To Photo Sync or not to Photo Sync? We go hands on with Facebook’s new auto uploading photo feature

facebook iphone photo sync

After months of testing, Facebook finally launched its photo syncing feature for both iOS and Android devices. The new product is a convenient option for users to store all of their images in what’s essentially free storage space of up to 2GB courtesy of Facebook  and push them public when you so choose – of course there’s that pesky privacy thing, and users are right to maintain a little concern about something that directly sends data to the social network. Does Photo Sync’s benefits outweigh the risk of unwittingly uploading photos you’d rather keep to yourself? We go hands on with the new feature and break down the pros, the cons, and everything in-between. 

Getting Photo Sync up and running

If you haven’t already enabled Photo Sync, you should see a notification that pops up on the News Feed of your iOS or Android device asking if you’d like to sync your phone to the desktop app. Don’t worry about any downloads from the App Store, no need to head there for Photo Sync. Facebook says that the feature was already a part of the build in a previous update, but it was simply just turned off.

To turn it on, you’ll need to go to your Facebook profile page on the smartphone app, and select “Photos.” At the very bottom of the screen you’ll see a button for “Synced.” That tab will take you to a splash page briefly introducing you to Photo Sync. Opt into the feature by clicking on the “Sync Photos” button. Once this is done, if you open up the Facebook desktop app and go into your photos, you’ll see a new tab labeled “Sync for iPhone,” and here you’ll find the photos that have been synced.

Photo Sync on smartphones

facebook photo sync iphone

At first, not all of your photos will be immediately synced (keep in mind we’re testing this feature on an iPhone). Fewer than two dozen of your most recent images will be automatically synced, and to allow Facebook to sync the rest of your images you’ll need to scroll down and opt in again by pressing the “Sync all Photos” button.

Syncing won’t immediately happen when first turn the function on. In this initial hands on, it probably took around 45 minutes to sync 300 photos. But once this is over, all photos taken are automatically uploaded from then on until you disable the feature.

You also can’t actually share photos within the Synced page on the smartphone app. The page is just a repository for reviewing the photos that you’ve synced, although you can delete photos here if you wish. If you want to share these images directly from your smartphone, you’ll need to access Facebook’s in-app camera.

And if you’re worried, no it won’t delete the photos on your phone’s native camera app. Instead of manually deleted photos though, we found a hidden trick for removing them from the Synced page: You can hold down your finger on the photo that you’d like to delete between two and three seconds (the latter to be safer just so you don’t end up opening up the image instead), and a window slides up with an option to “Remove Synced Photo.”

Photo Sync on the desktop

facebook photo sync desktop

This is where all the magic happens. As mentioned before, you can use Facebook’s native and now built in Camera app to share your photos, group them into albums, and even adding flair using Facebook’s photo filters, but there’s a certain comfort in managing photos from the desktop as well. It’s really not uncommon for your fingers to accidentally open up different types of links on your smartphone, which could mean the difference between sharing a photo of your dog or a photo of … something else that you don’t want your Facebook friends seeing. That’s probably the nicest way to phrase it. 

When you select one or more images on the “Synced from iPhone” tab – each photo you select is marked by a green checkmark – buttons will appear for creating a post with the photos that you’ve selected, sending the photos in a message, creating a new album with them, or to add selected images to an existing album. Deleting images can also be done here, which will become a familiar tool for those of you that are already reaching the 2GB limit.

facebook photo sync desktopSince every action taken on the smartphone version of the app is synchronized with the desktop app, every photo that finished syncing from your phone will trigger a desktop notification, along with a number of photos pushed. What this also means is that if you’ve deleted a synced photo from your smartphone, that photo will be deleted from your iPhone gallery as well.

Some other smaller features that you might overlook is that the photos are displayed by month, and the bottom right corner of the page shows the percentage of free space that you’ve used of the 2GB. Downloads of the images are also supported via the desktop version of Photo Sync.


facebook photo sync settings

This feature is an important one to take note of. On the smartphone app, there’s a gear icon at the top right corner of the Synced page where you can select one of three options: “Sync over Wi-Fi or cellular,” “Sync over Wi-Fi only,” or “Don’t sync my photos.” You’ll want to specify which setting you want since by default you’re syncing over Wi-Fi or cellular. You can also keep track of how much storage you’re using up here.

Sync Photos makes sharing seamless … Instagram integration on the way?

After toying around with Photo Sync on Facebook, the initial impression is that it’s a bit slow and manually refreshing the iPhone and desktop versions to see the latest images gets old. We also encountered a bug that wouldn’t allow us to delete something; a prompt reading “Could not remove photo from Sync,” kept popping up on the iPhone – which could be a bit horrifying. However we saw that the photo was deleted when viewing via desktop. 

Overall, Sync Photos could easily be a Facebook Photo addicts dream come true. The sharing process is seamless and takes just three steps from selecting photos to publishing it on your Timeline. There’s also an opportunity here for Instagram integration as well, given how Facebook is trying to tie these so tightly together – although, the privacy implication there is that the security and relative exclusivity of sharing photos via Instagram would come into question. We reached out to Facebook for comment on this and we’ll update if we hear a response. 

For now, go forth and use Photo Sync – as long as you’re comfortable with Facebook’s ability to keep those auto uploads private until you say otherwise. 


Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?

How to sync and troubleshoot your PS4's DualShock 4 controllers

Sony's Bluetooth-enabled DualShock 4 controllers for PlayStation 4 are some of the best on the market, but connection issues aren't unheard of. Here's how to sync them to your console.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories on iOS, Android, and desktop

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL will be coming to the U.S. with T-Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

Intel gives up on 5G modems for smartphones, will focus on other devices

After a delay that saw Intel's manufacture of 5G modems pushed back to 2020, Intel has given up on the 5G modem business, and will focus its efforts elsewhere. But is something else to blame?

Keep your new iPad (2018) sparkling with the best screen protectors

Your iPad sports a stunning 9.7-inch screen and you'll want it to stay that way. The best iPad (2018) screen protectors guard against cracks, scratches, and even smudging from your fingers. Check out our top picks here.

The black satin Razer Phone 2 is now available for $500

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.

The best LG G7 ThinQ cases will keep your phone looking new

The LG G7 ThinQ comes with a powerful processor, versatile cameras, and amazing sound. But a powerful phone still needs protection and you might want to change the style. Here are the best LG G7 ThinQ cases.

Multiple phone leaks show May 21 is going to be a big day for Honor

Honor will launch at least one new smartphone on May 21, at an event taking place in London. Leaks have indicated the Honor 20 will take center stage, with a Lite version, and perhaps even another model also showing up on the day.

Breaking news: Samsung responds to reported Galaxy Fold display issues

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.

The Avalon V is Alcatel’s first Verizon-exclusive smartphone

Alcatel is has announced a new phone, the Avalon V -- but this budget device isn't what makes the announcement special. It's Alcatel's first phone on the Verizon network, and it's available now.

Big, beautiful, and breakable: Check out the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases

There’s no denying Samsung’s ability to turn out an attractive smartphone, but glass curves are expensive to fix and metal chips easily. We've rounded up the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases on the market.