What Happens to Photos you take on your iPhone or iPad?

What happens to the photos you take on your iPhone or iPad? Here’s the 4 ways your iPhone or iPad will save your photos.

  1. In the Photos app on your phone or tablet up to its storage capacity. Any photos you take with your phone or tablet are automatically saved in the Photos app. If you don’t enable iCloud storage then once you reach the storage capacity of your device, you’ll eventually run out of storage space for photos.
  2. In iCloud as a backup. Once you enable iCloud as a backup on your phone or tablet, each photo you take is duplicated in the cloud. You’ll have a copy on your phone and Ipad for example as well as a copy in Apple iCloud. iCloud is accessed by logging into iCloud online with your Apple ID.
  3. Using Airdrop as a backup. If you don’t enable iCloud, then your next option is to save photos manually using Airdrop.
  4. In Photo Stream without iCloud backup. Photo Stream can be enabled in the Photos app to backup files in Photos without using iCloud

Auto Save Photo Options

Options 1, 2 and 4 auto save when enabled. Your iPhone and Macbook share your photos automatically through iCloud; Apple’s cloud storage system that’s built into every Mac product. So saving happens automatically as long as you have iCloud enabled.

iCloud storage saves photos in the “cloud” and let’s you share photos between any of your Apple devices like an iPhone, iPad or Mac that also have iCloud enabled.

Photo Stream will save your photos once it’s enabled.

Manual Save Photo Options

Option 3 is a manual backup. To save photos from your phone manually without using iCloud, you’ll need to turn on AirDrop.

How to set up Your iPhone and Macbook for sharing photos

First we’ll go through how to set up your iPhone and Macbook to share with iCloud and/or AirDrop.

Set Up iPhone with Airdrop

On your iPhone go to Settings > General >Airdrop

You’ll see these three options. I recommend checking Contacts Only

  • Receiving off
  • Contacts only (recommended)
  • Everyone

Set Up iPhone with iCloud

On your iPhone go to Settings > Photos > iCloud Photos (tap to enable it)

Choose either Optimize iPhone Storage to enable it (recommended) OR Download and Keep Originals.

Additional options under iPhone Storage aren’t necessary to enable iCloud but to change these to your preferences

  • Upload to my Photo Stream
  • Shared Albums
  • Cellular Data
  • Auto Play Videos and Live Photos
  • Show Holiday Events
  • Transfer to Mac or PC – Choose Automatic (recommended)

Set up Macbook with iCloud

On the Macbook, you’ll set up iCloud within the Photos application.

1. Set Up the Photos App

  • Open Photos application
  • Go to Photos > Preferences (in top bar)
  • Under the General tab choose
  • Photos > Summarize Photos
  • Importing > Copy Items to Photos Library
  • While still in Preferences click on the iCloud tab
  • Check iCloud Photo Library
  • Check Download Originals to this Mac OR Optimize Mac Storage
  • Check My Photo Stream if you want to use this in addition or instead of iCloud storage
  • Check iCloud Photo Sharing if you want to share albums with other Mac users

Once you’ve enabled iCloud in Photos on your Macbook, all the photos from your phone will automatically appear in Photos on your Macbook. 

Set up iCloud on your Macbook by going to Settings > iCloud and check iCloud Drive then Photos, Calendars and any other apps you want to be back up in iCloud

Saving Photos with Airdrop

If you don’t want to use iCloud to backup your photos or you need to manually share a photo from your phone to Photos, use Airdrop. Airdrop is a proprietary file sharing system on Apple computers and phones.

On your iPhone go to Photos app and scroll to the photos you want to save.

  • Tap on the Select button in top right corner, then tap the photos you want to save. Once selected, you’ll see a blue checkmark on each photo as above
  • Tap the share icon in bottom left corner (box with a vertical arrow)
  • This opens a window like above. You’ll need to be close to the device you’re sharing with for Airdrop to recognize it. Give it a few seconds to pop up. Tap on your Apple ID symbol if you have one (mine is the dragonfly)
  • Once you tap the Airdrop symbol you’ll get a popup notification on your Macbook to Decline or Accept the photo
  • Choose accept, then choose to Open in Photos or Save to Downloads
  • If you want to edit the photo you just saved in Photoshop or Canva, save it to Downloads. Just don’t forget to open it from the Downloads folder and then save it to a named folder so you know where to find it.

If you enable iCloud, you’ll always have a copy of your photos on each of your registered Apple devices. It’s by far the easiest way to store them. Just keep in mind photos can take up a lot of space, and you may eventually run out of the free 5GB allowance Apple gives you.

Don’t worry, you can purchase an additional 50GB allowance plan for .99 per month. Another option is try to maximise that free 5GB allowance using these storage hacks for iPhones that I’ve found!

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1 Response

  1. September 8, 2020

    […] you share it with Airdrop, wait a few minutes for the symbol to pop […]