One feature that made a ton of difference to how you shared photos from within the Photos app on your iPhone was Photo Stream. It came about at a time when Facebook and Instagram where at the peak of their photo sharing features and Apple kind of made it really simple and easy for iOS users to share their photos with other iOS (and OS X) users.
I don’t really know about how popular Photo Stream grew but I can tell you – from the amount of user queries we’ve seen about Photo Stream – that people really like it and want to use it. Sure, a few people have had to pull the plug off the feature because there were just too many things going wrong with it.
Photo Stream is a cool idea and a cool feature. I wouldn’t call it a flawed execution at all because every feature that Apple brings in comes with its own set of problems: iCloud, FaceTime, iMessage, and of course, Photo Stream.Photo Stream, without exception, has a lot of problems like:
- Sometimes photos you added to a stream on your iPhone don’t sync and show up on the iPad.
- At times, Photo Stream doesn’t even recognize that you’ve taken photos (and so doesn’t add them to the stream library)
- Or at other times, Photo Stream just doesn’t work. Wifi issues notwithstanding, Photos aren’t added to your Mac/PC when you add them to the Photo Stream library on your iDevice.
1. 20% Battery Rule
One of the first things you’ll notice on FAQs on Apple (for Photo Stream) is this rule: you’ll need to have more than 20% battery for Photo Stream to work. This means… well you know what this means. Charge up your iPhone before you even think about Photo Stream. Make sure there’s enough battery and a good, solid Wi-fi network (or LTE, but Wi-fi is preferred always).
2. Read-only Permissions
Did you change the default folder for Photo Stream in Windows (via iCloud Control Panel)? Well, that’s going to be a problem.
If you changed the folder to someplace else, do this:
- Right click the Photo Stream folder
- Uncheck the Read-only permissions
- Click Apply
Read-only permissions can be a pain in the back especially in Windows. And since Apple uses an external service to modify the content of your Photo Stream, you’ll definitely need to make sure it’s not read-only.
3. Close Camera App
If you don’t close your camera app, you’re going to have a bad time with Photo Stream sync.
Photo Stream is made to work that way: it’s only when you close the camera that the photos automatically get synced to the Photo Stream and then finally to all your iDevices. No, this doesn’t mean you press the home button after using the camera and then you run to check the Photo Stream on your iPad.
It means you double-press the home button, tap and hold the Camera app and then hit the minus sign to really close the app. Whoosh! Your photos should be up there on the Photo Stream. Give it a few minutes and they should be on all connected devices.
4. Enable Photo Stream Under Settings, iCloud
Oh this is such a plain thing. But then, it’s probably not.
Photo Stream needs to be enabled at two (minimum) places in your iDevice.
- Go to Settings
- Tap on iCloud
- Scroll down and tap on Photo Stream
- Make sure it’s ON
- For good measure, enable Shared Photo Streams too
- Go to Settings
- Scroll down and tap on Photos & Camera
- Turn ON “My Photo Stream” if it isn’t already
- Turn on “Shared Photo Streams” too for good measure (believe me this is what actually triggered the Photo Stream for me although I do completely doubt the link between this and Photo Stream sync)
5. Reboot and Reconnect to WiFi
- The plain old method is to just reboot the phone.
- Or give it a hard reset (hold power+home for long till the Apple logo comes up)
- Also, disconnect from Wifi from devices where the Photo Stream isn’t synced and then re-connect. For a good measure, do the ‘forget network’ routine and re-add the network.
Alright and all done, buddy, but the whole thing still doesn’t work. What to do then?
Sometimes, you clicked a lot of photos and it takes a lot of time on your network to get all the photos synced to Photo Stream -> iCloud -> all your iDevices. Give it some time. You heard Louis C.K’s ‘Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy’ right? Be patient while the whole thing goes up there in space and then syncs your data.
Of course, restore is not an option if it’s just Photo Stream that ain’t working. I’ll give the “are you kidding me?” look if someone tells me I’ll have to restore my iPhone just because Photo Stream doesn’t work for a while. I’ll just do the ON-OFF toggle and then delete/create albums in Photo Stream till it resumes normal functioning than restore my iPhone.