Get Photo Stream Pictures via Finder – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 47Get Photo Stream Pictures via Finder

iPhoto and Aperture allow you to access Photo Stream photos, provided you have the option selected within the iCloud section of System Preferences (Apple menuSystem Preferences). Photo Stream contains pictures taken by your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that are automatically uploaded to iCloud and shared among all your Apple computing devices.

However, starting up iPhoto or Aperture each time to access the photos can be frustrating if you’re in a hurry, especially considering that—on my system at least—iPhoto has a habit of freezing for several seconds at a time.

The solution is to access the pictures using Finder. Here are the steps to create a desktop shortcut that you can double-click to instantly access the Photo Stream images. Note that this won’t work if you don’t have Photo Stream or Aperture installed, but they don’t need to be running for it to work (unlike with earlier releases of OS X, Mountain Lion updates your Photo Stream as a background service, independently of the apps).

Once you know the location of Photo Stream photos, you can also add it to the backup list of any third-party backup solutions you might use.

  1. Open Finder, and hit Shift+Command+G. In the dialog box that appears, type ~/Library/Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub/, and hit Return.

  2. In the Search field at the top right of the Finder window, type kind:image. Then click "sub" alongside the Search heading on the thin toolbar above the file listing. You should now see all your Photo Stream images in the Finder window. But we’re not finished yet!

  3. Click the Save button at the top of the Finder window. In the dialog box that appears, type Photo Stream in the Save As field, and select Desktop from the Where drop-down list. Then click Save. A new icon should appear on your desktop.

From now on, double-clicking the Photo Stream desktop icon will open a Finder window displaying your Photo Stream images. Note: Only ever look at the images or copy them to a new location. Never edit the images or even open them in an image editor. Use only Preview and Quick Look to view them. Never add any files to the folder either. All these actions could damage your iCloud configuration.