syncing iPhone photos

Dear Lazyweb, what's the sensible way to synchronize photos between my iPhone and Mac, given that I do not have iPhoto installed? I'm hoping to have a directory, say, ~/Pictures/Phone/, which is bidirectionally mirrored: photos I take on the phone show up there. Photos I place there show up on the phone. Photos I delete from there are deleted from the phone.

If I just let Lightroom launch when the phone is attached, it always pops up the import dialog even if there are only already-imported photos on the phone, which is annoying.

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23 Responses:

  1. that_xmas says:

    I thought that's how the "Photos" section of the iTunes sync did. At least, that's how it works on a PC with an iPod touch.

    You configure a folder in iTunes, and any files that show up in that folder are synced with the device, remove a photo from the folder and it's removed from the phone.

    • jwz says:

      As far as I can tell,that only syncs from Mac to iPhone, not back..

      • arcatia says:

        Maybe setting up Image Capture to dump photos from the iPhone into the Photos directory defined by iTunes would do it? Then you've got Image Capture doing the down sync and iTunes doing the up sync.

        • blech says:

          A friend of mine used to do this, but warns that "photos will vanish from the phone and not sync back up on first sync, becasuse I used to do that, and that would happen". Still, it might be enough.

  2. pmb7777 says:

    Image Capture will download photos from the phone to the Mac, but I don't think iTunes will upload anything unless it's in iPhoto.

    There's an ImageCapture Framework in the 10.4 SDK as part of Carbon. (Ick). The headers mention the PTP Spec. The Image Capture app looks like developer sample code that's been prettied up a bit. The Options dialog, Information tab for my iPod Touch shows a bunch of PTP info.

    Maybe http://libptp.sourceforge.net/ would get you 90% there?

    Hmmm, google finds me a FUSE driver for the iPhone: http://github.com/MattColyer/ifuse

  3. angryparsley says:

    Why don't you just install iPhoto? It doesn't seem worth the effort to set up a custom solution when software already exists.

    • jwz says:

      Because 1) iPhoto is a piece of shit in 30 different ways and 2) I prefer my photos to live in directories that have specific names instead of being sucked into an opaque-blob database.

      • divergio says:

        You have to make some compromises when you get an iPhone.

        You don't have to use it for all your photos, just the ones you want to synch.

        And it won't break the next time Apple updates iTunes.

      • mhoye says:

        It doesn't really dump them all into a database - it hides them all under the iphoto "package" folder, but they're in there under a reasonable sensible heirarchy: year -> DD-Month-YY_import-session -> photos. Modified pictures are kept in a whole other heirarchy.

        Whatever else sucks about iPhoto, the original .JPGs are all on the filesystem and trivially accessible.

        • drbrain says:

          Unless Apple decides to change their mind about that on the next major release of iPhoto (which happened when events were added)

      • edouardp says:

        Each version of iPhoto is better than the last one, so it might be worth checking it out again? iPhoto 09 works well for me (although I've never used Aperture or Lightroom, so I may simply not know what good looks like...)

        And iPhoto can do the iTunes trick now and leave your photos where you've organised them; see http://www.unseemlyraptor.com/2007/12/05/breaking-out-of-the-iphoto-folder-structure/ for example.

      • remonstrare says:

        It's just a pretend opaque-blob database. "~/Pictures/iPhoto Library" is just a directory. It's a special directory that starts iPhoto rather than let you see its contents. I think that's stupid, but it's easily worked around.

  4. blasdelf says:

    I'd like the same thing, except that I don't want to have to plug the damn thing in - I want to sync bidirectionally over the network using an iPhone app. It doesn't even need to support push, just launch it to sync.

    I use Dropbox's app occasionally, but you have to manually upload each image!

  5. pushupstairs says:

    I can't confirm this on pre-Snow Leopard, but if you open up Image Capture with your iPhone connected, on the bottom left there's the little "Connecting this iPhone opens:" area, and one of the dropbox options is something called AutoImporter, which pretty much does what it says.

    The only thing is, it dumps to ~/Pictures/AutoImporter, and I can't find any way to change that.

    • antifuchs says:

      This works in Snow Leopard.

      The Snow Leopard AutoImporter lets you set the destination dir in its preferences (I could run it via "open '/System/Library/Image Capture/Support/Application/AutoImporter.app'"). Beware that it closes when it's done. You have to be really quick with saving the AutoImporter settings (maybe it's easier while it's running and syncing a couple hundred megabytes of pictures).

  6. spike says:

    Two thoughts:

    1. PhoneView. I use it for archiving my SMS conversations, but it lets you access and update photos on the iPhone as well. $20.

    Doesn't offer "folder sync" option, but the product is under active development, and the developers might be interested to hear a cool idea they could implement. Or, if they're like every other developer in the world, they'll tell you to go pound sand, because clearly they already have had all the good ideas that there ever could be.

    2. iPhoneDisk aka Disk for iPhone is a (Mac)FUSE filesystem that lets you mount the iPhone as a disk and monkey around from there. Haven't tried this myself, just started thinking "I wonder if there's a FUSE option..." and googled.

  7. So you did ditch the Pre?

  8. thomtoffner says:

    You're probably not going to like this answer, but I'm going to give it anyway because I think it's a rather nice solution: You do it exactly like you'd mirror a directory between two unix machines.

    When I had an iPhone, what I did is just stuck a cronjob on it that used rsync to mirror the iPhone's photo directory with another unix machine. In my case, it was my webserver, but there's no reason you couldn't make the unix machine in question be your Mac.

    It's been almost two years since I set that up, so I don't remember the exact paths, but it was really, really easy to figure out.

    You are jailbroken, right?

    • jcurious says:

      -plug in iphone
      -open image capture application
      -click on iphone icon then select which application you want to use to grab images off phone ie. lightroom... if light room won't do it, then use image capture
      -open itunes
      -click on iphone icon then select photos, where is says "sync from" select lightroom if it available if not select a directory.

      Note: aperture can be select from image capture and itunes... so if you want a fully integrated solution, and lightroom doesn't show up in image capture or lightroom, then you could try aperture.

  9. pawliger says:

    SimplifyMedia sez it can "Share photo folders or all or part of your iPhoto library." I don't have an iPhone with which to test, and I've used SimplifyMedia to share iTunes music across PCs, and it does that well, and would assume it can do as well for photos. iTunes store reviews for the $3 app are mixed, however. I have had good email conversations with the company over tech issues before, and they were helpful. http://www.simplifymedia.com