Where are the Photo Stream duplicates stored? A not-so-little directory called iLifeAssetManagement. Thus, if you do not rely on Photo Stream to bring iPhone pictures to a Mac, then you will probably want to turn the feature off, and in doing so you might just save many gigabytes of precious drive capacity in the process. This is somewhat complicated, and is therefore a good addition to the other advanced methods of reclaiming disk space, particularly because it turns off a major feature of iCloud in OS X.
Self Manage iPhone Photos vs iCloud ManagementBefore beginning, let’s define self management for iPhone photos, because that is who this is going to apply to: in short, that means you transfer pictures from the iPhone to the Mac yourself, manually with a USB connection, through one of the various methods of transfer to copy pictures to the computer using apps like iPhoto, Image Capture, or Aperture, treating the iPhone as if it was a regular digital camera. In other words, you do not rely on Photo Stream to get the pictures from an iOS device automatically copied to something like iPhoto on the Mac, and you do not use the trick to gain direct access to Photo Stream from the Finder. This means you do not use iCloud’s Photo Stream on the Mac at all, this needs to be made abundantly clear because this trick depends on disabling the stream feature in OS X.
1: Back Up iLifeAssetManagementManually back up iLifeAssetManagement before proceeding. This is important. You will want to do this because the folder contains pictures, and it’s up to you to find out whether you have those stored elsewhere or not. It’s better to play it safe and back the folder up then to potentially lose photos you don’t have saved already. Manually backing te directory up is just a matter of copying it onto an external backup drive that has abundant storage. This insures that if you discover you did actually use Photo Stream or you did need those pictures after all, you can get them all back quickly.
- Connect an external hard drive to the Mac
- From the OS X Finder, hit Command+Shift+G and enter the following path:
- Locate “iLifeAssetManagement” and copy that directory to the external backup drive
2: Turn Off Photo Stream in OS XNow that you have iLifeAssetManagement backed up (just in case), let’s turn off Photo Stream completely. This is necessary otherwise the iLifeAssetManagement folder will just create itself again after you’ve deleted it.
- From the Apple menu go to System Preferences, then click on the “iCloud” panel
- Uncheck the box next to “Photo Stream” and confirm by choosing “Turn Off Photo Stream”
- Close out of System Preferences
3: Delete iLifeAssetManagement & Recover Tons of Disk SpaceOn some occasions, the content of this folder will already have been removed by the previous step, but it can be faster to just manually delete the folder yourself:
- Back in OS X Finder, hit Command+Shift+G and enter the following path:
- Select the “sub” folder and drag it into the Trash, then empty the Trash as usual
Also, as we mentioned in Step 2, don’t just trash that folder without disabling Photo Stream, otherwise the folder will just recreate itself and repopulate with all the images you deleted.
iLifeAssetManagement = Possible Space HogHow much space does removing iLifeAssetManagement and turning off the Photo Stream duplicates free up? This is going to vary widely per user and how many photos they take with their iPhone, but in my case I freed up 18GB (!) of space. That’s roughly 1/6th of all available storage on this MacBook Air 128GB SSD, just by deleting a folder that I forgot existed, created by a feature I never use.
If you import your own iPhone photos and don’t use Photo Stream, I highly recommend looking into how much disk space iLifeAssetManagement is taking up on your Mac. It’s fairly easy to not notice this ‘feature’, let alone that it’s storing images on your hard drive, until it’s too late and suddenly your Mac is out of hard drive space. Whether that’s user error, or (more likely) because this aspect of iCloud and Photo Stream is just not explained well, who knows, but even the images inside the directory are not easily accessible (go dig around in iLifeAssetManagement, it’s a disaster with each individual image stored in it’s own subdirectory… who on earth thought that was a good idea?), and combined with it eating up a lot of disk space it’s ultimately far more annoying than helpful for those of us who import manage photos from iOS ourselves.
Optional: Recover All Pictures from iLifeAssetManagementBefore deleting the folder, or if you just want to recover the pictures from the backup you made, here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Go to the iLifeAssetManagement folder (the original, or the backup) and use the Finder “Search” feature in the upper right corner, type “Image” and select “Image” from the Kind option in the drop down
- Select all and move all the pictures to another location in a single folder
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