Enable iCloud Photo Stream service on my Mac?

I enabled the Apple iCloud service “Photo Stream” on my iPhone, but the pictures don’t magically show up on my MacBook Pro like they do in the TV advert. Presumably, there’s something I have to do for it to work on my Mac. What’s the trick? And is there a Photo Stream app??


Dave’s Answer:

It’s not surprising that you’re a bit confused by the Photo Stream service that’s a much-vaunted part of iCloud. The fact is that while it’s slick magic to have pictures just magically transfer between your devices, it’s a bit hard to figure out what’s going on and Apple hasn’t made it any easier with an obviously missing “send to photostream” feature or “don’t include in photostream”, for that matter.

On iOS devices, there’s an iCloud setting area in “Settings” that lets you specify what you want synchronized or backed up to the cloud-based service, including whether or not you want that particular device to subscribe to Photo Stream. If you do opt in, new photos will also show up on the device as well as photos take on the device transferring to other subscribing devices.

On the Mac, however, it’s a bit more confusing. The photo stream itself is going to show up either in iPhoto or Aperture, depending on which you use, but it’s invisible until you turn on the feature and there are some photographs to share. Before it’s enabled and there are pics, you simply won’t see the extra tab in the program.

But let’s start with the System Preferences…, where you’ll need to click on the “iCloud” button. Here’s what you see:

mac icloud photo stream 1

As you can tell, I sync up just about everything with iCloud except Photo Stream. To turn it on is simple, though. A click of a checkbox does the trick…

Now in Aperture, there’s a new option on the left side: “Photo Stream”:

mac icloud photo stream 2

The first time you enable it, you’ll get this heads up from Apple:

mac icloud photo stream 3

Note that any pictures in Aperture (or iPhoto, if that’s what you’re using) you drag onto the Photo Stream option are automatically shared out to other subscribing devices, as are all the pictures in any future import you do from a camera into Aperture (or iPhoto). That can be a lot!

Once I have added some pictures to the stream, either on my Mac, iPad or iPhone, they show up automatically everywhere. Here’s one that I took on my phone and that showed up in Aperture no less than fifteen seconds later, without any work or button clicking on my part:

mac icloud photo stream 4

Quite handy, once you get it working. Don’t like a picture that’s in your stream? In Aperture, you can simply Ctrl-click on it and one of the contextual menu options is delete:

mac photostream enabled aperture delete picture

Easy enough. The same holds true in iPhoto too, if you’re a fan of that program instead.

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