How to get access to your Photo Stream without dealing with iPhoto

A smartphone isn’t a smartphone without some sort of online backup of your photos these days. Apple provides its iCloud service for all iOS users, removing the need for third party services (even though many of us choose them instead). Your iPhone will upload any new images, whether they be photos or screenshots, and synchronise them to your OSX computer. To get at those photos, Mac users would usually have to go through the iPhoto application. However, if you wish to use the native file manager of OSX instead, here’s a quick guide to find photos synchronised via iCloud.

If you use a Mac, it is possible to set up a folder of all your Photo Stream images, rather than having to go through iCloud.


  1. Launch OS X’s Finder, press the Options key and then click on the “Go” menu option and select “Library.”
  2. Navigate to Application Support, select iLifeAssetManagement, then select assets, and then finally select “sub”.
  3. Type “jpg” and select “Kind: JPEG image” in the search field
  4. Select only the “sub” folder in Finder.
  5. Click the “Save button” in the top right corner to save the search.
  6. Select “Add to Sidebar” quick access access to your Photo Stream in Finder.


Optionally, you can create another folder for your photos by replacing “jpg” and “JPEG” with png and PNG respectively. Also right-clicking the saved search in the sidebar allows you to add the folder to your dock for even faster access.

If you’re a windows user and wondering how to get your iCloud photos on your PC, all you have to do is install the iCloud control panel for Windows.

Credits to LifeHacker and The IconMaster for the tips and screenshots.

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  • Ralph Montgomery


  • G

    Does this not work on mountain lion? What is click for the options key?

    • iPhoneHacks

      Yes, it works on Mountain Lion. It should have read – “press the Options key and then click on the “Go” menu option”

      Corrected it.

  • ZeRoLiMiT

    i’ve notice not all the photo stream photos are in the folder!

  • buffybear

    Kudos to iPhone Hacks. As a long time daily reader of you articles, you really outdid yourself this time. This was really a photo gamechanger for me. Thanks so much!!!

  • Younes

    I didn’t find any pictures on my sub folder, do you have anu idea why ?

  • Matt

    Wow this is amazing! Any word on what the different folders are in the assets folder?

  • Mara

    Hm… I know how a smart folder works, but mine was empty after i saved the search. So, I looked under the hood and checked file permissions via command line. Sure enough:
    -rw—–@ IMG_0007.JPG
    I changed permissions to:
    -rw-rw-rw-@ IMG_0007.JPG
    and now I see the files in the smart folder.

    Any ideas? I’m running 10.8.4 on a late 2012 iMac, and iOS6.1 on a iPhone 4s.

  • slouching

    Why don’t I have an iLifeAssetManagement? I have a MacBook with an OS10.6.8?

  • Anonymous

    This is a good tutorial, but is there any way to save screenshots on Mac OS to the photostream? I can’t find anything on it.