Here's my scenario: I have around 60Gig of photos on my desktop Mac. That mac is backed up regularly and I consider it safe for my photos. However I would like to be able to use my iPad to decide which photos to keep, to favorite, or delete.

I could use Apple's iCloud Photos but I have two problems:

  1. I don't want to pay for space that I already have at home
  2. I want to know for sure that all my masters are in my possession

I can sync my iPad with the desktop, asking for all photos, collections, etc to be synced. Now my iPad has all of them. But if I delete one on my iPad it won't delete it on my deskop. I'm not even sure that if I favorite it on my iPad that it will be favorited on my desktop.

Is there a way to get this done without giving Apple control over all my photos?

2 Answers 2


Use iCloud Photos. It's really nice having a single shared iCloud Photos Library between your Mac and iOS devices.

Once you're using iCloud Photos, any favorites / edits / deletes that you make on your iPad will be synced to your Mac.

I don't want to pay for space that I already have at home

You're paying for it, but consider Apple's iCloud as another offsite backup, of which you can never have enough. Consider the cost of the subscription similar to the cost of another backup HDD at home. And it's a better backup for the photos stored on your iOS devices.

I want to know for sure that all my masters are in my possession

There is a Download Originals to this Mac setting in Photos for the Mac that allows you to keep all original photos on the Mac (as opposed to downloading them on demand from the Cloud / optimizing storage).

Using this setting should keep your current Mac / backup setup roughly the same. Local backups of your computer will continue to back up ALL of your photos.

Download Originals to this Mac

The originals will still be stored and backed up on your Mac.

  • 2
    This is exactly my setup and I’m happy to report my masters have always been mine on my MacPro and no matter what iCloud does, I always have gotten every photo I took of many iPads, many iPhones and can always turn off iCloud and wipe it and walk away from the storage cost at any time. I’m just about to hit 180 GB of library size and no issues with 5 to 10 devices syncing.
    – bmike
    Nov 2, 2019 at 14:26

Create a share folder containing the photos by going into settings > share > file sharing. This will then give you an address like afp:// or whichever host name your iPad has on your local network. Launch iOS “files” app And use “connect to server” feature (by clicking on the “...” in the top right hand corner and enter the URL info.

  • Promising idea! But I won’t be able to access the photos through the photos app, right?
    – pitosalas
    Oct 9, 2019 at 10:26
  • You can’t delete synced photos using the photos app on your mobile device unless you jailbreak and install a tweak from cydia. If you want to edit, delete and organize the photos on your device using the photos app, download a photos app that allows you to import photos to camera role. Use iTunes to dump the photos into the alternative photos app, then import the folder to your camera role ( this will temporarily duplicate the photos and require twice as much space). Then delete the photos from the alt app and edit from the photos app.
    – Theologin
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:15
  • iOS Files app isn’t a bad way to go to dig through and edit photos that are in a folder, not in a photos library... you can even save the photos to your camera roll in bulk.
    – Theologin
    Oct 9, 2019 at 12:17
  • Please be aware afp shares (such as afp://lan-services.local - a working share here at home) does not work in iOS 13.3.1 only SMB 2.0 or above (Windows style) shares can be linked now. It looks like AFP is slowly being deprecated. See step 4 in ‘Do more with files’ on support.apple.com/en-us/HT206481
    – user370793
    Apr 12, 2020 at 0:57

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