Apple will permanently delete an entire photo album from your iPhone next month, but thankfully there’s an easy way to save the contents from being lost forever. The tech giant has announced it’s retiring My Photo Stream, an album that automatically stores your snaps from the last 30 days.
As part of the shutdown, My Photo Stream stopped uploading snaps on June 26 and everything in it will be lost when the album gets deleted on July 26. If you’re an iPhone user, you’re urged to go on My Photo Stream – which is accessible through the Photos app – and save the contents to your device.
My Photo Stream has offered free storage for over a decade and is an alternative to iCloud Photos, which just got more expensive in the UK and other countries.
‘My Photo Stream is scheduled to be shut down on July 26, 2023,’ Apple explains on its online support page. As part of this transition, new photo uploads to My Photo Stream from your devices will stop one month before, on June 26, 2023. If a photo you want isn’t already in your library on a particular iPhone, iPad, or Mac, make sure that you save it to your library on that device.’
Introduced by Steve Jobs in 2011, My Photo Stream is a free service that automatically uploads up to 1,000 photos from the last 30 days. For more than a decade it has let users access photos across several Apple devices – so if they’ve taken a photo on one device, such as their iPhone, they’ve been able to find and download it on another, such as an iPad or Mac.
If you pay for iCloud+ and always have substantial storage space for your photos, Apple’s new decision shouldn’t be too much to worry about. However, if you’re using the free version of iCloud and always seem to run out of space for new photos, you’re more likely to be affected.
To access My Photo Stream and save the contents, go to the Photos app on your iPhone or your iPad and then tap Albums at the bottom. My Photo Stream will appear as one of the albums, amongst Recents, WhatsApp, Instagram and others.
Tap the My Photo Stream album, followed by Select in the top right corner of the screen. Next, tap to select all the images you want to keep and then Share (a square with an upwards arrow coming out the top) before pressing Save Image to save these photos to your device.
As Apple explains on its support page, this process is slightly different if you’re saving the contents of My Photo Stream to a Mac computer. My Photo Stream has always been free, so it’s given users a place in the cloud to store their most recent snaps safely without any cost (although once photos were taken over 30 days ago they would disappear from My Photo Stream).
My Photo Stream offers a taster of iCloud, which offers vastly more storage space and keeps photos, however old they are. iCloud offers a free tier of 5GB of storage, which is enough to store around 3,500 photos, but if you want more storage than this you’ll have to pay.
One problem with iCloud is it stops storing your photos if you reach maximum capacity, and this is where the benefit of My Photos Stream has always come in. My Photo Stream has always provided space for new photos because the ones that turn 30 days old get automatically deleted.
Of course, photos taken on an iPhone or an iPad get saved to the camera roll (the Recents folder) which means they’re stored locally on the phone itself rather than the cloud. But phone storage space is limited and you can’t access these files from your other Apple devices unless they’re stored on the cloud.
Many of us also delete photos from the Recents folder to free up space on the phone itself knowing they’ll have automatically appeared in My Photo Stream – but all this is now changing. The reason for Apple discontinuing My Photo Stream is unclear, although the decision could push users to sign up for the paid version of iCloud. Apple users have been receiving emails about the shutdown, telling them that iCloud is the best way to keep photos taken across all devices ‘safely stored’.