Apple Is Shutting Down My Photo Stream—Switch to iCloud Photos

Apple has quietly announced that it is shutting down the My Photo Stream service, the company’s first iCloud-based effort at helping users sync photos between devices. My Photo Stream had numerous limitations and got messy but was free and didn’t count against iCloud storage quotas. If you’re still using My Photo Stream, your photos will remain on your devices, but they will stop uploading as of June 26, and all My Photo Stream photos will be removed from iCloud on July 26. Apple is encouraging all remaining My Photo Stream users to switch to iCloud Photos, which is more capable in every way but might require you to pay for additional iCloud+ storage to hold your photo library.

If you receive an email about this telling you that you are using My Photo Stream, it’s likely not a big concern. As I said above, when it gets turned off nothing will be deleted from your devices. All that will happen is that it will stop automatically copying new photos to your other devices unless you are using iCloud Photos.

Honestly, I recommend iCloud Photo Library for nearly everyone who is fully within the Apple ecosystem. It’s one of those things that you set up and forget that it’s even there because it’s so seamless. You don’t have to transfer photos. You don’t have to worry about what photos are where. Every Apple device simply has the same exact library.

If you also use Android or other non-Apple devices, it may be worth considering another photo syncing service such as Google Photos, Amazon Photos, Dropbox, or OneDrive.

So what is the difference between My Photo Stream and iCloud Photos?

Photo StreamiCloud Photos
Monthly CostFree$0 for 5 GB
$0.99 for 50 GB
$2.99 for 200 GB
$9.99 for 1 TB
(as a basic guide, 1 GB holds about 700 photos)
Photo Limit1,000 photosAs much as will fit in your storage
Time Limit30 days, after which images are removed from Photo Stream but remain on devicesAs long as you continue to pay for storage
Photo QualityFull quality is only on Mac/PC. Other devices receive a reduced-quality versionFull
Supports video, bursts, Live Photos🚫
Family Sharing🚫
Synced Edits🚫
Synced Deletions🚫
ProsFreeOne photo library that is identical on every device.
ConsIf you took a photo but wanted to delete it, you have to delete it from every device.Cost

Contact me if you need assistance migrating to iCloud Photos or ensuring all your various photos are backed up securely.

(Featured image by Dall-E)

Further Help

If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.

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