How to consolidate all the images on your Mac

The “digital shoebox” was a 2007 coinage of Steve Jobs, who intended the Mac to become a digital media hub in which Apple’s programs would help you organize everything. That’s the notion that makes an analogy to having all your negatives, prints, and slides in shoeboxes in the days of film photography, and never being able to find anything.

The digital shoebox metaphor remains accurate in 2018 for the wrong reason, as it’s very easy to wind up with images, videos, audio, and other kinds of files all over your Mac. If you’re supremely organized and single-app oriented, perhaps you manage to import everything into iPhoto (then Photos) and iTunes. But for the rest of us, we have files all over the place.

Macworld reader Todd wrote in asking if there was a good way to consolidate all his photos in one place? His account is far from unusual:

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iOS

How to keep some full resolution images on your iOS device, and store others in the cloud

With iCloud Photo Library you can take endless photos on an iPhone or iPad, or upload endless images on a Mac or via iCloud.com, as long as you’re paying for the right quantity of iCloud storage. And Apple simply manages it for you.

This trick comes through optimized storage, which is enabled by default in iOS when you turn on iCloud Photo Library. On the Mac, you have to turn it on: In the Photos app, go to Preferences > iCloud, check the iCloud Photo Library option, and then pick either to Download Originals to the Mac or Optimize Mac Storage. (I use full-resolution downloads on one of my Macs, a desktop machine, so I have a local copy that I can also backup elsewhere.)

Macworld reader John has a common request. While he’s using optimized storage on his iPad, he wants to always have some media locked at full resolution to show other people. The images he wants to show seem to be dumped routinely by iOS. Retrieving them is tedious—not to mention redundant—unless he has a high-speed internet connection.

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What to do when iPhoto and Photos take up too much storage space on a Mac

When Apple released Photos for macOS, the company chose a clever approach to reduce Photos' storage consumption, knowing that most users would be upgrading an iPhoto library. Because iPhoto retains the originally imported images without modification, an upgrade to Photos would require duplicating all of those images, plus importing any modified versions stored in the library.

I and others have explained this before at Macworld, so I won’t go into great depth, but Apple relied on hard links, a special kind of file alias that allows a file to be stored a single time on disk and have multiple pointers to that file. Those pointers act exactly as if they were the original file. You can delete all but the last hard link and the file remains on disk. (This is in contrast to aliases, which are stub files that point to another file or folder. If that destination is removed, the aliases break.)

For Macworld reader Josh, this became an issue, as he has his old iPhoto library and and a new Photos one, and is running out of storage on his main Mac drive. He wanted to migrate his Photos library, but continue to use iPhoto. The issue was twofold: Where are file stored? And what happens if he moves the Photos library off the main drive?

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How Messages in the Cloud protects SMS (and how it doesn’t)

Apple recently released the long-awaited Messages in the Cloud feature through updates to iOS and macOS, and Macworld provided a how-to guide to enable it on your devices, and some warnings about the time it takes for your devices to upload all the cached messages they maintain.

Macworld reader Lowell had a few questions that aren’t on the how-to front and which Apple doesn’t fully address in its FAQ on the subject.

Lowell wonders about regular text and multimedia messages (SMS/MMS) being encrypted, and how much storage is freed up in iCloud (not just on devices) by pushing everything to the cloud.

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What to do when you can’t use Photos to post pictures to Facebook

Photos for macOS has several built-in options to link into photo sharing and social networking sites, including Flickr and Facebook. There’s a plug-in architecture that allows third parties to add more. However, when the built-in ones fail, it’s hard to know who to point to for help.

Macworld reader J.M. wrote in with a problem that just started happened at the end of May. When trying to upload a picture via macOS Photos to Facebook, an error notification appears:

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How to properly download your iCloud Photo Library

There’s no macOS issue I hear about more than iCloud Photo Library. It's a service that answers many users’ needs, but there are some not-quite-outlying demands that fall through the cracks. This often revolves around being able to get a full set of your images and movies in iCloud Photo Library if you don’t have enough storage on your Mac startup volume.

Macworld reader Shai wrote in with such a concern recently. They have a 300GB media library synced with iCloud Photo Library and a modest disk drive on their MacBook Pro, so Photos for macOS is set to optimize media. The full-resolution versions of images and video are thus only held in iCloud.

When trying to extract their library to shift it to Google Photos, they hit a number of roadblocks.

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How to transfer all your data from an old iPhone to a new iPhone

How do you effectively transfer the contents of an older iPhone to a new one? It's not too difficult to do, whether you're setting up a brand new iPhone fresh out of the box, or your new iPhone is already set up and running, just not with your data.

Here are the steps using iOS 11.3.1 or later.

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