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JoSH Lehan

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Cleaning up photos on iPhone [Jan. 15th, 2011|07:20 pm]
JoSH Lehan
[music |The hum of an external hard drive]

Dealing with music on the iPhone is easy, because there's only 2 places they have to be in sync: the iPhone itself, and iTunes. However, photos are non-trivial, because there's a 3rd place now added: iPhoto. Generally, dealing with things on the Mac is very smooth and well thought-out, but there's still a disappointing lack of integration between iTunes and iPhoto.

I ran into a dilemma: My "Camera Roll" folder, because I made the mistake of choosing "No" to the "Delete photos after importing?" question prompted to me by iPhoto, had been filling up. It's taking a lot of data. I see the photos in iPhoto, and on the iPhone. However, the "Camera Roll" is hidden from the view of iTunes, even when you turn off the "Sync everything" feature to get manual control over what to sync. All you can see is individual albums created under iPhoto, and "Camera Roll" is evidentially a special album that is excluded from the list.

I couldn't use iTunes to remove the "Camera Roll". I also couldn't use iPhoto. Unfortunately, once you import a photo into iPhoto, that's it: you are no longer able to access the photo on your device. It will be invisible to iPhoto. That's a big problem, because what if you changed your mind and wanted to delete those photos in your "Camera Roll" after importing them now? You can't do it anymore, because iPhoto will show zero photos on your device, because it's already imported them all, and it won't detect the same photo more than once (I assume this is a feature added by Apple to prevent people from doubling-up all their photos, which is a common problem when trying to deal with large amounts of photos).

The built-in "Photos" icon on the iPhone will see the "Camera Roll", and let me delete photos, but unfortunately, only *one at a time*. Since I have over a thousand photos piled up, that I'm trying to organize in an effort to free up more space, that was not acceptable. Sadly, there's no "Select All" feature that I could find.

The solution, after much research, is to use a more obscure, older, program on the Mac. It's called "Image Capture". It works great! You plug in your iPhone, and it will see exactly the opposite of what iPhoto sees: Image Capture will see *only* the Camera Roll, and nothing else. That's great news, for solving this problem. Now, I can use "Image Capture" and it happily imported all those photos to a new folder (as a backup), and there's a handy checkbox "Delete after import" that does exactly that! Very nice.

So, it seems that there's multiple layers of photo support in the Mac universe: there's the very basic "Camera Roll" folder, which holds all pictures that haven't been placed into any other folder, that's seen by "Image Capture" which moves the contents of this folder directly into a folder on your hard drive, just as a pure file (no photo processing done on it at all). Then, at a higher layer, there's iPhoto (which can import from "Camera Roll" and other pure file folders, and organize a collection of photos into photo albums, as well as do photo retouching, and file format conversion). iTunes works at the iPhoto layer, seeing only albums from iPhoto.

So, what I've learned, is that each tool has its own purpose. The photo-handling tools on the Mac are rather powerful, but unfortunately, the different layers at which they each operate on is hard to understand at first. Apple could have done a much better job at integrating these all together into one seamless experience for the user (something that, normally, Apple is very, very good at doing).

Now I once again have some free space on my iPhone to store things. Why wasn't the iPhone 4 released in a 64GB size? It's enough to make me miss the iPod Classic, which had an amazingly huge size. It's a shame Apple hasn't done anything to continue that product line, as the iPod Classic now is used mostly for plugging into stereo systems and car radios, because it's such a simple device that it's easy to control "hands free" with buttons, unlike Apple's newer touchscreen devices that are difficult to control from a remote control or worse yet, try to touch while driving. Since storage sizes have became just huge these days, I'd love to see a 1TB iPod Classic :)

[User Picture]From: dirigibles
2011-01-16 04:05 am (UTC)
It's worse on a PC; the iPhone supports folders, but it's so difficult to actually *make* folders and sync them to the iPhone. And really, why can't you move photos to new folders on your iPhone? IT seems like a really basic function... When I take pictures, I want to be able to sort them into appropriate folders.
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-03-14 04:46 am (UTC)
brilliant use of gray matter
works well and what a feeling to have that bloated
6G folder released to an external

many thanks Josh,

John -
(Reply) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-09-02 05:14 pm (UTC)
i think the best way is to open the Mac preview program (so no new external program)
Go to File > Import from iPhone
And then you have the list files of your pics stored in the iPhone
rather than import, you can select all files you need to delete
Click on the delete button and it is done.
On your iPhone there are no more such files.

hope this help
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: (Anonymous)
2013-07-03 02:44 am (UTC)
Great article! Thanks for the advice, I can finally free up some much needed space. This was exactly what I was looking for.
(Reply) (Thread)