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How to use free app PhotoCal to sort iPhone photos

PhotoCal is a free iOS app that provides a useful calendar view of the photos in your Camera Roll and Photo Stream. It's handy for finding an old photo in a large library.

Matt Elliott Contributor
Matt Elliott, a technology writer for more than a decade, is a PC tester and Mac user based in New Hampshire.
Matt Elliott
2 min read
Matt Elliott/CNET

If you have thousands of photos on your iPhone, then you have likely spent more time than you care to scrolling through your Camera Roll, looking for that one photo you'd like to view or share.

To aid your search efforts, free app PhotoCal sorts your photos, putting them in a calendar view, which lets you quickly jump back to a specific day or week or month in the past.

When you first launch PhotoCal, the app asks to allow it to know your location. If you do, you will then be able to use the mapping feature in the app, which shows you the locations of your photos. Next, the app loads the photos on your phone and those in your Photo Stream. The app doesn't copy or move any files, so the process is quick. On my iPhone 3GS, it look less than a minute to load 1,111 photos.

After it finishes loading your photos, the app gives you three different viewing options.

You can view by Albums, which mimics the iPhone's native Photos app, although with a banner ad at the bottom of the screen. You can browse thumbnails of your Camera Roll, Photo Stream, and any albums you have created. Once inside an album, you can swipe through full-size photos. And when viewing a photo, tap the Map button in the upper-right corner and you'll be taken to a Google Map with a pin dropped on the location where the photo was taken. Other than looking up GPS coordinates, PhotoCal is strictly a photo-viewing app. You can't, for instance, edit or delete photos from within the app. To sync the app to grab new photos or remove deleted photos, go to the Albums view and pull down.

Matt Elliott/CNET

The Month view shows you a list of months, which a number indicating how many photos are included in each month. Tap on a month to view thumbnails.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Lastly, the Calendar view shows you a grid of each month, with a tiny thumbnail of the last photo taken for each day. Tap on a day to see a scrollable list of photos below the calendar. Both the Month and Calendar views include photos from your Camera Roll and Photo Stream.

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If you want to get rid of the ad at the bottom, it'll cost you 99 cents. Just tap the gear icon in the upper-right corner for a link to upgrade. In addition to removing the ad, the upgraded app also includes videos and adds a passcode lock.

Lastly, the developer warns in its description of the app that because it uses GPS, PhotoCal could drain your iPhone's battery. This is one app you might want to force quit when not in use.