I'm really confused with these two features: iTunes Photo Sync and Photos App (on macOS).

I just want to keep my photos synced between my iPhone and MacBook. So if it is possible, every time I connect my phone via USB (or over WiFi) newest photos get copied from iPhone to mac and vise-versa.

What can I do? How to keep photos synced without uploading them to Apple servers? (aka iCould Photo Library)

I use Import feature of Photos app on macOS, it copied all photos from iPhone. But some minutes later, iTunes copied all downloaded photos from my mac to iPhone again! So I had duplicated photos on iPhone.

Note that I'm using macOS 10.12.6 and iOS 11.

  • Since import is the opposite of sync, you might be out of luck if you don’t manually clean up post import - but can you list the version of macOS and iOS you hope to run in this scenario? Several years back sync was viable but I’ve been all in on iCloud and wouldn’t have noticed if or when this function was possibly removed.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 10:29
  • Perfect. If you edit that into the body, people will see your question bumped as an active edit. They might miss it in the comments.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 11:13

1 Answer 1


To solve the issue with Photos.app and duplicate photos appearing on your iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB cable
  2. Open Photos.app
  3. Select 'Delete items'

This will delete your photos after they've been imported in Photos.app. This will prevent any duplicate photos from appearing in Photos.app on your iPhone. delete photos in Photos.app

On you Mac you can set up Image Capture.app so it a) copies all images/videos on your iPhone and b) deletes all images/videos afterwards. The following instructions work without Photos.app.

Step 1.

Make sure to disable Settings > Photos > iCloud Photo Library. This will make your iPhone appear as a 'Camera' so Image Capture.app is able to copy/delete media in your iPhone.

Step 2

To sync your photos in iTunes specify the folder your iPhone's media gets copied to.

  • Does photos do the library sync or does iTunes do the sync back in this scenario? You are on the right track to either be all off for iCloud managing the library or all in on that.
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 11:14

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