t want you to pull out the remaining 1/4 of your hair!

  • Paul

    I’d like to move pictures from camera roll or photo stream and put them in pre existing albums but when I select them and click add to, the albums are all greyed out?

    • Lynn Huffman

      Hi Paul,
      You can only copy photos to albums that you created on that iPhone or iPad – not albums you synced from your computer. Is that your situation? You should have the option to create a new album on the device, though. Reply back if this is not your situation.
      Thanks for reading!

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