When I saw the new iCloud Photo Sync demo at WWDC, I was in love.

Photo storage and syncing has been a struggle of mine for a while. I’ve bounced between external drives (which makes accessibility when I’m not at home difficult) and using local storage (which wastes expensive MacBook SSD space) … but never been happy. I’ve switched between Lightroom and Aperture for my “professional” images (AKA those taken when my Nikon DSLR) and mostly used iPhoto for my iPhone captured images.

The other issue was 16GB iOS devices fill up quick these days. So to save space, I would regularly sync my devices back to iPhoto and then delete the photos from my phone, but again, this made accessing older photos difficult when on the go.

With the convergence of getting better and better iPhone cameras that rival my 8 year old Nikon D200, and getting tired of paying for Adobe software updates, I eventually merged everything into iPhoto.

Now, with iOS 8.1, the iCloud Photo Sync beta rollout has begun, but only on iOS devices and via the iCloud website. The previously announced Mac app is slated for early 2015. But I want all my stuff in Apple’s cloud now, accessible on every device.

I figured out how:

  • Make sure you have iCloud Photo Sync enabled on your iOS devices.
  • Open iPhoto, open Finder > AirDrop on your Mac.
  • Open Photos on your iOS device.
  • Drag and drop photos from iPhoto to your iOS device of choice via AirDrop.
  • This triggers automatic sync to iCloud which starts dropping optimized versions all around the place.

I’m currently chugging back through May 1 of this year, which I only stopped there because that filled up my iPad with photos, and I want to see if after it uploads how it smashes the used space back down. I could keep going with my iPhone 6 that has another 40GB free, but this is enough experimentation for now.

I’ll also probably have to increase my 20GB iCloud plan to keep going beyond what’s in there now. Once I’ve got things moved off, I’ll be able to get my local copies moved back to external storage and then at some point once the Mac Photos app is released figure out how I want to deal with my local copies again.

I think my iPad will become central to future workflow for editing. I’ve long owned the camera connection kit, but never used it. Now it’s going to become the primary injection point of new images taken with the DSLR or editing ones taken with iPhone. (Especially now that Pixelator for iPad is here!).