I work on a 13" MacBook Pro and also have an iPad and iPhone 4s. I edited my Photo Stream photos down to a tight collection of 220 pictures and fully expected that to reflect on my iPhone and iPad, however, it simply is not the same. The iPad has more than 400 pictures in Photo Stream. I want to set the standard collection my MacBook Pro and have that reflect across all devices. Any suggestions on how to make that happen?

Running 10.8.2 on MacBook Pro and 6.0.1 on iOS devices.

  • What versions of OS are running on the Mac and the iOS device? I haven't observed what you report under Mountain Lion (10.8) or iOS 6.
    – bmike
    Dec 3, 2012 at 17:20
  • Updated the OS versions.
    – forrest
    Dec 4, 2012 at 0:40

2 Answers 2


As the Apple website reports, iCloud stores your pictures in Photo Stream for 30 days.

iCloud manages your Photo Stream efficiently so you don’t run out of storage space on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If you have Photo Stream enabled on your iOS device, every single photo you take appears in a special Photo Stream album that holds your last 1000 photos. You can delete any photos you don’t want from the Photo Stream (Photo Stream photos downloaded to an iOS device with iOS 5.0.1 or earlier must be deleted manually after updating to iOS 5.1 or later.). To touch up a photo or keep a favorite shot permanently, simply save it to your Camera Roll. iCloud stores new photos for 30 days, so you have plenty of time to connect your iOS device to Wi-Fi and make sure you always have your most recent shots handy.

After 30 days pictures are removed from iCloud but not from the Photo Stream album on your devices.

If you remove a picture stored in the Photo Stream album from one of your devices

  • Before 30 days, the picture will be removed from all your devices
  • After 30 days, the picture will be removed only from that device, because the picture is not anymore on iCloud.

You should also consider that pictures are removed from your Photo Stream albums on your devices when they reach the 1000th picture.

iCloud pushes all your photos to the My Photo Stream album on your devices and computers, and manages them efficiently, so you don’t run out of storage space.

Your iOS devices keep a rolling collection of your last 1000 photos in the My Photo Stream album. From there, you can browse your recent photos or move the ones you like to your Camera Roll or another album to keep them on your device forever.

Since your Mac and PC have more storage than your iOS devices, you can choose to have all of your My Photo Stream photos automatically downloaded. In iPhoto or Aperture preferences on your Mac, be sure to select Photo Stream > My Photo Stream > Automatic Import. All of your photo stream photos will be imported into your Events, Projects, Photos, Faces, and Places folders in iPhoto or Aperture. On your PC with Photo Stream enabled in the Control Panel, all of your photos will be imported into C:\Users\\Pictures\Photo Stream\My Photo Stream.

N.B.1 You can always reset you Photo Straem from www.icloud.com.

N.B.2 You should satisfy the following requirements

Deleting individual photos from Photo Stream is supported by iOS 5.1 or later, iPhoto 9.2.2 or later, Aperture 3.2.3 or later, and Apple TV Software Update 5.0 or later. You will need to manually delete photos you downloaded to iOS devices using iOS 5.0.1 or earlier after updating to iOS 5.1.

  • 1
    Very nice, very comprehensive answer - in practice the 30 day limit seems more like a policy / guarantee Apple won't delete your photos sooner than 31 days. For instance - my photo stream has 992 photos and there are more than a hundred photos from August still in the stream. I have been watching to see if/when the implementation of cleaning kicks in (as opposed to the written policy). So far I have only observed deletion when I exceed 1000 streamed photos. I have taken well over 3000 iOS photos since August and deleting from the middle of the stream works reliably for me (all iOS 6).
    – bmike
    Dec 3, 2012 at 17:16

There can be a slight lag for things to get cleaned up - but if a device hasn't updated it's cache after 24 hours, you can always turn off iCloud for that device and clean things manually.

You will want to look at the photo roll on that device as it also needs cleaning before you re-enable the Photo Stream on it or else you risk it injecting all the photos back into the stream. Also - I don't know if it helps, but I like to wait overnight (or as long as practical) before re-enabling that device to let the could servers see it as a new registration and not just someone accidentally turning off Photo Stream and back on.

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