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.

iCloud Manager Download Page


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.

iCloud Settings on the iPad

Photo Stream toggle

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.


iCloud Control Panel

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.

iCloud Control Panel - choose folders

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
Photo Stream Album on the iPad

My Photo Stream folder on Windows 7
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.


  1. 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??

      • Do you know if there is a way to get pictures that were already on the iTouch (4g) to a pc? I can’t do it manually because it doesn’t show up as a device on my computer.

    • 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.

  2. 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

      • 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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. =]

  7. 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??

    • Yes, same here. Can’t get photos to transfer from my icloud download folder on my PC to the new IPad. Bummer!

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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???

  11. 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

  12. 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. 

  13. 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????

  14. 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.

  15. 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! : (

  16. 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 best way to save battery. And by the way I feel the radiations coming into my hand by using this piece of technology…

  17. 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…”

  18. 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??

  19. 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!

  20. 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

  21. Hi,
    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?


  22. 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!

  23. 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 phone…it 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

  24. 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 !

  25. 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

  26. 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 :)

  27. 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?

  28. This is why pc fails? Why, because it isn’t a mac? Have you ever realised you can “add” a folder to your pictures folder and actually catalogue your photos (or is this too much like hard work for the hard pushed apple fanboys). Lets face it apples idea of multitasking on the iphone and ipad are “close” an app to use another app! Even my nokia phone i could have several apps open and switch between knowing that when they came back on screen they were STILL open and i wont even start on about apples idea of no java!! Have i used a mac?….yes, did i like it? …no! horses for courses and each to their own.

  29. Actually, the free utility requires Vista or above, so XP users are left in the dark… I have problems downloading my photos with the “USB camera” connection (all other cameras appear as a USB drive…. arg).. but that’s because my camera roll contains screen caps and video files unsupported by the photo apps.

    So I just leave those photos in the phone…. and share on facebook those significant ones..

  30. ciao sono giuseppe,…e xkè quando ho caricato su icloud le foto del mio catalogo campionario,sull ipad sono arrivate tutte ma senza codici articolo,o meglio senza alcuna descrizione che avevano in origine…grazie se poteste aiutarmi…ciao

  31. I have an IPhone 4s and there are pics in the photo Stream but there are not uploading to my PC photo stearm folder. It worked once!
    I have wifi at my house and a working icloud account that is working with doc’s and numbers.

    Can you help?

  32. I am having the same problem as Darrin. My phone and husband’s phone are synching the photostream but they aren’t dropping into the computer. Its really frustrating.

  33. Hi,
    I need to get my photos stored on iPad back.
    I do not own iOS device anymore?

    I think I have been synced the photos with the cloud but not sure. The same with updating to iOS5.
    I have installed the iCloud for Windows, but do not see the photos downloaded back to my windows notebook. Maybe I should turn on syncing somehow or it should start automatically after I run iClpud app and set photo syncing option on?

    If it’s not help, do you have any other ideas?
    For example, could it be helpful if I try to get someones else iPad and login to app store with my account to see my old photo?

    • In iTunes I see I hade made a backup in Dec’11, so I gues I had used iCloud. Any ideas why my photos are not downloading back via iCloud for Windows?

  34. Thank you so much, been trying to get the photostream to work again after it stopped working recently, tried all settings and reinstalled icloud, still no joy until I tried backup on both iphones through iphone icloud settings and it has started uploading photos to the cloud again. Nowhere else does it say to do this. Thanks again

  35. I am all set up on my PC and on my iPad Retina, but I can’t download photos from my PC to my iPad. I can upload from the iPad okay. I am trying to download photos that I import from my digital SLR. Can anyone figure out what I did wrong?

  36. I am running Win 7 and I have tried everything above but I still cannot upload pictures from my PC to Iphone or IPad. My download works fine. Does anyone have any other suggestions??

    • Joan,
      I talked to an Apple tech today and he told me photos cannot be moved from a pc to an iPad via iCloud, only from the iPad to the pc. All devices have to be Apple to go in both directions.

      • Not exactly true:
        any photo uploaded from the pc’s upload folder, can be viewable on an iPhone / iPad in the photo app by selecting the photo stream tab.

        Once you have it on view you can screen grab it “home + power” to store a copy on the device.

  37. […] But often times you want access to many photos. Maybe you take lots of pictures of your food or like showing off pictures of your children or grandkids. Apple makes this easy as well. By enabling PhotoStream on both your iOS device and your Mac or PC, any picture you take with your mobile device will be downloaded to your computer automatically. In addition to immediate backup, your most recent 1000 pictures will be available to view on any of your devices free of charge. courtesy of Apple. The folks over at have a great step-by-step how to for setting up PhotoStream on your PC or Mac. […]

  38. I believe that it will only move picture files them selves. If you copy a folder of pictures into the download folder it does not work. You have to put the pictures themselves directly into the upload folder. I tested this and it seems to be working.

  39. […] 1,462 Times in 725 Posts or iCloud, if you like the Apple eco-system … How To Get iCloud's Photo Stream Working On A PC I have never tried this cos I am given over fully to Apple and the iPhoto integration makes it a […]

  40. I can only seem to sync pic´s from my pc to ipad via itunes, even though i have set up icloud correctly, not ideal as i was hoping to be able to have this done automatically!!!

  41. Hello!

    I think I finally found a solution to this uploading from PC to iPhone problem. Here’s what I did :
    -Install the iCloud 1.0 version (and not the 2.0)
    -Create the folders “Upload” and “My Photo Stream” in Users > Public > Public pictures
    -Check in Properties > Security that full permissions are given to “everyone”
    -Associate these two folders with the iCloud panel (in Photo Stream, options…)

    Then just add your photos to your Upload folder, open the “Photo” app on your iPhone and WAIT. (It sometimes took one minute before a loading icon appeared next to the WiFi one at the top of the screen)
    Normally, when you iPhone has finished loading, your new photo will appear on your iPhone and in the “My Photo Stream” folder of your computer!

    Good luck!

  42. Hell with iPhone 5… biggest blunder of my life wasting my money on f!@#$ thing called iPhone… this bullshit photo stream ruined my life… i should have sue Apple… i cant explain what this idiot Apple did to me… i mistakenly took picture which was never mean to share with any one in the world… this Apple !@# !@#$ ~!@#$% shared it with all every one my family my kids… hell with you Apple.. go to hell… i want burn my this bullshit device now… f!@#$ you is small word… and they idiot did not even provide option to delete that photo… hell with such thing… go to hell… will never in my life recommend to any one of even thinking about Apple’s f!@# products… better burn your money… don’t ever go to near Apple or iPhone…

    • Maybe you should have thought of that before you took the picture lol…. If you didn’t know about photo stream, that isn’t Apple’s fault.

  43. my daughter send picture taken with her phone and sent me pictures to my email using icloud stream on here pnone. it took a while for them to arrive fine. the system said my phone would not work with icloud but a couple minutes later i saw a few pictures. Went to look at pictures and my email disappeared .

  44. This used to work for me on my PC then one day it stopped and has never ever worked since. Any idea how to fix it. I have changed no settings whatsoever!

    • It stopped working for me when the IOs8 was updated on my Iphone about a year ago or so. Any pic I took after Aug 2014 has not sync to the photo stream.

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