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Using Shared Photo Stream Instead of Sync for iOS Device Galleries

Joseph @PhotoApps.Expert's picture
December 31, 2012 - 10:31pm

Those of us that have iPads know that they are a fantastic way to show off your favorite photos, wether it’s to a potential client or to grandma over the holidays. The problem is, syncing your photos to your iPad can be a bit of a chore. We’ve gone through loads of different options and ways to do this, which gets especially complicated when managing multiple libraries, but I recently realized that there’s a much better solution to this.

Use Shared Photo Streams instead

Shared Photo Stream is a Mountain Lion + iOS 6 + Aperture 3.4 and above feature, so you’ll need to be fully up-to-date to use this, but if you can run all that this is a great way to go.

Instead of syncing photos through iTunes, simply publish a Shared Photo Stream — even if you don’t add anyone else to it. As soon as you create it it appears on all your iOS devices, and you can add and remove photos from it at will, all automatically synced! You can have as many streams as you like, too, so it’s easy to keep projects separated as needed.

You can even add additional photos to the stream from other devices. Say you have a “best of the kids” Shared Photo Stream, and you capture an amazing shot on your iPhone that deserves to be in the batch. Just share the photo to that already existing stream, and it’s updated everywhere. Say you’re sitting at your desk and are about to dash off to meet a potential client, and realize that you really should add those most recent photos to your iPad before you do. Just add them to an existing stream in Aperture, or to a new one, and run out the door. You don’t even have to wait for it to finish syncing if you have a data plan; that’ll happen over the air on your way to your meeting.

The only limitation I’ve seen is that Places data isn’t shared, even though “include location data in published photos” is enabled in the preferences. I don’t use Faces, but I’d imagine that the same will happen there (if not please let us know in the comments!) It’s also worth noting that Photo Stream limits the size to 2048, but that’s the rez of the iPad 3rd and fourth generation, so unless you really need to pinch into photos at full resolution, I think this is a great option.

One more thing…

Another great advantage of this, and quite possible the best advantage for those of us that travel a lot and leave our main Aperture library behind, is that this makes it easy to change what photos are on your iPad. While you can’t temporarily turn off a single Photo Stream without deleting it entirely (removing it from one device will delete it from all, since you’re the publisher), you do at least have the ability to remove them to free up space as needed. More importantly though, if you’re traveling with a laptop and have a working library on that, you can add photos to your Photo Stream while on the road, getting them onto your iOS devices instantly. This has been a real problem for me in the past; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remove ALL photos, completely resetting my Photos sync on my iPad, because I really needed photos from the current project (i.e. client shoot) on my iPad right away — and my iPad was synced to my computer back home.

These days, the only albums on my iOS devices under the Albums tab are ones created by apps (Snapseed, Instagram, and HipstaPrints albums populate my iPhone for example); the rest of my photos I want to have ready to show can be found under Photo Stream.

Apple Aperture
Joseph @PhotoApps.Expert

Great idea! And it was very simple to set up in Aperture too! One question: do the photos count against whatever quota amount one might have on their iCloud account?

Photostream images are limited to 1000 and do not count against the iCloud limit.

So with that said, if you have 1000 images already on your stream then the next new image will move over to the stream. However, the oldest image will be auto deleted. Make sure you save most wanted images that are the oldest some place else before their long and gone ~ assuming that same image isn’t on your camera roll.

So with that said, if you have 1000 images already on your stream then the next new image will move over to the stream. However, the oldest image will be auto deleted. Make sure you save most wanted images that are the oldest some place else before their long and gone ~ assuming that same image isn’t on your camera roll.

Don’t mix “My Photo Stream” limits with “Shared Photo Stream” limits. They are separate. This Aperture Expert tip is about Shared Photo Streams. This Apple Support Article describes the Shared Photo Stream limits.

You can have up to 100 shared photo streams with up to 1000 photos each. It doesn’t mention anything about a 30 day limit on the shared photo stream. There are other limitations imposed on the shared photo stream that you can read in the support article.


Great article Joseph, definitely gonna give it a try.
Thanks :)

This is a brilliant idea - I stumbled at first, in your Prefs->iCloud->Photostream you need to switch on Shared Photo Streams, otherwise Aperture doesn’t pop up the dialog to create a shared stream.

This is so much easier than going via iTunes, you should get a medal or something for thinking of this.

Bill. ;-)

Trying to use Photostream, but am frustrated by the removal of the filter box when viewing photo stream! I have photos from various cameras, and I would like to be able to filter out just the iPhone5 shots - rather than have to wade through a hodgepodge mix of shots. How do we get filters when viewing the photo stream?

Very nice, but: after “posting” a couple of streams I see them in order of last change, but I’d like to see my streams in alphabetical order (name of the streams) !?


Thomas — Thanks for posting that link and correcting folks on the differences between Photo Stream and Shared Photo Stream limits.

Bill — aren’t you kind ;-)

Brian — You’re right that there are no filtering options for the live Photo Stream, however assuming that you have the Photo Stream set to Automatically Import [screenshot], then you can filter the photos from that Project. By default that will be named something like “Jan 2013 Photo Stream”, but remember too that you can move and rename that project and Aperture will still find it to load more photos. (article: “Did You Know… You Can Move and Rename Your Photo Stream Projects”.

Gert — I’m afraid there’s currently no way that I’m aware of to reorder your Photo Streams. Yes alphabetically would make sense; can’t say why it doesn’t work that way.

-Joseph @PhotoApps.Expert
— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

Just did this tonight. It’s awesome!

Do photos in your photo stream (on Aperture) prevent them from being imported into Aperture if you have “do not import duplicates” selected?


Just got my first phone ever (iPhone5) and set this up. It is really cool and a nice way to display photos and control who views. Thanks Joseph and the rest who made posts on this thread.

I'd much rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

I have had this problem in the past and did get a little fed up with itunes completely rebuliding the 30gb or so of images synced from my main library. Totally unrelated, I setup my website about a year ago and used zenfolio. Zenfolio give you unlimited storage and the most awesome iphone app (sync specific photos and/or folders). So I now export anything I may want to keep to zenfolio (in password protected and hidden folders if necessary - they don’t all appear on the site to any visitor!). That gives me:
1) Full back up of key images
2) Take away portability on iOS devices
3) Access them anywhere else either
4) Share if I want to
I like the idea of photo stream but I don’t trust it; I don’t like the fact a deletion from one device controls the others.

I like this way of putting images on my iDevices. One thing which bothers me though.. How will I add new photos to those shared photostreams? I currently have 10 streams/albums. In a month I will have new pictures in most of them… They won’t upload in the streams automatically, so maybe I will have to reupload all of them (in order to not miss some)..
One thing I noticed on my phone. The quality of the photostream pics is better than the one of the iTunes upload way..

I’m not sure I follow you Stefan. If you created a Shared stream(album) in Aperture, all you would have to do is add more photos to the album and they would automatically become part of the stream. And if you take a photo with your iPhone that you like and want to share, simply move it to the album (stream) you like right from your phone. I’m not much of a tech guy so there are others here who might be able to give you a better answer.

I'd much rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.


You can tell which photos in an album have been shared in the Info tab of the Inspector. Select the Sharing item from the popup menu of the Info tab. If a photo has been shared, it will list where. If it has not been shared, it will state so. Unfortunately it only works on the primary selection in the browser. So if you select a group of photos, the Sharing status will only be for the primary selection (the one with the thicker white border). So you would need to select each photo in the album in turn to check its sharing status.

If you select all and re-share them to the same album as you suggest, unfortunately you will get duplicates in the shared stream of those images that were already shared.

The limitation in the current version of Aperture is that you cannot search the browser based on sharing status. It is not one of the available search terms. If Apple were to add this in a future update, you could search the album easily and find the new images not yet shared.

Seems your only solution is to use the sharing status in the Info tab to determine which new photos in the album to share (one at a time) or delete all the photos in the stream and add the entire album back with the new ones.



Thank you for the tips, Tom.

One bigger problem occurred. I am having difficulties uploading photos in a shared stream.. It just doesn’t work. It worked in the beginning, but now it is very random. In example, for few shared streams it doesn’t upload even one photo (it is a new stream, not an already made one). For other - it uploads less images than I selected (172 instead of 795). I restarted both the app and the Mac. I am certainly sure that it is not my fault and I do everything as I should. But any advice will be appreciated.


Just to clarify- creating a shared stream, rather than a regular photostream is just so that you can have multiple streams? I mean, an iPad sees your photostream, so I’m a little confused why you need to do this unless you just want to get around the 1000 photo limit. (The beginning of this article claims the benefit is to have all your photos instantly synced on all iOS devices, minus iTunes, but I thought that’s what a non-shared photostream does. What does sharing add?)


The “My Photo Stream” contains all images added by all devices plus Aperture or iPhoto on the Mac. If you take several photos with your phone at a party for example, they all show up in My Photo Stream - even the ones with your finger over the lens. And if you edit an image on your device, it doesn’t automatically get re-added back to the stream.

Using Shared photo streams, you can better control exactly what you are sharing. Only images you specifically add after selection and editing for example. And you can control whether they get shared via the web or with specific friends or with no one but yourself. Not to mention you can share one album with one group of friends and another with another group, etc.



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