iOS 5.1: Deleting Images from Photo Stream [Updated]

| TMO Quick Tip

Apple put a big smile on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch user’s faces when it released iOS 5.1 with its ability to delete images from Photo Stream, and an equally big smile with the surprise introduction of iPhoto for iOS. While you’d think the two would work together, you’d be sadly mistaken.

Use the Trash button to delete single images from Photo StreamUse the Trash button to delete single images from Photo Stream

To delete images from Photo Stream, you’ll have to pay a visit to the Photos app. Once there, tap the Photo Stream tab, select an image, and then tap the trash button. Alternately, you can tap the Sharing button before selecting an image, and then choose multiple photos to delete at the same time.

Deleting images you from Photo Stream on an iOS device, however, doesn’t work exactly as you expect if they were captured before upgrading to iOS 5.1 — meaning the process deletes images only on the device you’re currently using instead of removing them from Photo Stream on all your devices. That, by the way, doesn’t feel very Photo Streamy to me.

Use the Share button to delete multiple images from Photo StreamUse the Share button to delete multiple images from Photo Stream

You can delete Photo Stream images across all your devices on your Mac, too, from iPhoto ‘11 9.2.2. Once there, you can view your Photo Stream image collection and delete the pics you don’t want, and they’ll disappear from your iOS devices, too. Just like your iOS devices, images added prior to iOS 5.1 and iPhoto 9.2.2 will delete only from your Mac.

Now back to why you need to use Photos instead of iPhoto on your iPhone or iPad to manage images. My best guess is that Apple is actually eating its own dog food by restricting iPhoto to image editing, just as it does with third party apps: they don’t get to manage your photo library, either.

[Updated with even more details about deleting pics from Photo Stream, and some clarification, too.]

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Starting with photos taken after updating to IOS 5.1, deleting them from PhotoStream removes them from all IOS devices using the same Apple ID. Photos taken pre 5.1 are excluded for some reason.


Not necessary to go to Mac and launch iPhoto ‘11 9.2.2
With update, everything synced will automatic delete on all devices.


Concur with Rick, and verified: photos taken before the iOS 5.1 update are only removed from the photostream on the device, but remain in icloud and other devices. Photos taken on iOS 5.1 are deleted from iCloud and other devices.

What I did:
1) import all photostream photos into iPhoto (mine is automatic via iPhoto preferences)

2) go to; reset photo stream

3) go to each iOS device and turn photo stream off then on

4) verify on iOS that the photostream is empty; you should see an icloud splash screen (note that on my original iPad the pic frames were apparently still in the cache of the photos app-wierd, and I had to manually select/delete the pics). This also fixes the issue where my photos remained in the stream past 30 days.


on iOS: Just noticed that if I take a pic using the lock screen camera feature or the “take photo or video” feature in messages, the pic does not get pushed to photostream! Great for those indiv’s that take that random photo that only has short term value.

Jeff Gamet

OK, gang, I just updated this tip with more details about deleting pics from Photo Stream. Hopefully the process is a little clearer now.


help me out here folks. this isn’t really my scene. I’m on an iPhone 3GS, just updated to 5.1.1…
so if I delete pictures off my photostream, do they delete off my iCloud as well?

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