I bought a new iPad and I want to download all my photos from Photo Stream there. How do I do that?

Currently, it only syncs newly taken photos, but not all those taken in the past which are available in Photo Stream through my other devices.

  • older devices are seeing the new photos? And they are all using the same iCloud account?
    – jmlumpkin
    Mar 24, 2012 at 18:46
  • I bet the OS answer is the key. I'm betting that the photostream photos that have gone from my iPhone to my iPad are the ones since upgrading to iOS6; that is to say a very small proportion, but certainly ones from before I owned the iPad.
    – user36678
    Dec 15, 2012 at 0:08

5 Answers 5


Photostream isn't really a synchronise mechanism, it's a push mechanism.

When you take a new photo on any iCloud enabled device with Photostream turned on, it will inform whatever gubbins sits in the cloud which then accepts an upload of that photo, and pushes it out to other devices which are also registered.

As such it can never cater for pictures that were taken before the device was registered to use the service. It has no way of performing the checking to see if you already have the photo, or options to perform what would effectively be 2 way sync at all, it has precisely no knowledge of your previous photos, and will merely start throwing down photos that are new after being registered to receive the updates.

So, in short, you can't. To give you an analogy, it's like iMessages. When you register a new device to receive messages, it picks up from that point onwards, and doesn't catch up on your previous history of messages.

  • This isn't entirely true. I have photos on my new iPad that were in PhotoStream before I had the device.
    – jmlumpkin
    Mar 24, 2012 at 19:32
  • I am always happy to learn new stuff, my answer is merely as I understand it, and I have been wrong before. I think there is probably some flexibility on recent pictures, but I believe it to remain true when considering the entirety of up to 1000 pictures.
    – stuffe
    Mar 24, 2012 at 19:45
  • If I can't do it with Photo Stream, how can I do it? I want all those photos moved into my new iPad.
    – Sonny
    Mar 24, 2012 at 19:48
  • @stuffe sorry if that came across the wrong way. I think its in relation to the 1000, but I know in my case thats not it either. I think a lot of it depends on which iOS the photo was taken
    – jmlumpkin
    Mar 24, 2012 at 19:50
  • @sonny that depends on how else you sync the iPad - if you have a Mac and iPhoto then that's easy, you create an album of the missing photostream pics and sync that via iTunes. If you don't have a Mac, it's more difficult...
    – stuffe
    Mar 24, 2012 at 19:52

Unfortunately, PhotoStream does not always add photos taken before it was enabled.

A few ways around this would be to:

  • Copy the images into iPhoto or Aperture (I have only tried in Aperture), and add them to PhotoStream
  • Open the photo and take a screen shot of the picture, which would then add it to PhotoStream. (although, this would majorly reduce the resolution and probably not the best idea).
  • Undeleted my previous answer to help answer the comment made below on how to get these photos into photostream
    – jmlumpkin
    Mar 24, 2012 at 19:52

On your PC, simply copy your photo stream photos across to your 'upload' folder in My Pictures and they will all resync with your devices.


Just wanted to add my solution to the mix. I had the same problem, I upgraded my iPad from 16gb generation 3 to 32gb generation 4. I had nearly 800 photos on the iPad Photostream and when I had finished setting up the new one I had 27 recent photos on the gen 4 iPad... What to do?

I opened Aperture (Mac) and clicked on Photostream and all the photos were still there, so that was good news. I then created a New Project in Aperture and named it "Temporary". Then clicked on Photostream again and selected Edit>Select All. Then I dragged and dropped the whole 800 photos into the new Temporary Project. I checked Photostream and Temporary and the photos were all there in both places. Then I clicked on Temporary to reveal the photos and clicked Edit>Select All Then I dragged and dropped the whole lot back to Photostream. It didn't duplicate the photos, it seemed to recognise they were all there. Then I went back to the new iPad and opened Photostream and lo and behold it was populating it with the 800 photos. It took a while to complete but they are now all there.

I can only assume that the copying back to Photostream fooled it into thinking they were all new photos, which is exactly what I thought might happen.

Finally I went back to Aperture and deleted the Temporary Project to clean things up.

Problem solved, just takes a little time.


I have this problem and being a simple soul I have e mailed my photos to myself a few at a time from my old iPad opened the e Mail on the new ipad and then saved the images - they turn up on camera roll and photo stream on my new iPad. Not good if you have thousands I guess but better than losing your favourites.

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