Apple is killing ‘My Photo Stream.’ Should you care?

This Apple service will no longer sync your photos.
A woman with black hair wearing a white shirt and standing in front of a body of water while looking very confused at her phone.
Confused? Not for long. imustbedead / Pexels

Apple users are getting confusing emails about something called “My Photo Stream” and its impending shutdown. The email says uploads to this service stopped on June 26 and that all photos in it will be deleted on July 26. Should you be worried about losing your pics?

No. Your photos will still exist on the device you used to take them. They’re also likely syncing with iCloud, either via your paid plan or your 5GB of free cloud storage. With that out of the way, what is actually changing? Let’s unpack this a little.

What is My Photo Stream?

The first confusing thing here is that Apple’s email talks about “My Photo Stream” as though this is something you should know about. I’m willing to bet most people don’t, which is why this email is causing so much confusion.

Put simply, My Photo Stream was a free Apple service that synced every photo you took in the past month, up to 1,000 of them, between all of your devices, without taking up any storage space in your iCloud account. This was ideal for iPhone users who don’t have a subscription: you could access recent pics on your iPhone, iPad, Macbook, whatever, without using any of your free iCloud storage space. This feature also made it possible to download these recent photos to your other devices, so long as you did so within the 30-day limit.

[Related: All the ways iOS 16 lets you edit your lock screen]

You can find your Photo Stream in the Photos app. Head to Albums and it will be there, for now. Apple stopped syncing new photos to the folder on June 26. Photos added before then are still there, but by July 26 they will all disappear from this album.

Will you lose your photos?

According to Apple, no. Photos will stop showing up in the “My Photo Stream” album but will remain on your device. Here’s the relevant bit from their official statement:

The photos in My Photo Stream are already stored on at least one of your devices, so as long as you have the device with your originals, you won’t lose any photos as part of this process.

Basically, your photos will stay on whatever device you used to take them. You can also sync your photos using iCloud. The only thing that will change is there will no longer be a “My Photo Stream” album.

What can you use instead?

As I’ve said a few times, you can subscribe to iCloud to easily sync photos between all of your Apple devices. It’s not the cheapest cloud storage space on the market, but it’s not outrageously priced and is by far the easiest service to use if you’re primarily an Apple user. Having said that, there are other options. All of the best cloud storage applications can back up photos from your Apple devices. Or, if you prefer, you can sync files without the cloud, including your photos. Failing that, you could go truly old school and plug your iPhone into your computer and grab the photos the old fashioned way.