How and where to find your photos in iOS 8

The familiar Camera Roll and Photo Stream collections are gone, but your photos are still there, just in different spots. Learn how the Photos app has changed in iOS 8.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read

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After updating to iOS 8, many iPhone owners apparently freaked out the first time they opened the Photos app. Judging by various Apple Support pages, people thought perhaps their photos had vanished when they didn't see the familiar Camera Roll album that had housed all of their iPhone's photos in previous iOS versions. Gone, too, is Photo Stream, where you could view the 1,000 most recent photos snapped from any of your iOS devices.

30 tips every new iOS 8 user should know

See all photos

Fear not, your photos are still on your iPhone. The Photos app has a new organizational structure is all. With iOS 8, Apple draws less of a distinction between local and shared photos. They're all dumped in together.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

When you tap on the Albums view in the Photos app, you will not see the familiar Camera Roll album at the top. This absence has caused confusion and heart palpitations among iOS upgraders. In place of the Camera Roll at the top of the Albums list is Recently Added, which contains the photos you've taken in the last 30 days on your iPhone -- as well as photos from any of your iOS devices with My Photo Stream turned on. (Photo Stream is no longer a view offered within the Photos app, but it's still a feature you can enable via Settings > iCloud > Photos.)

But what about all of your iPhone photos that you snapped more than a month ago? Where did they go? They didn't go anywhere, but you can't browse through them as you likely used to.

Even with hundreds of photos on my iPhone, I rarely if ever use the Years, Collections, and Moments views to browse through my photos. I don't like the tiny thumbnails and the dead space between groupings and chose instead to scroll through the consistent grid of larger thumbnails of my Camera Roll. With the Camera Roll replaced by the Recently Added album, to view photos older than 30 days you'll need to reacquaint yourself with the Years, Collections, and Moments views that can be accessed from the Photos button at the bottom of the screen. As with the Recently Added album, the Years, Collections, and Moments groups contain both local and shared photos.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a way to duplicate the browsing experience of the extinct Camera Roll album. You could create a new album and add all of your photos to it, but there are two problems with this solution. For one, you can't select photos until you drill down to the Moments view, which lets you select small groups of photos. I want to be able to grab an entire year and dump its photos into an album instead of selecting small groups of photos moment by moment. And for another, such an album will not catch new photos as you take them.

Sure, I may grow to like the Years, Collections, and Moments views now that I'm forced to use them, but the new organization of the Photos app is already causing problems with other apps. For example, you can't post a photo older than 30 days using the Facebook app unless it's in an album. The Facebook app doesn't let you access the Years, Collections, and Moments view; it restricts you to combing through your albums, where the Camera Roll previously resided. At the present, the Facebook app looks like it gives you access to your old Camera Roll, but it's really just the Recently Added folder. I'd wager that Facebook will address this issue with a future update, but for now your next #tbt post may require you to take the extra step of popping that old photo into an album in the Photos app before uploading it.

For more helpful iOS 8 tips, check out our complete guide on how to use iOS 8.