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Issue #425: September 13–19, 2015

Q: Can you tell me how to delete unwanted pictures from Photo Stream? I want to keep some, but there are soooooo many I don’t want to keep and they are just eating up space on my iPad because I can’t figure out how to erase them at this end. Thank you.

– Sue S.
Niceville, Florida

A: You have run into one of the “gotchas” of the modern electronic world: information overload. The ever present nature of our smart devices means that we almost always have a camera handy, making it easy to capture all of life’s little moments. However, unless you’re diligent in doing your housekeeping, you can find yourself in a digital version of the TV show “Hoarders”, where you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of pictures you have. It can be virtually impossible to find anything in them, and as you said, left on the device, they simply consume storage space.

Maybe it’s just my opinion, but I find large numbers of files are easier to manipulate on a computer with a mouse and keyboard, than on a tablet or smartphone. You said in your contact info that your computer is running Windows 7. That means you should have access to a nice little tool called the Windows Picture Import Wizard. Unless someone has turned-off Autoplay on your computer, it will automatically launch whenever you plug your iPad into your computer via a USB cable. If it doesn’t launch, or if the launch of iTunes interferes with it, you can start it manually. Without disconnecting your iPad, close out any other windows that came up when you plugged in your tablet. Now open Explorer (the former My Computer) and find the iPad in the list of attached devices. Right-click it. In the menu you should see either “Open as Portable Device” or “Import pictures and videos”. If you see the former, select it, and the icon for the device will change. Now when you right-click the device you should see “Import pictures and videos”.

The import wizard does much more than simply letting you move the pictures from the external device to your PC. It allows you to name pictures or groups of pictures, and sort them into subdirectories. It can even do a reasonable job of automatically grouping pictures of individual events based on when they were taken – the idea being that pictures taken one after another, or within minutes or hours of each other are probably from the same event. All this is adjustable in the wizard, and you can choose whether the pictures are removed from the external device when they are imported, or left in-place. It’s tempting to leave them in place until you’re done, but be careful! You can easily wind up with duplicate pictures, and double the size of the mess you were trying to clean up. I recommend starting out by choosing just a couple of pictures, apply a name template and grouping options to them, turn the delete option off, and then perform the import operation to see if it’s going to do what you expect. If not, tweak it, and try again. Once you have it working the way you want to, pick larger groups of files. It’s still going to take some time to go through the thousands of pictures you probably have accumulated, but I’ve found that the wizard makes it much easier. Plus, you don’t have to hold your iPad the whole time! Good luck.

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