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How To Get iCloud’s Photo Stream Working On A Windows PC

Now that you’ve downloaded iOS 5 to your iPad (well, hopefully…) you can sign up for an iCloud account and start syncing and backing up your data across devices. This includes Photo Stream, which automatically saves all the pictures you take on your iPad or iPhone to the cloud and to synced devices.

Though iCloud functionality is baked in to Mac OS X Lion, Windows users can get in on this, too (for free). Here’s how.

(Have a Mac? Read: How to Setup iCloud’s Photo Stream on Mac)

My first assumption was that iTunes would handle the syncing for iCloud, but that’s not so. Windows users must download the iCloud Control Panel, a free utility compatible with Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) and Windows 7.


The download page also lists Internet Explorer 8 and Outlook 2007 or newer as requirements, but that’s only if you want to sync bookmarks or mail/contacts/calendar data. You don’t need them if you just want Photo Stream.

While it’s downloading and installing, go to your iPad and/or iPhone and ensure that Photo Stream is on.


Once the iCloud Control Panel is downloaded and installed, open it from the install finish menu or go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > iCloud to get to the settings.


Check the box next to Photo Stream, then click Options. Here you’ll see where synced images will end up and where you can put images to upload to iCloud and any other connected devices. You can change it from the default — say if you want to sync all the images in your Pictures folder.


And that’s it. Once you start adding images to the folder for uploads, you’ll see them on other iCloud devices a few minutes later. When you take pictures or screenshots with the iPhone or iPad, they’ll also appear on other devices in a few minutes (as long as you’re connected to WiFi).

There does not appear to be a way to force iCloud to upload or refresh or anything on the PC. But you can go to the iCloud settings to jumpstart a backup on the phone or tablet.


Photo Stream Album on the iPad


My Photo Stream folder on Windows 7

Another note: Photo Stream will only sync the images taken on your iPhone or iPad after you set it up and turn it on. So if you have existing images, they won’t sync.

I find it interesting that Windows users can get this utility for free. Whereas on the Mac, in order to get iCloud syncing you have to upgrade to OS X Lion, which costs $30. One of the few times PCs get the advantage over Macs with iDevices.

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Category: Apps, Hardware, Mobile, Software

Showing 51 comments

So you can upload to the iPhone from pc but not vice versa? That makes no sense. Please tell me that's not true

no you can copy photos from pc to iphone juss drag and drop thje photos to the upload folder shown above and icloud syncs it to iphone (only works if connected to wifi ) 

It is not working for me, and everything is set as should be...all devices connected to WiFi, Upload folder defined, pictures copied to the Upload folder, but pics not appearing in PhotoStream, nor on iPad, nor on iPhone. Any idea what could be wrong??

Same problem here. Does it work for you now?

The photos in your stream from your iPhone will automatically be uploaded to the My Photo Stream folder on your PC as soon as your iPhone is connected to wi-fi.

 ...but they don't... I've got loads of photos in my Photo Stream that aren't appearing in my windows photo stream folder. I've triggered a backup on my iphone... disconnected and reconnected the iphone to the network.

I am using Vista with the latest service pack, I have carefully followed all of the steps above. My photostream pics are not showing up in any directory on my hard drive. Is there some setting in Vista that is stopping this from happening> Thanks

what directory do you have them set to go to? Try changing them?

I'd also make sure that the images are backed up to iCloud by forcing a backup.

Thanks for you reply,
I tried changing them, and I forced a new iCloud backup. No success. I also copy and pasted into the upload directory and nothing.
Gotta keep trying

Doesn't work for me. I did everything listed above but when i take a picture with my iphone it doesnt go into the photo stream folder on the iphone or the upload folder on my PC. Also if a drag a photo into the upload folder it doesn't show up on my iphone.

I feel like that's an iCloud issue. Have you checked all the settings? You should probably ping Apple for help, too.

Im on Vista x64. I Installed it last night on release, i got it configured and i put a few photos into the upload folder, nothing happened. But i can download, only if i put something in an album

Was able to get the photo stream loading automatically, but the pictures are rotated 90 degrees on the PC.  The same photos are right side up on the iPod Touch, and on a Mac looking at the same photo stream.

could u please tell me how u did that!? thanks a lot!

Works like a charm! I followed all the steps and bam! I have my iPhone pics on my PC (Vista). I have to rotate them to right side up, but it's ok. Not much of a hassle. =]

I have photostream working with no problem from iPhone to Windows PC, but the reverse direction isn't working. I changed the default directories to point to an external hard drive, but other than that I can't figure out why the sync wouldn't be working from PC to phone. Any ideas?

I have exactly the same problem, PC to iPad or iPhone not working. I had an upload folder defined on the hard-drive of the PC. Can't seem to figure out why it doesn't work!

My problem, too. The iPhone to PC works like a charm but nothing I drop in my uploads file goes to my phone. ANYONE??

My PC (Vista) doesn't sync the photo stream automatically.  I need to log out and log back in to the iCloud control panel to start the download.  This is more manual than automatic.  Any way to fix this?

Worked at first (Vista 32), but not after a day. Have tried changing folders, logging in/out, upload/download. It's icloud, it just -doesn't- work.

Vista here, only upload works but download from iPad 2 to Download folder (My Photo Stream) on Vista PC never works, tried everything... could this be a router issue???

I have done all the steps to use photo stream but as of now no photos can be seen on my iPad from my PC via iCloud. ,please help

followed the steps, and it works fine. My phone pics got to my stream folder. The only issue i have is that i cant log on to icloud and see a photo stream. 

When will it be released for Windows XP??

Hopefully never.  What a horrible OS.  Win7 64bit all the way...

There's a pretty easy workaround to use iCloud with 32 or 64 bit XP. Search Youtube for the simple instructions.

Help! if i took a picture from my iphone, it doesnt show up on my photostream on pc

I did the steps above and the first day it worked very well. My photos loaded to my window pc(vista). But the second day my photos are not downloading to my pc, even though my pc settings for photo stream is on and my iphone photo stream is on. Any suggestions????

I can get them to go from iphone 4 to pc but adding to uploads folder doesn't work.  Think I'm going to uninstall then reinstall icloud.  I've been looking around and someone said the photos have to be directly in the uploads folder and NOT in subfolders.  The first time I tried, I tried to just rename my entire photo file and then point icloud there.  Might have jammed it up.  I did a reinstall/fix but it didn't help  So frustrating.

I wish it worked with Windows XP and the Iphone that would be nice from XP all you can do is go to and checked out your calender and mail and iworks but no photos! : (

I'm surprised how confusing it is, on my iphone 4s it says I have 4.9 gb pictures, but can't see none of them. Then with itunes I set up the folder to sync, with icloud I have to set up 2 folders to sync, one for upload and one for download.
On pc i have 12 gb fotos to sync, now it says it is too much but those had space without problem on my 3gs occupying only 4.9 gb. (cause of resizing)

for now I don't see pictures in my new iphone, i start the backup of pictures from the iphone, but i want to see those pictures in the iphone itself, not to send the 2 new to the icloud....

making things easy.... comeon!!! your apple thing's aren't working as they shuld.

Yesterday I had to find a stratagemma because the halft of the apps weren't shown in the iphone, still i have no pictures even if it says there are 4.9 gb...

And by the way, the battery of the 4s is crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
YOU HAVE A SUPER DESIGN, and a crap battery, you took off the 3g enable-disable option, wich was the...

Took some pics last night.  Amazing pictures.  Tmobile sent me a new phone that arrived this afternoon, I thought, don't worry, icloud has backed it up.  Swapped phone with courier this afternoon and "restore" - Amazing pictures gone!  Rang up apple - "sorry, it looks like it didn't back up after all..."

You were able to talk to somebody who works for apple?

Thank you, I'm still having problems with the speed of my photo stream. Yesterday's photos are sync, but today's are not. I've tried "backing up" my iPhone. It Still did not. My wife's photos stream still has no photos in her folder. We did sign in under her apple ID in the iCloud controll panel. Any suggestions??

You said

I understand that most (over 50%) of PC users are still currently operating with Windows XP, so the investment for "most" PC users is the upgrade to Windows Vista (outdated) or Windows 7 ($120 Home version). so the investment is quite significant... I use a PC on XP at work so i can't get my work-related pics from the iCloud (taken with my iPhone) until our company upgrades all the computers to handle Windows 7, pricey!

my all pic are delete fron my iphone, can i get back them from icloud backup??????????

I can get photos from the PC to the iPhone, but not the iPhone to the PC.  What gives?

there definately is an issue with icloud and pc. sometimes rebooting pc makes photos go into photo stream folder. in control panel i can only open icloud panel once then have to reboot if i want to open again. also icloud syncs to microsoft outlook which will only open once as well then have to reboot to go back into outlook

I see all the troubles everyone is having.  My wife and I are buying a Iphone4S in a few days. I use two Windows 7 pcs at home.
I already have downloaded  the I Cloud  control panel to both pc computers along with Itunes and Safari.  Since I have not bought the phone yet I am unable to start doing anything with I Cloud.

I am new to all of this.
Can someone send me a good step by step by step procedure to follow so I can put vacation pictures taken while in florida so they will appear on my Pcs when I come home? I will download them at home in Michigan.  My plan is not downsize the photos in any way when sent in Florida but do that later at home in Michigan.

What apps are best suited for photos?

Hi.  Thanks for the tips.  I have followed the instructions and they work. But, on my photo stream on the iPhone I have 70 pictures...and after forcing an update on the icloud control panel, I have only 40 of those 70 pictures in the corresponding windows folder and the same number in my picasa suite.  I cannot correlate the timing or any other rationale for why some photos got transferred and others didn't.  Any ideas?  Does anyone else feel like there's "always something" when it comes to Apple...even for those who are fairly computer competent?  :)  Thanks!

:S if i delete a pic from my syncd folder in Windows will it delete from i phone as well?

i  had photos on my  iphone 3gs...i updated the phone and can't see any photos.  then i read a few blogs and found out about a program that lets you view all files on your phone.  so i downloaded the program called iexplore to my pc.  I looked in the folders...Media to DCIM then to 100apple and there are all my photos. so they're there but not in photo stream.  I put them into 2 icloud folders one is upload folder and one is down load folder.  they are suppose to be on icloud and auto sync to ipad and didn't!  I am disgusted.
Also I put them on itunes but can't find photo file on itunes.  i don't get it.  I guess i will be making a trip to the apple store.  they're helpful and knowledgable but the store is mobbed all the time. any help is appreciated.  MC

hi , when i take photos with my iphone 4s the pics go straight to my camara roll and not to my photo stream i have checked all the settings and every thing is turned on HELP !

Hey Tonym65, normally when your iPhone is connected to whichever WiFi network and you get iCloud correctly setup, the pics go into the Stream...which is valid for any i-device,, but of course first the pics have to go from the iPhone to the cloud. hope this helps. Michel

I was exactly looking for this. Thank you so much. Hope it works :) let's do it!

Another note: Photo Stream will only sync the images taken on your iPhone or iPad after you set it up and turn it on. So if you have existing images, they won’t sync.'

All of my old photo's synced up perfectly from my NEW iPad to Windows 7 :)

I am using Windows 7. Had the same problem. I create the exact same folders under \Public Pictures. And I changed the icloud control panel settings. Now it is working.

HI I'm new to the iPad I have W7 on my laptop and have downloaded and installed iCloud for PC I tried to see if the idea worked by dropping some photos into the upload folder, when I then tried to see if they appeared on my iPad2 nothing there! What am I doing wrong?