On Windows, Photo Stream works in a way that all the files are automatically copied to your 'My Pictures' folder or the like.

I currently have Photo Stream working in Aperture, but every once in a while I think it would be nice to have direct access to Photo Stream in the Finder, so I could possibly script something (i.e., copy photos to Dropbox, add automatically Evernote, etc).

Is there a way that I can reach this, outside of iPhoto or Aperture on the Mac? And do one of these apps have to 'trigger' a sync from iCloud? Or is Photo Stream syncing automatically somewhere on the file system?

This could be a direct path, a smart folder, etc.

  • This sounds similar to this related question about where PhotoStream saves its files. However, none of the answers there mentioned a specific folder.
    – Senseful
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 1:31
  • Its close, but I am looking for the direct folder. And the answers are all talking about the devices, im talking about the Mac OS
    – jmlumpkin
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 1:36

3 Answers 3


After doing some research, I finally found where they were located, and then figured a quick way to get back to them.

The files themselves are stored in hashed folders under ~/Library/Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub.

I then created a Smart Folder using this path, and then selecting Kind as "Image". This then provides me with a directory with just the images in Photo Stream, outside of their folders.

Smart Folder

I also verified that this was working on a machine where iPhoto didn't have Photo Stream enabled itself, the only Photo Stream part was enabled in System Preferences. Therefore, it was syncing on its own, and not with a relation to iPhoto having to launch to trigger it.

You can't cd into a smart folder, but it looks like I can use some actions with it it. I moreso wanted a direct folder, so I could copy stuff out quickly.

  • 2
    if you want to use the command line, use mdfind instead: mdfind -onlyin ~/Library/Application\ Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub/ jpeg
    – Asmus
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 11:48
  • Interestingly, iPhoto gives 664 photos in my stream, this shared folder has 567, and my iphone quotes 524. Wat? Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 19:22
  • Any way that you're aware of to extract images from a certain Shared Photo Stream? I'd like to find a way to pull out only photos from a certain photostream.
    – bobmagoo
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 5:09
  • 2
    This seems not to work anymore under El Capitan
    – Damon
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 2:17

In short, no.

Aperture's Photo Stream album is accessible in the Finder at ~/Pictures/Aperture Library.aplibrary/Database/Albums/, but good luck viewing it without using Aperture.

enter image description here


You can use my PhotoStream2Folder application to exploit this folder and store the images where you want on your drive.

  • 3
    If you're affiliated with that application, please disclose that affiliation - thanks.
    – Dan J
    Commented May 29, 2012 at 22:11

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