The Settings page says that Photos will automatically by sent to Photo Stream when I am connected to Wi-Fi, however I've waited several minutes and don't see them in iPhoto. I believe they haven't been sent to iCloud yet. Is there any way to force them to be synced to iCloud from the iPhone?

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    I'd bet good money the problem is with PhotoStream on your Mac pulling down updates from iCloud. Check PhotoStream on your iPhone: are they showing up there? I'm trying to find the question that deals with forcing iPhoto to resync your PhotoStream (the answer is not a happy one). – Ian C. Mar 27 '12 at 17:19
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    Yea, here you go: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/32899/… -- there's no way to force an update. I'm wondering if killing the PhotoStreamAgent process would work though? – Ian C. Mar 27 '12 at 17:21
  • a further symptom is that inside iPhone's Photos app one can see that new photos on the Camera Roll album can not be seen in the iPhone's Photo Stream either. – K.-Michael Aye Oct 6 '12 at 23:29
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    it seems that the iPhone won't start sending photos up to Photostream unless it's on wifi AND the phone has greater than 20% battery life. I noticed some of my photos starting syncing once I charged my phone beyond 20%. Apple seriously needs to give some feedback about why Photostream isn't syncing in their UI like Dropbox does. – Matthew Lock Dec 27 '12 at 9:37
  • Update: Murphy's law though the actual photos I really care about seem stuck in Photostream purgatory and won't appear on other devices. Perhaps this is why Steve Jobs was rumored to have offered Dropbox so much money to sell? – Matthew Lock Dec 27 '12 at 9:43

12 Answers 12


I had this very problem today. I had taken 40 or so photos on iPhone 4, iOS 5.1, and when I got back to WiFi connection, I waited more than an hour for the photos to appear in PhotoStream either on the iPhone or my iPad, and they didn't.

None of the following worked:

  • Switching the iPhone to Airplane mode and back
  • Killing the Camera and Photos apps
  • Turning off Photo Stream in the iCloud bit of the Settings app (this told me it would delete all PhotoStream photos on the iPhone, so I cancelled)

Eventually, after an hour or so, in desparation I forced the iPhone to power-down, and turned it back on.

Today's photos then started appearing straight away on the iPad. In the time it has taken me to type this, most of them have now arrived already.

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  • Unfortunately, even a reboot of the iPhone did not copy my Camera Roll photos to iPhone's Photo Stream. One possible explanation could be that Apple is currently working on their Photo Stream data base? – K.-Michael Aye Oct 6 '12 at 23:30
  • @K.-MichaelAye: Did you try my answer (currently below and marked 0)? It's much faster to try too! – Matthew Elvey Mar 12 '14 at 21:08
  • Well, I'm catching up! My answer is now in second place; it was close to last. – Matthew Elvey Nov 18 '18 at 3:34

Fastest solution (iPhone restart NOT needed!): I've found that if I open Photos on my iDevice after taking a photo, and then (after the spinning icon goes away) open Photos* on my Mac, the photo appears in my photo stream.


This is way easier and faster than rebooting or resetting Wi-Fi.

It's also faster and more likely to work than just killing Photos Agent and restarting Photos.

(Further evidence showing WHY this works: When I open Photos on my iDevice, I see the spinning icon on my iDevice - IFF I've just taken a photo. If I access my photo stream on my Mac‡ without having opened Photos, the new photo is not there.)

*(or iPhoto if you haven't switched to Photos)

‡(such as by clicking Photo Stream under Media in the standard File..Open dialog box in recent versions of MacOS)

Note: Photo Stream only syncs the last 30 days of your photos.

2020 UPDATE: Recently, Photos was changed; when you open it you may need to take an additional step to cause the upload - but if so, you’ll see a prompt about it.

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  • Also, I've found that only photos taken after [PhotoStream is set to On] will be transferred. Eg photoA exists on my phone, and the setting PhotoStream is off. If I turn PhotoStream on, then take photoB, then photoB will be transferred immediately, photoA is not, and must be transferred via normal sync. – ptim Aug 17 '14 at 2:02
  • Thanks! NEW!?: The ios photos app now has a weird “feature” : even when the battery isn’t low and Wi-Fi is available it doesn’t automatically upload photos! It does pop up a notification to let me know, and does start automatically when I plug in my phone. I would guess that most people prefer the old behavior. – Matthew Elvey Jan 3 at 20:52

Echoing this answer:

  1. Open up Activity Monitor
  2. Search for Photos Agent and quit it.
  3. Restart the Photos app.
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I found this post after having the same issue - needing to grab an image from Photo Stream that wasn't coming up.

I found that I had wandered outside my WiFi range, and had reverted to a 3G connection. Upon reconnecting to my WiFi, Photo Stream immediately updated (and I mean immediately :)

I checked this by opening my Photo Stream within the Photos app, and taking a screenshot. Within one second my phone started uploading the new image, and within 10 seconds it was live within my Photo Stream.

If you're having long delays check your WiFi connection - This may not be the only reason for a delay, but it helped me in my situation.

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In my case, it was nothing mentioned in the other answers. My problem was that I didn't have enough space.

screenshot memory

I don't quite understand why it needs space locally to upload something though.

More info in this forum thread.


Another realistic reason could be this:

screenshot wifi

So make sure you're connected to a wireless network.

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  • I found the answer to protection. Your associated bonus does not count. You needed to earn 10 rep here to answer a protected question. I think I fixed that with my vote up of this excellent answer. Thanks for pinging me - I learned something I didn't know too. It's covered in help center under What are protected questions? – bmike Apr 24 '15 at 14:19
  • Thanks for the follow-up explanation and the vote. And, I learned something new too. Also, I can't find What are protected questions? on the link you gave. – Iulian Onofrei Apr 24 '15 at 14:32
  • Search for "protected" - second paragraph in the description. Also, thanks so much for reaching out on this. – bmike Apr 24 '15 at 14:35
  • Oh, you meant Help Center > Privileges > Protect Questions. And, you're welcome. – Iulian Onofrei Apr 24 '15 at 14:43

I figured out if you turn off Photos and start again it starts working.

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Go to iCloud Preferences > Photo Stream. Uncheck "Enable Photo Stream", then click apply. Turn Photo Stream back on in preferences (check "Enable Photo Stream"). After a few seconds, iPhoto will start to download all the photos again. Depending on the number of photos, and your bandwidth, it may take awhile.

(Disable Shared Photo Streams on the SUBSCRIBER device, then enable again.)

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  • I couldn't disable Photo Stream as it asked me to confirm the deletion of all images.. – André Hoffmann Aug 8 '12 at 20:57
  • Massive overkill. – Matthew Elvey Oct 1 '13 at 0:39
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    @MatthewElvey Its only overkill if there is an alternative. – Toby Allen Dec 21 '13 at 12:24
  • @AndréHoffmann copy to another folder first. – Toby Allen Dec 21 '13 at 12:24
  • @TobyAllen There is an alternative! See my answer (currently below and marked 0)! That's why this answer is massive overkill. – Matthew Elvey Mar 12 '14 at 21:05

I've been searching this question too. I found that if you go to the iCloud control panel and uncheck the photo stream box. Hit Apply. Recheck the photo stream box. For me. hiting Apply again, my pc started to pull down the new photos right away.

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    It's not so much right away, when hundreds of photos of the stream have to first be downloaded again. – K.-Michael Aye Oct 6 '12 at 23:31

Nevermind, read this instead: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/48270/15253

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In a similar situation, just keeping the Photos app open on the iPhone caused photos to start syncing immediately for me. (iPhone4/iOS-5.1.1)

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    How do you even define 'immediately' when you said you just keep Photos app open? How long did you have to wait? Any physical answer renders 'immediately' to be incorrect. ;) – K.-Michael Aye Oct 6 '12 at 23:32
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    I don’t see what’s wrong with this answer. At least for iOS 6, I can confirm that if the Photos app on the iPhone is open, photos are synced to Photo Stream without delay. This is also indicated by the spinning network indicator in the menu bar. – myhd Oct 16 '12 at 8:47

Make sure Low Power Mode is turned off. It blocks all syncs of images.

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I was trying to load 1200 photos to my new phone, kept geting time out type message, i tried 200 and it loaded. 200 more over and over until they all loaded.

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    How exactly did you throttle a photo stream sync of 1200 photos so only 200 synced at a time? It sounds great, but it's not clear how to accomplish this task. – bmike Nov 12 '12 at 14:57

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