ios - How does iPhone manage duplicate photos?

  • bassplayer7

    I end up with quite a number of duplicate pictures on my iPhone because of Photostream. For example, I take a picture which is saved in the Camera Roll. It is then automatically uploaded to my Photostream. Then, I share the photo to three different Photostreams. As a result I can see the same picture in 5 different places. I'm really tight on space on my device and wondering if this would make it more pronounced?

    Is iPhone smart enough to manage duplicates? If not, is there an alternate way to manage duplicate photos at least somewhat?

  • Answers
  • kal-al

    If you go to Settings > General > Usage, it will show under Storage how much memory is used by Photos & Camera, and when you tap that, it will show you what portion is from your Photo Stream. Now, I had a shared photo stream with about 20 photos, and I actually deleted it, and when I checked I saw that Photo Stream storage did not go down. So I suspect if the same photo is in multiple photo streams, it does not use extra storage on your device. What it did imply, however, is that each photo in my Photo Stream is using about 1MB, and I know full sized photos from the iPhone are usually closer to 3MB. Apple says that photos downloaded to the Photo Stream on mobile devices are scaled down to use less space.

    So this all indicates that the Photo Stream includes a duplicate copy of each photo, but a single photo in multiple photo streams does not increase storage.

    What I personally recommend is importing photos and videos to iPhoto or Picasa and using that software to delete them from the iPhone every once in a while. This clears the camera roll only. That keeps storage down while still letting you view recent photos in your Photo Stream.

  • Related Question

    ios 5 - How do you erase pictures from the Photo Stream album on an iPhone running iOS 5?
  • Kalamane

    I have recently upgraded to iOS 5 on my iPhone 4 and am loving it. One issue I've run into is that my iPhone adds my recently taken photos to an album named "Photo Stream" whenever I'm on WiFi.

    The Photo Stream album seems to have the same properties that an album I had synced with iTunes would have; meaning I can't delete photos.

    I have my iPhone syncing with iCloud, but I can't find any mention of synced pictures on

    How do I erase pictures I don't want from the Photo Stream? Do I have to delete them from my Camera Roll?

  • Related Answers
  • conorgriffin


    As of March 7th 2012 you can now delete individual photos from Photo Stream if you are running iOS 5.1 or iPhoto 9.2.2

    Believe it or not, it seems you can't delete individual photos from iOS5 Photo Stream. It seems you'll need to wait for them to scroll off as Photo Stream just holds your most recent 1000 pics. Deleting a picture from Camera Roll has no effect on the photos on Photo Stream.

    According to this page:

    iCloud manages your Photo Stream efficiently so you don't run out of storage space on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If you have Photo Stream enabled on your iOS device, every single photo you take appears in a special Photo Stream album that holds your last 1000 photos. You can't edit or delete photos from your Photo Stream. If you want to touch up a photo or keep a favorite shot permanently, simply save it to your Camera Roll. iCloud stores new photos for 30 days, so you have plenty of time to connect your iOS device to Wi-Fi and make sure you always have your most recent shots handy.

    So unless you delete it before it's uploaded to the cloud, you need to follow the procedures below. You need to reset your Photo Stream from or turn off Photo Stream within iOS5 on your device.

    Turn off Photo Stream in iOS5:

    • Settings > iCloud > Photo Stream
    • Switch off and then back on to clear Photo Stream on this device
    • Repeat for each iOS5 device

    Reset Photo Stream on

    • Sign into
    • Click on your name in the upper-right corner
    • Click on 'Advanced'
    • Click 'Reset Photo Stream' to remove all Photo Stream pictures from iCloud
  • Chris

    I came up with a work-a-round. The instructions to remove selective photos from Photo Stream. It's written for those using iCloud Control Panel to sync with PC. Those with Macs should be able to get the same result if they substitute for the Photo Stream folders that are used with iPhoto, or Aperture. So for instructions to remove just a few photos Go here:

    I do have to warn you this is by no means convenient, but it works for now until we get an update. Let me know what you guys think.

    Also: I'm not sure you guys know this, or not, but if you turn off and on Photo Stream on your device, it erases the photo stream files just for that device. No reset needed. So basically after you take a bunch of photos, and don't want the wasted space cycle photo stream on and off just on your phone. Your pictures will still be backed up in the cloud and on your computer, but will NOT sync back to your phone again unless you upload them manually using iCloud Control Panel.

    I hope that helps out some people neither solutions are perfect.

    It would be real nice if apple would add support for deletion, but I'm starting to think it has something to do with the difficulty setting rules for how multiple devices handle editing the same files in the cloud. Redundancy is the safest bet to avoid data loss.

  • Dan J

    I copied all the pictures I had in my Photo Stream to my Camera Roll. Just select all of them (I had 250 and it didn't take long), then choose the Save to Camera Roll option.

    After I did that, I went to Settings->iCloud->Photo Stream and turned if off. It will warn you that doing this will delete all the pictures you have in Photo Stream, but that's okay since you have copies of them in your Camera Roll.

    Now that the album is deleted, you can select any individual pictures you want to delete / keep from your Camera Roll, and you don't have to deal with Photo Stream anymore!

  • Daniel Lawson

    Go to settings on your iPhone and there is a new added title of iCloud. Turn photo streaming off and it asks you if you want to delete the photos. choose "yes" then when you go to your photos folder back at the main menu, you will see that the streaming photos are deleted.

  • walker

    You can go to your Settings. When there, click on iCloud. You simply scroll down to the 'Photo Stream' and make it say off!

    It will delete the "automatic uploads" from you camera as well as delete the Photo Stream album in your photo library.

    I had this problem. I deleted the album. Now I have just one album: Camera Roll. The photo stream album is now deleted. I can take and delete photos with out there being anything permanent!