Cross posting this from SuperUser AND Photo.StackExchange since I have a bounty on it and have no replies yet, hopefully will get more attention here ;)

I'm finding my iPhone photo download workflow to be a bit cumbersome.

Here are my requirements:

  • Download photos+video off my iPhone Camera Roll, but keep photos on iPhone
  • Only display/download new photos+video on iPhone since last download
  • Avoid iPhoto, ideally, because it makes me a bit nervous
  • Have all my iPhone-taken photos+video available to view on my iPhone
  • Maintain all EXIF/GPS metadata at all costs

Currently, I use regular folder structure + Picasa for all of my digital photos, however for my iPhone, I use iPhoto because it will "only display new items" when I go to import photos off my iPhone

I'm finding that will 5000+ photos+videos on my iPhone, iPhoto generally takes a while (2-10 minutes) to 'find' my iPhone after I plug it in.

Ideally, I'd like to just use OSX's built in ImageCapture.app to download iPhone photos, but it loads/displays ALL the photos, not just the new ones since last sync (as iPhoto does..). I then have to know which was the last downloaded iPhone photo and download only the newer ones.

Picasa Import also loads/displays ALL photos on the iPhone (which is very cumbersome with so many images to load off the device...)

I guess I'd like to know if anyone has a similar workflow/requirements and how they do it.

My current plan is to set up a workflow that removes photos from the Camera Roll as I download them, but then have iTunes sync them back on as albums based on folders - I may even automatically resize them so I have smaller versions on the iPhone and the original full size versions on my Mac (so conserve previous iPhone storage space) [UPDATE: iTunes automatically does this, which is too bad because it means I no longer have FULL SIZE backups on my phone, only on my computer...]

2 Answers 2


What you’re asking is a hell of automation and it can’t be done “just” like that.

I suggest you try to make a combination of Automator and Smart Albums on iPhoto. Things you want to know about iTunes: EXIF is not preserved when Synced to iPhone through iTunes which is part of your requirements.

You could use a Smart Album in iPhoto and Flag the pictures you want to transfer then create another Smart Album with those flagged pictures and only transfer those (or vice versa). Use Keywords to your advantage. Consider a nice app like Keyword Manager for iPhoto to help you with that.

I have no idea why iPhoto makes you nervous, but you should be pointing at iTunes for that…

iPhoto is perfectly suitable for picture maintenance and sorting. You can later use automator to resize them and do fancy things (even tagging!). The same can be said about Aperture.

Your workflow should be, download to iPhoto automatically. Classify, Tag, Delete Bad ones, Adjust, Edit, and transfer to your devices for later viewing (and backup). If you just want to have a backup up of what you do, let Time Machine do it’s work with your iPhoto Library or add another step, use Image Import (or Cameras) to organize, then add to iPhoto for treatment and later transfer to your device(s). The original imported folder will be untouched and, eventually backed up by Time Machine too.


why don't you use Automator to do the workflow you pretend?

Automator is very powerfull and you can find much more Actions on Apple website that you can complete your workflow.

The Automator Comunnity is also amazing and posting your questions there you will get an answer quickly!

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