I want all my iPhone pictures on my Mac, but NOT the other way around.
September 7, 2020 6:42 PM   Subscribe

I have a Mac running High Sierra (10.13) and an iPhone X running the latest iOS. I want the pictures on the iPhone to automatically sync to the Mac's Photos library. The problem is, turning on iCloud Photos will lead to the entire Photos library (which is many, many GB and dates back to 2006) trying to upload itself to iCloud. I don't want that! Is there any way to have the iPhone's photo library sync to iCloud and thus to the Mac automatically without forcing me to upload all of the old pictures on my Mac to iCloud?
posted by Seeking Direction to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I am quite some distance from having used an iPhone, but when I had one and wanted this, I have a distinct memory of the PhotoSync app. It's a third-party app but it automated syncing photos using any one of a handful of other syncing methods. It should hopefully do what you're looking for, although, not having an iPhone anymore, I can't offer step-by-step guidance.
posted by metabaroque at 11:49 PM on September 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The keyword you're looking for here is "My Photo Stream" versus "iCould Photos" in the Apple ID section of the Settings App on your iPhone. (iCloud -> Photos) That just sends your photos from your phone to the cloud, where your other subscribed devices (ipads, macs, etc) can download them. It only ever stores a thousand photos in the cloud, but devices with bulk storage (i.e. your mac's photo library) will store those photos indefinitely.

It's still pretty janky (I don't think videos get sent to the cloud and back, the cloud is great until it isn't, etc etc etc), so ultimately I still plug my iphone in to my Mac, fire up Mac Photos and sync them from my phone to my photo library manually, hoping that it successfully deduplicates the images.
posted by Kyol at 8:31 AM on September 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If I understand correctly, you have photos currently on your iPhone that you want to import to your Mac. After you've imported the photos, you'd like all photos that you take on your iPhone automatically sent to your Mac.

Here's how to do this:
  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac via a USB cable.
  2. Open Photos, select your iPhone from the sidebar, under Devices, and click the button to "Import All New Items" from your iPhone—this will ensure that all of your photos on your iPhone are on your Mac, no matter how old they are. Once the import is done, you can disconnect your iPhone.
  3. On your iPhone, go to Settings --> Photos, and switch "Upload to My Photo Stream" on. This will upload any new photos taken on your iPhone to your iCloud Photo Stream.
  4. On your Mac, in Photos, open Preferences, click the "iCloud" pane, and enable "My Photo Stream". This will tell your Mac to automatically download any new photos posted to your iCloud Photo Stream by your iPhone.
Some things to be aware of:
  • Only the last 30 days of photos are uploaded to your Photo Stream. The USB import that we did (in step 2) will handle photos and videos on your iPhone that are older than 30 days. Then, enabling Photo Stream (in step 3) will ensure that ongoing photos are synced over automatically.
  • Your Mac has to be on and logged in to sync with your Photo Stream—though Photos doesn't have to be open. As long as you keep your Mac on and logged in, the whole process is pretty seamless. If your Mac were to be switched off for more than 30 days, it would start to miss photos, and would require a USB sync.
  • Photo Stream does not handle videos. If you want videos from your iPhone transferred to your Mac, you'll have to import them via USB.

posted by vitout at 8:47 AM on September 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

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