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Although Photo Stream is a great feature in iCloud, if you manage your own iPhone photos, it can quickly eat up a ton of disk space on your Mac’s hard drive. How can a wise person ask? Well, it can inadvertently add copies of any photos you already import. This is because Photo Stream automatically copies photos from your iPhone (or iPad and iPod) to your Mac. But if you manage your own photo collection, you also do so, so you make copies that are stored on your hard drive, whether you know it or not, and these duplicates can add up to a lot of storage space. quite quickly.
Where are Photo Stream copies stored? Not so little directory called iLifeAssetManagement. So if you don’t trust Photo Stream to import iPhone photos to your Mac, you’ll probably want to disable the feature, and potentially save yourself several gigabytes of valuable drive capacity in the process. This is a bit complicated so it’s a good addition to other advanced methods to restore disk space, especially since it turns off the main feature of iCloud in OS X.
Manage iPhone photos yourself and iCloud management
Set up self-management of iPhone photos before you start, so that’s what it means: In short, it means you transfer images from iPhone to Mac yourself, manually via USB, using one of the various methods to transfer to your computer using apps like iPhoto, Image Capture, or Aperture. In other words, you don’t rely on Photo Stream to get photos from your iOS device to automatically copy to a Mac like iPhoto does, and you don’t use the trick to access Photo Stream directly from Finder. This means that you are not using iCloud Photo Stream at all on Mac, this needs to be made perfectly clear as this trick depends on disabling the power feature in OS X.
1: Backup for iLifeAssetManagement
Manually backup iLifeAssetManagement before continuing. This is important. You want to do this because there are pictures in the folder, and you need to know if you have them elsewhere or not. It’s best to play it back safely and then back up the folder so you don’t lose photos you haven’t saved yet. Simply back up a directory manually by copying it to an external backup drive with enough storage space. This ensures that if you find you actually used Photo Stream or needed those photos, you can get them all back quickly.
Back up? Ok, it now frees up disk space by decompressing this folder and preventing it from filling itself up.
2: Turn off the photo stream in OS X.
Now that iLifeAssetManagement is backed up (just in case), turn off Photo Stream completely. This is necessary, otherwise the iLifeAssetManagement folder will only recreate itself after you delete it.
- From the Apple menu, select System Preferences, and then click the iCloud panel
- Clear the checkbox next to Photo Stream and click Turn off Photo Stream to confirm
- Close System Preferences
You’ll see that the control panel says something about deleting pictures from your computer, and that’s great, but it doesn’t always happen right away. So, the next step is to manually dig out the folder and restore all the disk space it uses.
3: Uninstall iLifeAssetManagement & reclaim tons of disk space
In some cases, the contents of this folder were deleted in the previous step, but it may be faster to delete the folder manually:
You can also delete the entire iLifeAssetManagement folder if you want, although it is better to delete a subfolder. If ~/Library/Application Support/iLifeAssetManagement/asset/sub/ is up to 1/4 the size of my Mac, the removal may take some time, so let it go.
Also, as we mentioned in step 2, don’t just trash that folder without disabling Photo Stream, or the folder will just recreate itself and repopulate any photos you deleted.
iLifeAssetManagement = Potential space hog
How much space does iLifeAssetManagement free Photo Stream delete and close? This varies greatly from user to user and how many photos they take on their iPhone, but in my case, I freed up 18GB (!) of space. That’s about 1/6 of the available storage on this MacBook Air 128GB SSD, but by deleting the folder I forgot existed that created a feature I never use.
If you’re importing your own iPhone photos and not using Photo Stream, I highly recommend the amount of disk space iLifeAssetManagement takes up on your Mac. It’s easy enough to overlook this ‘feature’, let alone save images on your hard drive until it’s too late and your Mac suddenly runs out of space on your hard drive. Whether it’s user error or (more likely) because this feature of iCloud and Photo Stream is not well explained, who knows, but it’s not easy to even access images in a directory (dig in iLifeAssetManagement, it’s a disaster) one image stored in its own subfolder… who on earth thought that was a good idea?), and along with it eating up a lot of disk space it’s far more embarrassingly useful for those of us who import photos from iOS itself.
Optional: Restore all images from iLifeAssetManagement
Before you delete a folder or just want to restore pictures from a backup you made, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the iLifeAssetManagement folder (original or backup) and use the Finder search function in the upper right corner, type “Image” and select “Image” from the “Kind” dropdown.
- Select them all and move all the images to another location in one folder
It’s the easiest way, but AppleScript provides 512 pixels, which may or may not work for you, it didn’t work in our testing and only happened in Finder in OS X 10.8 (maybe because due to the huge folder size). it’s probably worth a shot if you’ve decided to go the AppleScript route and don’t mind tweaking the script a bit.
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