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My Photo Stream

With the rollout of Photos for OS X and iCloud Photo Library, the My Photo Stream feature has gotten pushed out of the spotlight. If you’ve decided that iCloud Photo Library isn’t a good fit for you—or it was decided for you, if your library is too large, your network connection too slow, or your library includes referenced photos—My Photo Stream is still helpful for automatically transferring photos between devices. It also works for syncing photos to devices that share the same iCloud account but don’t have iCloud Photo Library turned on.

Set up My Photo Stream

Here’s the easy part. In Photos for OS X, open preferences, click the iCloud button, and then turn on My Photo Stream.

On an iOS device, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos and turn on My Photo Stream (4.9). After you do, a new My Photo Stream album shows up in the Albums view (4.10).

4.9

4.9 Enabling My Photo Stream

4.10

4.10 My Photo Stream appears as an album.

My Photo Stream limits

Unlike iCloud Photo Library, the My Photo Stream service does not count against your iCloud storage allotment—in fact, you can stick with the free 5 GB iCloud account and still use My Photo Stream. However, there are limitations to how much you can store. As its name suggests, it’s a stream of data that rushes by, not a pool where all your photos are stored indefinitely. So here’s the breakdown:

  • Photos in My Photo Stream are stored at iCloud for 30 days. Older photos are removed from the stream after 30 days.

  • On iOS devices, the last 1000 items are saved in the My Photo Stream album.

  • If you’d like to keep a photo on an iOS device before it’s deleted, move it to the Camera Roll by selecting the photo, tapping the Share button, and choosing Save Image.

  • Only photos are supported in My Photo Stream, not videos.

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