How to fix broken iCloud photostream sync on Windows

Symptom

  • Your iPhone is set to back up your photos to iCloud
  • iCloud on your Windows machine is configured to download your photos
  • iCloud isn’t downloading your photo stream.

Fix

  1. Open the Task Manager by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Esc
  2. Click the Processes tab
  3. Click Name to sort the processes by name
  4. Find the Apple Photostreams Uploader and Apple Photostreams Downloader processes. End both of them.
    • In Windows 7, these will be called ApplePhotostreamsUploader.exe and ApplePhotostreamsDownloader.exe
  5. Hold down your Windows key, and hit R to open a Run prompt
  6. Type %appdata% and hit Enter
  7. Open Apple Computer > MediaStream
  8. Delete everything in the directory
  9. Log out of your Windows account, and log back in (or just reboot, if you find that easier)
  10. Once you’ve logged back into your Windows account, open the iCloud control panel again
  11. If the Photos checkbox is empty, check it
  12. Click Options, and make sure the photo options are configured how you want them
  13. Click Apply

In a few moments, your photos should start downloading.

Notes

iCloud isn’t very smart about a great many things. Here are a few:

  • If you changed the location of your downloaded photos, it will redownload what it can, creating duplicates.
  • In the iCloud 2.x days, your downloads and uploads were usually split into a Downloads and Uploads directory, and you could change the directories if you wanted. That’s not true anymore. Instead, iCloud 3.x creates a “My Photo Stream” directory, and sticks your downloads in there. Anything you’ve shared with other people, or that other people have shared with you goes into “Shared”. If you want to push a photo from your computer to iCloud, put it into Uploads


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42 thoughts on “How to fix broken iCloud photostream sync on Windows

  1. I just signed out and then signed in to my icloud app on windows 8 and it started working! No need to reboot or delete anything!

  2. Your method worked for me on Win 7 and iCloud synch for all the photos but not the videos yet, maybe that will take a while?
    I hope I do not have to download the videos 1 by 1 from the icloud.com website that is timme consuming but I also need the storage space in my iPhone 6 plus that is only supposedly 16GB but really less.
    Any ideas if the video does not work?
    I also tried the itune synch with my laptop but not very helpful.
    Thank you very much for sharing this with us.

  3. I don’t believe that iCloud supports video sync. (It hasn’t in the past; I don’t know if anything has changed in the last year.)

  4. I’m running Win 8.1 w/ icloud 4.0.2. I don’t see ApplePhotostreamsUploader.exe and ApplePhotostreamsDownloader.exe
    I have iCloud Photos Downloader
    Should I end this process?
    Thanks

  5. Thank you very much! This works in getting my computer to properly download the photos contained in My Photo Stream on my iPhone.

  6. I tried this along with other fixes and nothing seems to restore the photostream.

    Following the steps here works, until I look in the icloud photostream folder and none of the new photos from my iPhone are there. It was syncing just fine until a month ago.

    When I return to the iCloud panel, the photos box is now unchecked again. If I check it, the “Options” button now does nothing.

    If I follow your steps, or uninstall/reinstall icloud completely, it does the same thing– seems to work, but then returns to the same behavior described above.

    Any ideas welcome.

    Windows 8.1

  7. It didn’t work for me. Now my “Photos” option is greyed out in icloud and I can’t get to my photos on my PC. Did anybody else have this problem?

  8. Thank you for this fix, iCloud will indeed start to redownload the photo stream, but it does so only with relatively new photos (1-2 month old) – I thought the whole idea of this new iCloud drive thing was to save/sync all my photos and videos in iCloud.

    Therefore I would expect to have all my photos (and videos) on my computer, and not only some new photo stream files. Wasn’t that the whole point of the new iCloud Photo stuff?

    What I want: That iCloud Drive does what it says, downloading all my photo and video from the online storage to my computer. Am I just wrong, is this not supposed to work? I have no clue if I have a broken iCloud or if it really is intendet to just have the new photos on the pc.

  9. I am trying to follow this process but only the uploader is listed in the processes and not the downloader. Will your plan work with just the one or there some other problem indicated by the fact that the uploader is not in the list? Thanks in advance for your reply. Julie

  10. Good job thanks for the. Windows 8.1 and this worked for me.

    Open the Task Manager by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Esc
    Click the Processes tab
    Click Name to sort the processes by name
    Find the iCloud Photos Downloader and ICloud processes. End both of them.

    Hold down your Windows key, and hit R to open a Run prompt
    Type %appdata% and hit Enter
    Open Apple Computer > MediaStream
    Delete everything in the directory
    Hit R and type iCloud run I cloud and iCloud Photos
    If the Photos checkbox is empty, check it
    Click Options, and make sure the photo options are configured how you want them
    Click Apply

    All willl be redownloaded

  11. Didn’t work for me – windows 7 and ipod. Now I only have a few photos on laptop icloud directory and they come under ‘Today’, when they were from 3 weeks ago. I just downloaded what I wanted from icloud.com to my pictures library on my laptop. Guess I’ll just use that method.

  12. You are a genius, how in the world did you come up with this solution? But of course Apple should have fixed the prob.

    I have a 64 bit win 7 PC. FYI, there were no applephotostreamsuploader.exe and downloader processes to end, so I just skipped that. When I went to mediastream and tried to delete everything step 8 in the fix instructions) there were two files which would not delete. But it worked anyway.

    Thanks so much. I will be donating my $2.

    No doubt everytime apple issues an update we’ll have to fix this again.

  13. In the task manager, I only have a ApplePhotostreams process running, not any uploader or downloader (which is probably the reason for why my sync is not working)!

    I have checked that the Photo chekmark is actually seleted in iCloud Controlpanel, but, still the 2 processes are not running!!!

  14. No joy. I have the same problem with Windows 7 Pro sync’ing to my iPhone 5s.
    Windows Explores shows “iCloud Photo with a gray My Photo Stream & Activity icon. If I double click the My Photo Stream icon I get a window that states there are “0 photos” with Open Folder link in blue. If I click the link I get a Window with a desktop.ini file. It is at this point that I can drag and drop photos, which I did, but they never show up on my iPhone 5s. I have stopped all services, deleted folders and files as instructed from other posts. Apparently it just doesn’t work well and or at all. I would move to a Mac but I’m a PC tech. I did try creating a “iPhone_xfr” folder on my Window 7 desktop and using iTunes to sync that folder to my iPhone with it connected via USB. It worked but once done I could never add photos or manage the “iphone_xfr” folder on the iPhone.

  15. I got windows 8.1 and this did not work, although it did marginally help.

    Symptoms: In the icloud photos folder, only 5 pictures are visible. After following these instructions, 3 of those pictures changed to newer ones from the photostream.
    The photo stream is fine on my iphone 5s and ipad 1 so it is clear the photos are in the cloud.
    If “open folder” to see the true locations of those photos in windows, almost all my photos are there, but not ones from the period of 10.april to 5. may (2015 for future readers)
    10 of april is of course the day I updated the ios on my iphone 5s to 8.3.
    Interestingly, both my father and grandmother also reported photo stream breaking at the same time, also after they updated to ios 8.3 (they have iphone 5 too)
    One of them had it work again on it’s own (we don’t know how)

    I took 13 photos this morning, 4 of them got transferred after I followed these instructions but no more.

    I have heard similar reports (only 4-5 photos then stop)

    I am the only one in the family who has windows 8.1 so It’s probably something with windows…

  16. Win 8.1 64 bit, iCloud 4.1, photos just don’t get transferred to my PC. Like some others, I can untick the photo-stream option, save, re-tick and save and they maybe, if I’m lucky, one or two photos might come through. Then no more. Since I’m told it all works perfectly on a Mac, I’m assuming Apple aren’t really interested if it works on a PC or not. Yet iCloud bookmarks and contacts, etc. all seem to work ok for me. It’s only the photos which don’t sync.

  17. Well, that was good. I did exactly what you said. One of the things some people seem to miss is sorting the task manager so that both tasks appear – upload and download, though the latter was named differently.
    And it worked.
    And I can fix it again if need be. What a blessed relief and so I was more than delighted to reward you with my PayPal donation. God knows, you have earned it!
    So what else……
    …. not that it matters but in the web application of iCloud on the Pc, the place I use to access iCloud email, Pages, Contacts etc, the photo albums do not include a PhotoStream folder. Of course, that is academic now that the folder on the Pc actually works at last.
    I cannot understand how a firm the size of Apple, manufacturing the most delicious electronic goodies known to man, can fail to address an issue that so many people have complained of on the Internet. They must be deaf, dumb or just plain daft.

  18. I tried everything I could find using search, including this and the apple support site. Nothing works. I’m using windows 8.1 pro

  19. I tried several times to follow your instructions, but I get to AppleComputer and do not find a mediaStream file…so I’m stuck ?

    My ipics have completely stopped uploading to my windows icloud files since Jan 2015.

    Is there anything else I can do?

  20. Hi – tried this option
    Windows 8.1 and this worked for me.

    Open the Task Manager by hitting Ctrl+Shift+Esc
    Click the Processes tab
    Click Name to sort the processes by name
    Find the iCloud Photos Downloader and ICloud processes. End both of them.

    Hold down your Windows key, and hit R to open a Run prompt
    Type %appdata% and hit Enter
    Open Apple Computer > MediaStream
    Delete everything in the directory

    ALL OK TO THIS POINT AND THEN WHEN I DID ‘R’ AGAIN TO GET THE LITTLE BOX, PERHAPS BECAUSE I AM A GIRL I DONT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU NOW NEED TO TYPE.
    I HAVE TRIED ‘ICLOUD’ BUT KEEP GETTING ERROR THAT ‘WINDOWS CANNOT FIND ICLOUD’

    PLEASE ADVISE!!!!
    Hit R and type iCloud run I cloud and iCloud Photos
    If the Photos checkbox is empty, check it
    Click Options, and make sure the photo options are configured how you want them
    Click Apply

    All willl be redownloaded

  21. Great! You’re the only one who fixed my problem which had been going on for quite some time. I was happy to donate 2$. Thanks!

  22. Hey!
    Thanks for your sharing, this worked for me perfectly! It’s Awesome!
    I am now looking for a method to view iCloud photos directly on my computer by downloading all the photos from iCloud backup files via FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery.
    I think it works well too. Now I don’t have to worry about missing some of them on iCloud photo stream because I just make double backups of my photos.

  23. I am now looking for a method to view iCloud photos directly on my computer by downloading all the photos from iCloud backup files via FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery.
    I think it works well too. Now I don’t have to worry about missing some of them on iCloud photo stream because I just make double backups of my photos.

  24. I am now looking for a method to view iCloud photos directly on my computer by downloading all the photos from iCloud backup files via FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery.
    I think it works well too. Now I don’t have to worry about missing some of them on iCloud photo stream because I just make double backups of my photos.

    How to View iCloud Photos??

  25. Thanks! This worked for me. So. Many. Attempts. in the past, and this was a simple way to kick the tires and force it to do what it says on the tin. Finally!

  26. Phew! Thank you so much. Using Windows 7, and about to throw all my Apple products out the window! Finally working! More than happy to donate a couple bucks! :)

  27. Thank you! For several month my Photostream on W10 stopped, and thanks to this article I got it running again!

  28. I have windows 7 & don’t see the uploaded only the downloaded. What do you mean by end both of these? ED

  29. It worked perfect!!
    I have windows 7 and ApplePhotostreamsUploader.exe and ApplePhotostreamsDownloader.exe were not readily identifiable as such in the task manager.
    I was able to identify them by right clicking on the ones I suspected, then click properties, then details and look at original file name at the bottom of the pane.
    After restarting the computer the photo stream down loads weren’t immediately there, but I checked about an hour later and there they were!
    Thanks so much, Pete.

    Ed, after you identify the two photo stream processes you want in the task manager, click on one to high light it, then click the end process box in the bottom right of the pane. Repeat for the other one.

  30. Urgent please. I have a Japanese Student and she lost her iPhone yesterday. She is absolutely shattered. We have finally spoken to a Japanese interpreter to get her onto her ICloud account. All information is there but not the photos. The lady said she could see over 300 photos on her device but we can’t see them when logged into the computer. We have tried finding her mob through there but it is flat. Please are we able to retrieve her photos ? Thankyou

  31. My photostream stops downloading to pc every now and then. Suspecting after ios updates. Anyway, I simply logout and login to icloud settings. Of course must uncheck things I don’t want on new login. I only use photostream up and download. No photo lib. No photo share. Keep solutions simple.

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