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iOS 5.1 Update Adds Photo Stream Delete

PhotoJoseph's picture
March 8, 2012 - 10:54am

If you are a Photo Stream user, you have probably felt the frustration of not being able to delete a single photo from your Photo Stream without resetting the entire thing. Whether it’s an accidental picture of the floor or an embarrassing shot from last night’s party, it was frustrating to see your 1,000 image Photo Stream clogged with photos you don’t want to see.

Today’s iOS 5.1 update adds the ability to delete individual photos. What’s curious though is that it only deletes it from that one device… which in my mind, defeats the purpose of the single stream that all devices tap into. Do I have to delete that photo from the stream on my iPad, Apple TV, iPhoto and Aperture as well?

Read the fine print: “This photo will be removed only from the Photo Stream on this iPhone”

I spotted an iPhoto update today that offers the same capability, so we can only assume we’ll be seeing this in Aperture sooner rather than later. I’d still like to understand better this delete-only-here thing though.

Update on March 8, 2012 - 10:52pm by Joseph @ApertureExpert

On first look, it appeared that photos deleted from the Photo Stream only deleted on that one device (which didn’t make much sense). Then a user noticed that photos taken since the iOS 5.1 update, when deleted from the Photo Stream, offered to delete them from all devices.

Which got me thinking… what if you reset your Photo Stream?

Reset Photo Stream to delete across all devices

So I did… I turned off Photo Stream on my iPhone 4, waited for it to completely clear out (which may not be necessary; someone want to just toggle it off and on and see?), then turned it back on. And as I’m seeing the Stream fill back up, any old photo, now when deleted, deletes across the entire Photo Stream.

These photos will be removed from the Photo Stream on all of your devices!

Still doesn’t clear in Aperture though

Photos deleted on your iDevice don’t delete from Aperture’s Photo Stream, but that’s to be expected. Aperture hasn’t been updated yet and I’d imagine it will need to, to take advantage of this new Photo Stream feature.

That said, I’m quite confused why my iPhone Photo Stream only shows 304 photos now, where before it was at the 1,000 mark. I also recently reset Photo Stream in Aperture (a week or two ago) and I see 412 photos in that Photo Stream. 

Apple Aperture

How about Did they update it to allow deletions? Can’t try it from my iPad. It won’t let an iPad user log in. Maybe it will be the main stream that everything syncs to. I can’t remember if you can even see your photo stream there.



Not as of yet. You can only reset your Photo Stream on iCloud, not view it and therefore not delete individual images. I’d imagine that will change soon though.

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Can somebody check to see if deleting it off the Mac iPhoto will delete from all devices? I’ll try that when I get home.

On the Apple website, there’s a footnote that says that photos downloaded onto devices when it had iOS 5.0.1 will have to be manually deleted. That leads me to believe that any new photos downloaded onto iOS 5.1 will follow the new delete rules.

When deleting a photo stream photo on my iPhone 4S with IOS 5.1 I got a prompt saying that “This Photo will removed from the photo stream on all your devices” I then deleted the photo but it remained in Aperture. Of course turning PhotoStream off then back on again in Aperture shows the correct, up to data, photo stream without the photo I just deleted. I’m assuming that a fix for Aperture will be coming soon, but I wish Aperture would have gotten some update love yesterday as well as iPhoto


Your dialog said that it’d be removed from ALL devices? See my screenshot above… you’re getting a different result? If so, I wonder if that’s an iPhone 4 (mine) vs 4S (yours) difference. Can’t imagine why though.

I’d guess that to see it removed from Aperture would require an update to Aperture. Patience will, I believe, prevail here. But I’m really curious why you’re seeing something different.

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Yes, that is what it said. I took a screen shot to be sure. I don’t see why there would be a difference between the two either.

Can I send you the screen shot from my phone?


Please do… go to your Photos album on the iPhone and send it to me from there, or if it’s already synced on Photo Stream to Aperture, grab it there. Please send the full resolution file and email it to joseph @ apertureexpert — thanks!


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I believe it’s like Glen posted earlier, photos taken after 5.1 can be deleted. I tried to delete a photo stream photo that was taken before 5.1 and I got the prompt in the picture you posted. The one II took after 5.1 said it would be deleted on all devices.

You guys nailed it… photos taken since iOS 5.1 can be deleted across all devices. Interesting.

OK, now I’m going to turn off and back on Photo Stream on my iPhone and see if all photos get handled that way afterwards.

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Yep, that seems to do it… turn it off (wait for it to clear, it takes a while) and back on, and photos can be deleted from all devices. Nice!

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