Use Photo Stream instead of emailing photos to yourself

If you have an iPhone or iPad and a Mac, and are sick of emailing photos to yourself for work, blog posts, or other uses, there are two much faster, simpler ways based on Apple’s Photo Stream.

Option 1

After you snap photos on your iOS devices and get those devices on WiFi for a short period, they’ll automatically sync all your photos up to iCloud. Connect your Mac to WiFi, run Apple’s iPhoto or Aperture (my personal favorite), and setup Photo Stream (either in the sidebar or preferences), and your photos are now automatically on your Mac.

Option 2

I’m picky about what goes into my main Photo Stream because I use it to share photos with family and friends on our Apple TV. I don’t want all the screenshots I take for writing or meme pics I save from the web in there, so I create a couple extra Photo Streams to organize those and keep them out of the main stream.

Adding photos to a custom Photo Stream is a lot faster than emailing them to yourself, and though your main Photo Stream is hardwired for WiFi, custom Photo Streams will sync even if you’re mobile. To create a custom Photo Stream:

  • On your iOS device, open the Photos app and tap the Photo Stream tab. You may have to tap it a second time to get to your list of Photo Streams
  • Tap the plus button in the upper left to create a new Photo Stream. Optionally you can share it with someone (I don’t), but name it something relevant like “Scrap” or “Scratchpad”. You can optionally also enable the public option which will give you a URL you can share with others. This is great for private group sharing or work environments so others can easily get your photos or screenshots

That’s it. Now you can select one or more photos, tap the Photo Stream sharing option, and add to your custom Photo Stream which forces an immediate sync, even on mobile. Fire up iPhoto or Aperture on your Mac and they’ll come back down.