Personal Computing Photography

Apple Photos Gripe

Who would ever think that Photos App should abandon an edit in progress to import photos from a device using iCloud Photo library with Keep originals on MacOS?

Somebody did. Edits were lost and had to be recreated.

We begin and end most days by taking a photo of the dramatic Dismal Dominion skyline as viewed from Dismal Manor. The Staff finds clouds fascinating and is pleased to have an editing tool that does them some justice. While editing such an image, Staff foolishly put the iPhone 11 on to charge by connecting it to the iMac’s Thunderbolt Dock. Photos abandoned the edit to import something from the phone. But, normally, there is nothing to be imported. Said Apple ID has “Use iCloud Photo Library” enabled. And we pay for extra storage like good Apple dumplings. So, what happened and what was the lineup.


  1. 2022-07-9 Original


I’ll think of some eventually.

Setting the Scene

MacOS and Photos App strive to hide a whole mess of complexity while keeping your photos safe and accessible. To that end, the iCloud distributed file system provides photo storage. Apple Photos can maintain an iCloud photo library. If you shoot RAW, you can have MacOS keep your original RAW files locally. This is the lineup I use. For the last several releases of MacOS and iOS, Apple has been able to keep things straight. The system remembers where an image came from and will not let an image howl round between two mobiles. This had been a big problem in the past, especially with images produced by others and imported for some purpose.


Dismal Manor has an iCloud account. The relevant settings are to allow Photos App to use iCloud.

Relevant Dismal Manor iCloud settings

Photos App

Photos App settings are pretty simple. The ones we use are

System Photos library settings

And the Photos specific iCloud settings are

Monterey Photos iCloud settings

Dismal Manor uses Mylio Photos along with Apple Photos to have available full resolution images outside the Apple Photos applibrary. The App Library is an opaque container whose contents require a working Apple Photos for access. Image assets are relatively precious so I like to have them saved independently of Apple software for long term retention. An earlier post introduces Mylio and how Dismal Manor uses it.

Mobile Settings

iOS has some settings related to Photos. These are in the Photos settings pane and include a switch for iCloud photos (on). A switch for optimize iPhone storage (on), a switch for Download and keep originals (off).

Intended storage outcome

  • iCloud has all images
  • iCloud has full resolution images
  • Photos has all images
  • Photos has full resolution images
  • Mylio has archival copies of all full resolution image originals and edit previews.

So What Happened

Dave was in the middle of the daily editing session when he remembered his phone had not been charged last night. He connected the phone. Apple Photos took us over the rainbow from here

Apple Photos editing session using Skylum Luminar Neo

to here in beautiful OZ, the iPhone import dialog.

Over the rainbow

As you can see, open iPhoto for this phone is off. We shouldn’t come here but we do every time this phone is plugged in. I suspect it has to do with some confusion about whether live photos are photos or videos (they are actually 3 second video clips).

What Dave Expected

Anyway, I lost my edits. Apple Photos did not ask if I wanted to abandon my edits. It just hit the silk to begin an unneeded import sessions. With iCloud photo library enabled, there should have been no import as the phone had already saved images to iCloud and the iCloud distributed file system should make the images appear when needed (iMac mounts iCloud DFS).

Dave thinks of iCloud as being like Carnegie Mellon Andrew File System. Items are copy on write and appear as needed and sync at the next opportunity. What it really does is a mystery.

By davehamby

A modern Merlin, hell bent for glory, he shot the works and nothing worked.