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Save Photo Stream Images to a folder in Mac OS X

Photo Stream is a nice feature of iCloud that pushes all of your pictures automatically to your other iOS devices and your Mac with iPhoto or Aperture. If you haven’t used it before, this means if you take a picture on your iPhone, it will automatically show up in the Photo Stream on your iPad, and also in iPhoto on your Mac. Oddly, there isn’t an option to choose a destination other than iPhoto or Aperture in Mac OS X though, but this cool trick allows you to specify a folder and then download all the images from iCloud to your Mac, without using iPhoto or Aperture.

In order to use the following script, you will need iOS 5 and OS X 10.7.2 or later, as well as and the Photo Stream option enabled in Mac OS X’s iCloud System Preferences.

  • Open AppleScript Editor, found at /Applications/Utilities/AppleScript Editor.app
  • In a new blank AppleScript window, paste in the following code, replacing “USERNAME” with the short user name of your Mac OS X home directory:
  • tell application "Finder"
    set this_folder to "Macintosh HD:Users:USERNAME:Library:Application Support:iLifeAssetManagement:assets" as alias
    set target_folder to "Macintosh HD:Users:USERNAME:Pictures:MyStream" as alias
    try
    duplicate (every file of the entire contents of this_folder whose name contains "IMG") to the target_folder with replacing
    end try
    end tell

  • This will look something like this in the AppleScript editor:

Download Photo Stream Images to a Folder in Mac OS X with an AppleScript

  • Adjust the target_folder variables as appropriate – Change “Macintosh HD” if your hard drive is named something else, and change “MyStream” if you want the final directory to be something other than that name located in the user Pictures directory – remember with AppleScript, rather than slashes the colon is used instead to type and show file and folder paths
  • Run the script to verify that it works and then save the script with an appropriate name like “PhotoStreamDownloader”, and select “Application” as the file format for easy access and launching later

Now anytime you want to download your Photo Stream to your Mac, just launch that saved script app and you will grab your latest Photo Stream images to the configure directory in Mac OS X. For best results, place the application into your /Applications directory and add it to Launchpad for easy future use.

AppleScript Editor is fairly intuitive, and if you entered a directory or path wrong when you attempt to run the script it will let you know with an “AppleScript Error” message. If you get a “iLifeAssetManagement:assets wasn’t found” message, then you haven’t enabled Photo Stream in iCloud’s System Preference panel.

Hopefully a future update to iCloud and Photo Stream will allow us to choose an image download destination directly, but until then this great trick works just fine.

Like this? Check out some more iCloud tips.

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