The only way to access your images on macOS is via the iCloud.com Web app: and that kind of sucks.

Of course, if it's just the most recent images you want to see on your Mac, you can always view your Photo Stream on iPhoto, but if you'd prefer not to open iPhoto every time you want to view, download, or share the latest picture from your iOS device, there's an easier way: Myphotostream.

This little $7 OS X app (on sale for $5 over the holidays) lets you view hundreds of images or 30 days' worth of photos in a simple window; you can then preview any of them by double-clicking or tapping the spacebar with a photo selected, share them, or send them to another app for editing. You can also drag an image directly to the desktop or any folder to save it, and there's even a Notification Center widget available!

Here's how to download Photo Stream images on your Mac without iPhoto!

How to use Myphotostream to view and download Photo Stream images on your Mac

  1. Launch Photos from your homescreen.
  2. Click Photos in the upper right corner.

  3. Click Preferences.
  4. Click My Photo Stream to make sure that feature is enabled.

This will now allow you to import your recent photos from devices without an iCloud Photo Library, and send new photos to the My Photo Stream album on those specific devices.

After you have downloaded and enabled Myphotostream, wait a couple of minutes for your images to appear from your Photos.

You can get Myphotostream from the company's website. You can either pick up a 30-day free trial or buy on-site for $5.

The free way to view and download Photo Stream images without iPhoto

If you'd rather avoid paying for a Photo Stream application, there are a few alternatives you can look at.

Option one: Manually copy images using Automator

Just like your Photo images, your Photo Stream repository has a physical location on your Mac's hard drive.

If you go to the Finder and select Go > Go to Folder or Command-Shift-G, then paste in ~/Library/Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/assets/sub, you'll arrive at the folder containing all Photo Stream images. The problem? Each image is in its own folder, which makes things a wee bit tricky when it comes to finding and copying pictures.

Chris Breen of Macworld came up with a pretty nifty Automator workflow that copies images to a folder of your choice, but it does require a little bit of time to build the workflow. (Serenity Caldwell)

Option two: Don't use Photo Stream

Yes, I know — for an article about Photo Stream, this is a weird one. But it is a valid point: There are several other alternatives that provide automatic upload of your iOS and Mac images to the cloud, including Dropbox. (Serenity Caldwell)

If you want to make sure your images get properly backed up and wind up easily accessible on any device you choose, Dropbox might be just the ticket.

Another fantastic option would be Google Photos which makes scrolling through, accessing and organizing your hundreds of images easy peasy (plus it's 100% free), along with Google Drive, which you have to pay for if you need a wee bit of extra space, but overall it's worth it if you're not a pro photographer.

What do you think?

Are you someone who just likes to keep it simple and stick to iCloud, or do you think you'd prefer a service like Myphotostream in the long run?

Let us know what your preferences are in the comments below!

Updated November 2017: This article has been updated with the most current, up-to-date information.

macOS High Sierra

Main

macOS Sierra