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 Mar 23 '12 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 Mar 23 '12 at 1:36

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.

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  • 2
    if you want to use the command line, use mdfind instead: mdfind -onlyin ~/Library/Application\ Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub/ jpeg – Asmus Mar 23 '12 at 11:48
  • Interestingly, iPhoto gives 664 photos in my stream, this shared folder has 567, and my iphone quotes 524. Wat? – Peter Ehrlich Aug 21 '14 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 Oct 19 '14 at 5:09
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    This seems not to work anymore under El Capitan – Damon Nov 2 '15 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

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

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    If you're affiliated with that application, please disclose that affiliation - thanks. – Dan J May 29 '12 at 22:11

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