How to Access iOS Photos on Your Mac Without Launching iPhoto

photostream

Photo Stream is this awesome feature in iCloud that automatically distributes your photos across all of your devices. Despite the benefit of not needing to connect your device to your Mac to access the photos, there is one drawback. For instance, to access photos in your Photo Stream, you need to launch iPhoto on your Mac. It’s not the fastest way and luckily, there is a better solution.

The Iconmaster posted a tutorial about how to quickly access iOS screenshots on your Mac. Here’s how you do it:

Enable Photo Stream on your devices

Update your iCloud settings on your iPhone, iPod Touch, iMac, and MacBooks.

Locate Photo Stream in Finder

Photo Stream is hidden by default, but there is a way to locate it. On Terminal, navigate to the folder using the following command:

cd Library/Application\ Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/

Then, open the sub folder like so:

open sub

You can also locate the folder via Finder as well if Terminal doesn’t suit you. First, navigate to your username’s folder. In the Finder menu, head to Go > Go to Folder and search for “Library.” From there, follow the following path: Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub.

Define your search criteria

Once you have the sub folder open in Finder, hit CMD+F. Here, you will need to limit your search scope to the sub folder, and filter the folder by Kind is Image. Iconmaster’s tutorial only specifies that you should limit the search by PNG, but that was for the purposes of locating screenshots. I prefer viewing all of my photos.

search criteria

Finishing touches

finder

Access Photo Stream in Finder

Once you’ve defined your search criteria, save the search and give the folder you’ve just created an appropriate name. I left the “Add to Sidebar” option checked for convenience.

I noticed that after awhile, the saved search would not update the search results, so recent images from Photostream were not being pulled. One way to fix this is to rebuild your Spotlight index via sudo mdutil -E /. More details here.

  • Toby Adams

    Will this refresh without launching iPhoto? i.e. is there a Daemon that pulls them down or does iPhoto have to be running?

  • Andrew

    It looks like there is a daemon that pulls down new Photostream pictures. But if you edit a picture on your Mac, the new version will not be pushed to your other devices.

  • Cailin Coilleach

    Great :( It looks like this tip stopped working recently (most recent 10.7 update). The “pub” folder is gone and only “sub” and “watch” remain, which are empty. I’ll dig around and try to find the relevant new location.

    • Cailin Coilleach

      Mmm, sorry. Seems to have been tied to an iPhoto update, which stripped out the Photostream stuff from my Macbook. Finishing the upgrade and restarting iPhoto restored the PS directory.