Random Iphone photos won't upload to iNaturalist from MacBook

Please fill out the following sections to the best of your ability, it will help us investigate bugs if we have this information at the outset. Screenshots are especially helpful, so please provide those if you can.

Platform (Android, iOS, Website): iOS and Website

App version number, if a mobile app issue (shown under Settings or About):

Browser, if a website issue (Firefox, Chrome, etc) : Safari

URLs (aka web addresses) of any relevant observations or pages:

Screenshots of what you are seeing (instructions for taking a screenshot on computers and mobile devices: https://www.take-a-screenshot.org/):

Description of problem (please provide a set of steps we can use to replicate the issue, and make as many as you need.):

Step 1: I take photos on my iPhone (which uploads images to the cloud, and to the Apple “Photos” on my MacBook Pro).

Step 2: Then I select pictures by sliding them into a new folder one my MacBook Pro desktop, and then upload everything in the folder to iNaturalist. However, in recent days, a few or today HALF of the images I selected, don’t register and I simply get a while background with a red circle inside of which is a while exclamation mark. (see attached image)

Step 3: If I do a screen shot of the photo observation, the image uploads no problem.
If I manually upload a single observation from my iPhone it works.
Like this: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/64170177

Does anyone know what’s going on here? When I tried to upload one of the original iPhone photos here to illustrate, I got the error message (see attached), that says that this new topic couldn’t determine the size of the image?
Any help would be appreciated!

1 Like

Jason, do you do any editing of any of the photos (either on the iPhone or on the Mac) before dragging them into a folder on your MacBook Pro? I ask because I have had some weird problems in the past that only occurred to photos that I had edited.

Another thought: dragging from Photos to a folder in the Finder has different results than exporting photos from Photos (using File > Export > Export Photos…). You might have success using Export if you can’t figure out why your current workflow isn’t behaving.

1 Like

No, I don’t do any editing.

Thanks for the tip, I’ll give it a try and see if that changes anything.

OK doing that works perfectly! See attached 2 pairs of photos. Two on the left are done as you suggest, and the two on the right (the exact same images, having been dragged from Photos to a folder). 2 work, 2 don’t.
So, this works fine, but might be a bit cumbersome when uploading dozens of observations.

I’ve seen multiple problems with images that are dragged and dropped out of Photos either onto the desktop or directly into the uploader (definitely never do the latter). If you want to email one or two of the problematic photos to help@inatuarlist.org we can take a look at them.

1 Like

I agree with @tiwane that dragging pictures out of Photos has various problems. I think the problem here might have to do with the fact that iPhones by default now use a custom image format (.heic) rather than .jpeg. Somewhere along the line these .heic files have to be converted to .jpeg files so that they are recognized by other programs, and I think that just dragging the pictures out of Photos has bugs in this area.

If my guess is right, one solution would be to change the settings on your iPhone so that it always creates .jpeg files instead of .heic files. Here’s a page showing how: https://petapixel.com/2017/09/25/make-iphone-shoot-jpegs-ios-11/

However, there are advantages to .heic files (mainly, they are smaller for the same amount of picture quality), so you might not want to switch back to using .jpegs all the time.

Using Export isn’t cumbersome for me. Here’s what I do:

  • Select in Photos all of the photos that I want to upload to iNaturalist
  • Choose File > Export > Export (n) Photos
  • Choose Photo Kind: JPEG; JPEG Quality: High; Color Profile: Most Compatible; Size: Custom: Max Dimension of 2000 px; Include: Location Information; ignore the File Naming choices; click Export
  • Pick the folder you want to put them into, or create a new folder in this step, and click Export again to confirm

You only have to do this step once for all the selected photos. Also, if the last time you exported any photos was for iNaturalist, it will remember the settings you used so you don’t have to configure anything again.

1 Like

Thanks for taking the time to reply to me with good information. I’ll try the new steps as you suggest.
I’ve also just written to iNaturalist help with a series of photos.
Cheers! Jason


So just following up here, the photos were not jpegs but HEIF files (thanks @sullivanribbit!) even though they had a .jpg in their file name. Not sure what’s going on with Apple Photos, but that’s beyond the scope of a bug report for iNat so I’m going to close this.

See this feature request about adding support for these files to iNat: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/support-heic-heif-images/17549/3