I'm syncing some local folders so they appear as albums "From my Mac" in my iPhone Photos app. It works, but the ordering is wrong.

The files in the local folders are actually symlinks into nested folders on a backup drive (actually a Photos.app library) so the paths are mapped like this example:


Note that I am syncing folders not albums, and this is for good reason. Syncing albums is broken for photo libraries on network drives.

The photos import no problem, but the order is weird. I can't align it with any ordering I can replicate in the finder. They are roughly time ordered based on the EXIF "Date Time Original" tag, but not quite.

On the iPhone clicking a photo shows the correct date from the EXIF data, but this is seemingly not being used for ordering. Neither is the file name.

The created, modified and access timestamps on the original photos are all the same, so this doesn't seem the principle ordering value either.

How does the iPhone sync process determine the order these appear in the album? What can I do to ensure correct time ordering?

2 Answers 2


Photos for iOS will sort your photos in order on EXIF date in the main Library tab.

If you are creating albums in the syncing process and they are not in order, open the album and click the three dots in the upper right hand corner. From this menu, choose "Sort" and select the sorting criteria you prefer.

  • I think that the photos are sorted by the time the photo was taken, as expressed by metadata within the photo file itself. But, don't quote me on that. Oct 14, 2021 at 14:42
  • @MikeRobinson That's what I meant by "EXIF date" - that's the time the photo was taken.
    – Ezekiel
    Oct 14, 2021 at 14:42
  • There is no "sort" option for albums synced from Mac. This only appears only for albums curated within the iOS Photos app from the device itself.
    – Tim
    Oct 14, 2021 at 15:38
  • The sorting order for these same photos under the Library is correct, as you say, according to the EXIF data. It is only the synced albums that are weirdly off. I can only assume it is the original order the files are iterated over during sync, but I can't work out what the criteria is.
    – Tim
    Oct 14, 2021 at 15:40
  • Ah, I see. You may be out of luck unfortunately.
    – Ezekiel
    Oct 14, 2021 at 15:47

What it will be I imagine is they are being put in order of import position. So if a larger picture gets overtaken by a couple of smaller ones in terms of completing its import, them that's the position it is placed in the album.

I've had similar issues and that's what it boiled down to. I think I know how to fix it, but it is going to be a very time consuming exercise but doing very small batch imports.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Nov 3, 2023 at 16:25
  • It's a bit difficult to cite a phone call with apple support for reference. Nov 3, 2023 at 16:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .