My Photo Stream1 is shutting down on July 26, 2023. Learn more about this transition and how to keep your photos up to date across all your devices and safely stored in iCloud.
As part of this transition, new photo uploads to My Photo Stream from your devices will stop one month before, on June 26, 2023. Any photos uploaded to the service before that date will remain in iCloud for 30 days from the date of upload and will be available to any of your devices where My Photo Stream is currently enabled. By July 26, 2023, there will be no photos remaining in iCloud, and the service will be shut down.
The photos in My Photo Stream are already stored on at least one of your devices, so as long as you have the device with your originals, you won’t lose any photos as part of this process. If a photo you want isn’t already in your library on a particular iPhone, iPad, or Mac, make sure that you save it to your library on that device.
Photo Stream is one of the original components of iCloud, and was kept around even after iCloud Photo Library launched in 2014. Here’s how Apple pitched the feature when iCloud was new:
Take a photo on an iOS device. Or import a photo from your digital camera to your computer. iCloud automatically pushes a copy of that photo over any available Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection to the Photos app on your iOS devices, iPhoto or Aperture on your Mac, and the Pictures Library on your PC. You can even view your Photo Stream album on your Apple TV. So you can show off your shots to friends and family from whichever device you’re using at the time.
iCloud manages your Photo Stream efficiently so you don’t run out of storage space on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If you have Photo Stream enabled on your iOS device, every single photo you take appears in a special Photo Stream album that holds your last 1,000 photos. You can’t edit or delete photos from your Photo Stream. If you want to touch up a photo or keep a favorite shot permanently, simply save it to your Camera Roll. iCloud stores new photos for 30 days, so you have plenty of time to connect your iOS device to Wi-Fi and make sure you always have your most recent shots handy.
The basic idea was that your last 1,000 photos streamed by on your iOS devices, but could saved permanently. If you had a Mac or PC in the mix, they were all saved there:
Keeping a complete set of your photos on your Mac is as simple as turning on Photo Stream in iPhoto or Aperture. Every new photo you take appears in a Photo Stream album just as it does on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. But since your Mac has more storage than your iOS device, it automatically imports every picture from your Photo Stream into your photo library so you can edit, delete, and share the ones you want.
Photo Stream — just like that press image above — was very much of its time. The limitations that it came with were confusing for some users, leading to folks worrying that they would accidentally lose photos.
Honestly, I didn’t blame anyone back then for being a bit wary of the feature. It was about this time that I turned to Dropbox for my photo storage, only returning to Apple well into the iCloud Photo Library era.
- Best I can tell, Apple never called it “My Photo Stream” when the feature was new. I don’t know when the “My” was added. It’s possible Apple appended it just for this announcement. ↩