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To read Apple’s description on its website, Photo Stream is a flawless cross-platform service that “just works” across all of our devices. Snap a picture with your iPhone and the photo will be magically beamed to all of your iCloud-enabled Macs and iPads, ready to be touched up in Photoshop or emailed to friends.
But while Photo Stream works as advertised across our iOS devices, it’s not quite as seamless on our Macs. Depending on the age of your machine, a trip to iPhoto can bring up the dreaded pinwheel of death, crippling your workflow while you watch it spin. Even on our 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display, loading our stream is far from instantaneous, often taking several minutes to populate the window with just a few days’ worth of new snapshots. MyPhotostream simplifies the process to the point of enjoyment. By taking Photo Stream out of iPhoto, this lightweight app strips away the bloat that slows things to a crawl and boils the iCloud service down to its two most basic steps: drag and drop.
The entirety of the interface consists of a single window. Each time it’s launched, MyPhotostream scans the iLifeAssetManagement folder in your user library directory to find the latest pictures in your stream and displays them chronologically. Photos are initially shown in batches of 50, but that’s a one-time nuisance; the number of photos displayed at launch is customizable, and we saw no discernible difference in load time between “Few” and “All,” even with a maxed-out Photo Stream of 1,000 pics.
Double-clicking a photo expands it to fill the window and offers a basic set of controls and options. The same menu is more readily available by right-clicking on a photo (or photos) in the main window, but either way presents a number of options: email, Facebook, Flickr, Messages, and Airdrop sharing, along with shortcuts to any editing apps you may have installed. But for our money, the best part of MyPhotostream is the ability to quickly drag a photo right out of the window and drop it on our desktop.
Notification alerts inform you of any new photos that have been snapped or saved on another device, but unfortunately, you cannot add photos directly into your stream without opening iPhoto or Aperture. A similar quibble was the inability to delete photos using MyPhotostream. Both issues are due to Apple’s strict file-system permissions and are unlikely to change. And its speed had us wishing there were ways to automatically filter out photos by source or screenshot.
The bottom line. MyPhotostream is a one-trick pony, but it’s a darn good trick.
Mac running OS X 10.8 or later with iPhoto or Aperture installed
Ultra-simple interface. Lightning-fast access to your Photo Stream. Good menu of sharing options.
No editing or deleting of photos. Can’t manually add images to Photo Stream accounts. No filtering.