How To Remove Pictures From Your iPhone But Still Access Recent Pictures

Today's Tech Talk post is in response to a recent reader question: "I love how easy it is to import photos from my iPhone into iPhoto and then delete them from my iPhone, but I constantly find myself regretting doing that because it's nice to be able to look at photos 2 weeks ago or 2 months ago on my iPhone. How can I have the best of both worlds?"

That's an excellent question, and I have a great answer for you! The short version: import into iPhoto then export to your iPhone. Confused? Read on.

Importing photos from your iPhone into your iPhoto library means that a copy of those photos are placed into your iPhoto library. At the end of the import process, iPhoto will ask if you want it to auto-delete those picture from your iPhone. Most people (including myself) will choose to do this because it helps to keep your phone clean and storage usage relatively low. As you can imagine, however, this means that those picture are no longer on your iPhone for viewing. This is where my awesome tips comes into action.

The first thing we need to do is create a new Smart Album in iPhoto. A Smart Album is similar to a regular Album with one key difference... it's a dynamic folder in the sense that the content changes based on the criteria. You see, the contents of that album is not based on dragging pictures into it like a regular album, but is based off of search criteria. For example, I can create a Smart Album that shows me all pictures that were taken in January 2014 AND were taken on my iPhone AND had a personal rating of ★★★★★. Or, I can create a Smart Album that shows me all pictures taken with the event name of "Maui" AND a high ISO setting (which would limit pictures to indoor or nighttime). Creating Smart Albums is easy, fun and can also be addicting, once you really figure out how to use them to your advantage. 

To solve this reader's specific question, we will create a Smart Album that will show us all photos taken in the last 30 days. This is how we will do this:

In iPhoto, go to FileNew Smart Album...


When the "New Smart Album" window appears, we will add the following criteria:

Date ▸ is in the last ▸ 30 ▸ days

Your Smart Album settings should look like this:

If you want to sync more than 30 days of pictures back to your iPhone, you can change the "30" to anything you want.

Now that we have the Smart Album set up and working properly, it's time to sync that Smart Album back to your iPhone. To do this, we will switch over to iTunes. With your iPhone connected, we will go into the sync settings, then look for the Photos tab. From here, make sure that you have photo syncing turned on, then place a checkmark next to the iPhoto Smart Album called "Last 30 Days".

When you apply this change, iTunes will sync that album to your iPhone.

Now that you have a great system in place, doing this going forward will be a snap! Each time you import your photos into iPhoto, it will automatically place a copy of the last 30 days worth of pictures into your new Smart Album, then re-sync them back to your iPhone.

Posted on September 22, 2014 and filed under How To, iOS, iPad, iPhone.