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Mastering iOS Photo Management (Screencast Tutorial)

This iOS Photo Management tutorial is just one of the lessons from our upcoming course on mobile photography.

Regardless of if you use your iPhone exclusively for all your photography and editing, or if you have a separate camera and you want to begin editing your photos on an iPad, this course has a ton of helpful information for you to really master iOS Photo Management.

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Transform your photos and edits from average to awesome with our in-depth, mobile photography course. It’s jam-packed with training, ideas, and lessons that can literally transform your photography overnight.

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iOS photo management has come a long way since the early days of the platform.

Apple’s native photo tools give you virtually everything you need to organize, edit, and share your images with friends and family. If you’re already aware of how iOS works, this stuff may seem basic, but it’s important to cover these basics, especially since some of the core approaches to syncing have changed over the years.

iCloud Photo Library

To get the most out of your photos on iOS, we recommend that you enable and use something called iCloud Photo Library. If you’re used to managing photos on your computer, the main difference is that with iCloud Photo Library, your photos natively live in a unified place that’s stored in the cloud, with an option to keep a local copy too.

Being cloud-based is what allows iCloud Photo Library to keep your images and edits in sync across multiple iOS devices, your Mac, and the web β€” all while intelligently managing space so you never run out of room on your devices.

iCloud Photo Library versus Photo Stream

If you’re thinking, β€œHasn’t Apple had this feature for a while?” The answer is yes β€” sort of. For a while, before iCloud Photo Library, iOS had a feature called Photo Stream. In fact, you can still enable Photo Stream in the settings, though I don’t recommend it.

While the basic principle is the same β€” keep your photos in sync across your devices β€” Photo Stream has some important limitations. For one thing, instead of syncing everything, it only syncs the last 30 days worth of images. And it only syncs images, no videos. There’s also no web interface for Photo Stream.

iCloud Photo Library addresses all of these limitations, giving you unlimited access to your entire library of images, videos, live photos, no matter what device you’re using.

iCloud Photo Storage

Of course, the other difference is that Photo Stream is free, while iCloud Photo Library usage counts against your iCloud storage, which we only get a measly 5 gigabytes of for free.

Thankfully, Apple has very competitive rates for additional storage, and paying to protect my visual memories is something I’m more than willing to do. iCloud Photo Library manages the storage of your images.

The Photos App

Whether or not you use iCloud Photo Library, you’ll always access your images from the Apple Photos app. In iOS 12, this app is divided into four tabs:

1: Photos

“Photos” is a unified view of all your images organized by date and place. It’s the evolution of the camera roll, but you can still see the original flat chronological view of all photos by looking at the default “All Photos” album if you prefer that.

Here in the Photos tab though, you can tap each event to see more photos from that place, and it recognizes people who were there plus Moments, which are automatically generated video highlight reels you can tweak to your liking.

Tapping a single photo opens it into a larger view, showing you the option to share, favorite, and delete. Favoriting a photo adds it to an automatically created album for quick access. Deleting a photo sends it to a special trash album where photos can be recovered for up to 30 days after deletion, in case you make a mistake.

In the top right, there’s also an Edit button, which allows you to use Apple’s own native editing tools to make adjustments to your images. Because of the way iCloud Photo Library saves things, any edits you make here can be instantly reverted, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Similarly, if you make an edit using a third-party editing extension, those too can be reverted.

2: For You

The “For You” tab includes all of your automatically generated memories, as well as a selection of algorithmically chosen featured photos, sharing suggestions, and activity from your shared albums.

3: Albums

The next tab over is where all of these albums live. You can create your own albums to help you organize photos for easier access, or as a means to share them with others. Shared albums can optionally allow participants to upload their own images and comment on photos.

As of iOS 12, iOS will also prompt you to share images with people, but this doesn’t use the same mechanism. Instead, it creates an expiring link that allows your recipient to download a copy of the images to their own library while prompting them to share back any shots they have from the same event.

iCloud Photo Library also supports Smart Albums that can use various criteria to intelligently filter photos, but these can only be created and viewed on macOS for now.

4: Search

The final tab is Search. Apple has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make this search smarter. It can now recognize the content of photos across a number of categories, and it provides surprisingly accurate results without you having to manually tag or otherwise label and organize your shots. For example, if I want to remember the name of a wine I recently had and enjoyed, I can just search “wine” to get the relevant photos.

Another feature that Apple has improved for iOS 12 is the process of importing new photos. Of course, any photos you take on your iOS devices are automatically added to your iCloud Photo Library, but you can also import photos from your camera. If you also own a Mac, you can do this by dragging the files into Apple Photos there. But you can also import directly to an iOS device using a dongle like the Lightning to SD card adapter.


Get Our Best Photography Tips & Workflows

Transform your photos and edits from average to awesome with our in-depth, mobile photography course. It’s jam-packed with training, ideas, and lessons that can literally transform your photography overnight.

Yes! Find Out More »