If you use an iPhone as your main camera, it doesn’t take long to run out of space and/or not have a backup because you run out of iCloud space (only 5GB free & you have a 32/64/128 GB phone?). I’ve been asked by several people how I manage my photos and keep them backed up.  This is how I’ve been managing it for the last few years.  (One caveat, I hate iPhoto and do not use it on my Mac. I do most of my photo editing on my iPhone or an online program called PicMonkey.

  • Delete extraneous pictures off of your iPhone’s camera roll (save the
    one good one out of five that you took).
  • Open a Dropbox account (free for first 2 GB – see link below for my referral.) You receive more free space if you refer friends, and turn on camera uploads.
  • Setup Dropbox on your phone to sync the camera roll. When you open Dropbox on your phone, it will sync all new pictures on your camera roll since your last sync. So delete the ones you don’t want before you open Dropbox.
  • Install Dropbox on your Mac (or Windows machine)–it will put the sync’d pictures into a Camera Uploads folder. I added that folder to my favorites in Finder so I can get to it quickly.
  • On my Mac, I’ll sort through Camera Uploads and drag the pictures to the appropriate folder (usually by year). I then go back to my iPhone Camera Roll and delete the pictures that I filed. (Syncing them to your Dropbox account does not delete them automatically.)
  • I sync my iPhone to my MacBook Pro through iTunes to backup the phone itself, and I select the specific photo folders to sync back to my phone so I have all my photo albums, sorted accordingly.
  • My MacBook Pro is backed up to an external drive using Time Machine a few times a week.

PhotoStream vs. iCloud Photo

  • PhotoStream contains photos from the last 30 days or 1,000 pictures across all devices tied to that Apple account (iPhone, iPad).  Then they roll off.  It’s temporary. I use this feature.
  • iCloud Photo is a service that stores ALL your photos in the Cloud and you access them from any of your Apple devices – they are not temporary. If you setup this option, you can’t sync photos from your Mac. I choose not to use this feature because I prefer my setup and don’t want to pay more money for more space in the Cloud.

Dropbox is purely file management, and it’s encrypted.  If you’re constantly moving your photos out of the Camera Uploads folder, than you won’t need to worry about buying more space on Dropbox.One other caveat to Dropbox – when we went on our foreign trips, I didn’t take my Mac. I took many pictures on my iPhone. When we would get back to the hotel on wifi, I would open the Dropbox app, and all my pictures would upload to the cloud. If my phone happened to get stolen or lost, I would still have my pictures in the cloud waiting for me when I got home.Photostream accomplishes a similar feat (1,000 picture limit), but you would have to access your photostream on another device and download every picture from the stream. Dropbox’s method is wireless and automatic.

Think of your iPhone’s camera roll as a garden that needs to be pruned – I’ll take those little bits of time here and there to clean off the camera roll of pictures I won’t want to keep (standing in line, waiting for a prescription, in the elevator, etc.). The iPhone camera has improved to such a degree that I rarely carry my Canon anymore.

P.S. I highly recommend the app Scanner Pro. It’s great for scanning documents, will sync to the Apple Cloud or Dropbox. I realized it is also great for scanning photos. You can save as PDF or JPG.