Getting Your iCloud Photostream to Play Nice With Lightroom [en]

[fr] Frustré de devoir passer par iPhoto pour récupérer vos photos d'iPhone (via Photostream) alors que vous utilisez Lightroom pour gérer vos photos? La solution s'appelle PhotoStream2Folder (et c'est développé par un Suisse)!

So, with all the cat photos I’ve been taking, both with my “good camera” and my iPhone, and trying to publish them both to Flickr and Facebook, I’ve been looking for solutions to make things a little less kludgy.

See, I use Lightroom to manage my “proper photos” and upload them to Flickr, and my iPhone photos now end up in iPhoto, thanks to iCloud. So if I choose to upload any to Flickr, I do it manually from the Flickr site. As for Facebook, I need to export my Lightroom photos to my hard drive first (but that’s another story: haven’t found a solution yet to sync my Flickr uploads to Facebook).

I’ve been unhappy about having my photos in two separate catalogues, specially as the iPhone 4 does have a decent camera and can at times produce usable photos.

The solution is called PhotoStream2Folder and it has been developed by Laurent Crivello, a fellow Swiss guy. (Do consider making a donation if you find his little tool useful.)

PhotoStream2Folder is not just useful for Lightroom users: what it does is dump your photostream photos in a folder you can access on your hard drive, rather than hide it forever in your iPhoto library.

I basically set it up following the “watched folders” instructions on the site (and at the same time, discovered Lightroom watched folders). Follow the screenshots, they are better than any explanation!

  1. First, I installed PhotoStream2Folder
  2. Then, I created a folder called “Photostream” in my Pictures folder — this is where PhotoStream2Folder will dump my photostream photos until Lightroom moves them into my “proper” photo folders (I organize by year/month on my hard drive)
  3. I enabled Auto Import in Lightroom (File > Auto Import) and set it to import photos from the Photostream folder I’d created into another folder in my photo hierarchy:
    Auto Import Settings
  4. Then I configured the settings in PhotoStream2Folder like this:
    PhotoStream2Folder General Settings
    PhotoStream2Folder Lightroom settings
    PhotoStream2Folder Tagging Settings
  5. …and launched the scan!

This means all my photostream photos are now part of my Lightroom catalogue. I personally move those I want to publish or make other useful use of into “proper” folders, and leave all the rest in the photostream folder.

Hope this comes in handy to somebody!

20 thoughts on “Getting Your iCloud Photostream to Play Nice With Lightroom [en]

  1. I keep seeing PhotoStream2Folder turning up, when I search for ways to access PhotoStream on my mac, without having to use iPhoto.

    Like most of the other sites plugging PhotoStream2Folder, you omit to mention the one huge drawback; namely PhotoStream2Folder requires you to already have iPhoto installed to work [albeit iPhoto does not need to be running]. Makes it all a bit pointless really, if you ask me. If I’m going to have to buy and install iPhoto anyway, I might as well just use that instead.

  2. I don’t mind having iPhoto somewhere on my computer. I do mind having to use it to edit and upload and deal with my photos instead of Lightroom, my photo manager/editor of choice. Makes a huge difference!

    I can see how it’s kind of a drawback if you don’t have iPhoto, of course. But there is still a difference between “having to have iPhoto” and “having to USE iPhoto”.

    “Plugging PhotoStream2Folder”? You make it sound like I’m writing about it with some kind of hidden marketing agenda. I’m not. I find it useful, is all, and I blog about stuff I like I find useful.

  3. Watchfolders does not support subfolder, but photostream2folder does not provide option do not create folders by date. In result it just does not work.

  4. photostream2folder, as I’ve set it up, does not create folders by date. it just dumps everything in a single folder. and is working on my computer as I speak.

  5. I wanted to love Photostream but the tie in to Aperture just doesn’t do it for me (I’m a diehard Lightroom user, Aperture doesn’t even come close imho). Tried Photostream2folder for a while but now that dropbox offers offers auto photo uploads – I can turn off photo stream altogether! (Yay!) Just set up that dropbox folder in your Lightroom Library and synch it

  6. Check out, which lets you define rules and actions. I use this to post from flickr -> twitter -> Facebook.

    Thanks for this post!

  7. I know about ifttt of course, but it won’t help somebody who wants to get photos from the iCloud photostream to Lightroom! Unrelated problem!

  8. Thank Stephanie,
    Was looking for something like this.
    Took me some time to get it working, had to remove the folder option in the formating, but seems to be good now, will test it out, have a whole load of pics to sync.


  9. IFTTT (If This Then That) is a solution for syncing Flickr & Facebook. There is a predefined “recipe” that allows you you to sync the two. If you upload an image to Flickr, THEN Facebook automatically uploads & publishes the picture. You can create similar rules to trigger an action – Instagram saved to Dropbox, All tweets saved to Evernote, and on and on.

    I know this is an old post, but I figured the information might be useful to people wanting a similar solution.

  10. How do I stop the “error: remove subfolders from format field” ??

  11. Thanks for the post. This looks like it could be a good solution. I ran into a few snags and was wondering if you encountered them (sounds like a few of your posters did). When I go to the Lightroom tab, I get an error that says it doesn’t support subfolders. I tried to make it look like your example. Also, the photostream folder is not showing my last two days of photos – even though I can see these photos on my iOS devices. Suggestions?

  12. Stephanie, thank you so much!! This is a terrific way to get my iphone 5 pix into Lightroom! I’m amazed that you figured it all out.

  13. Thanks for this Stephanie. I’ll try it out. Looks very promising.

  14. Are the photo stream images that are downloaded to Lightroom full-res iPhone images? I thought that photo stream uses a lower-res version? Thanks for the tips!

  15. Full resolution photos are sent to Photo Stream, and downloaded to your Mac or PC, regardless of the utility used to do so (e.g. Aperture, iPhoto, Windows iCloud Control Panel or PhotoStream2Folder). On OS X it’s actually a background iCloud process that downloads the Photo Stream photos to your computer, with Aperture/iPhoto/PhotoStream2Folder simply picking them up from there.

    The copy left on the iOS device (and transferred to other iOS devices) is downscaled to a resolution appropriate for on-device viewing, presumably to save storage space and bandwidth. This downscaling varies slightly between devices, with the Retina Display iPads getting the highest-resolution version for obvious reasons.

    This is also probably part of the reason why Apple still only supports Photo Stream over Wi-Fi, despite the fact that Shared Photo Streams work over either a Wi-Fi or cellular connection (photos in Shared Photo Streams are downscaled before uploading).

  16. hi
    photostream2folder seems to be the programme I was looking for. But how to install/start it? after downloading the “.dmg” file and putting it into the proposed folder “utility” nothing happens when double clicking on the icon? have I to do anything “more complicated” to have it run?

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