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How to access your iCloud Photo Stream from your Mac

How to access your iCloud Photo Stream

One of the great features of iOS these days is iCloud, Apple’s answer to cloud storage. And even if you don’t take advantage of all the features iCloud offers, you probably have used at least one of them: Photo Stream. With Photo Stream turned on, each photo you take with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is uploaded to your iCloud account, which allows you to easily sync them to your other Apple devices.

Unfortunately, accessing your photos uploaded to your Photo Stream is not necessarily obvious. Here is a quick guide to accessing your iCloud Photo Stream photos from your Mac.

Turning on Photo Stream in iOS

Before you can access your Photo Stream on your Mac, you’ll need to have it turned on through your iOS device. Once you do, each photo will be automatically uploaded to your Photo Stream, and remain there for 30 days (or until you’ve reached the 1,000-picture limit, at which point the oldest ones will be replaced with newer photos).

To enable Photo Stream on your iOS device: Go to Settings > iCloud > Photo Stream. Slide the switch over so it reads “On.” You’re Done!

Using iPhoto

The absolute simplest way to access your Photo Stream photos is though iPhoto. For this example, we used the most recent version of iPhoto (iPhoto ’11, version 9.4.1).

  1. Open iPhoto. At the bottom of the menu on the left side, under “Web,” you’ll find the “Photo Stream” option.
  2. Click “Photo Stream.” You will see a yellow notice on the screen that explains how to get started.
  3. Click the arrow icon at the end of the notice text, and click the box next to the “My Photo Stream” option. Now your photos will begin to load into iPhoto. If you have a lot of photos already in your Photo Stream, it could take a while before they’re all synced.

If you decide you no longer want to have Photo Stream turned on in iPhoto, simply click “iPhoto” in the top menu bar, then “Preferences.” Click the “Photo Stream” icon, then uncheck the box next to “My Photo Stream.”

Note: Disabling Photo Stream on iPhoto will automatically remove access to these photos through iPhoto. But don’t worry: You can re-add your Photo Stream anytime.

Using a saved Smart Folder

If you’re not a fan of iPhoto, fear not: There is another, slightly more complicated (but still totally easy), way to access your Photo Stream from your Mac.

  1. Open Finder. C
  2. Click “command,” “shift,” and “G” (⌘⇧G) all at the same time, which will bring up the “Go to folder” option in Finder.
  3. Paste the following text into the “Go to folder” field: ~/Library/Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub. Hit “Enter.”
  4. Click “command” and “F” (⌘F) together to bring up a new search interface.
  5. At the top-left of the window, you should see two options after the word “Search”: “This Mac” and “sub.” Click “sub” to highlight it.
  6. Underneath that line, you’ll see the word “Kind.” Leave that be. But in the next drop-down menu, change the type to “Image.” Another drop-down menu will appear. Change that one to “JPEG.” Now all your Photo Stream images will show up in the window. (There will probably be some other pictures in there as well. You can tell Photo Stream images because they will have a green check mark on the thumbnail.)
  7. Finally, click the “Save” button on the right side, and name the Smart Folder whatever you like. (We’d go with “Photo Stream,” for simplicity’s sake.) Leave the “Add to sidebar” box checked for easy access in the Finder window. And you’re done!

(Smart Folder instructions via Ben Ward)