Apple’s iPhone is the perfect device for capturing photos and videos while on the go. Its built-in high-definition camera module shoots beautiful images and captures vibrant movies. But when it comes to sharing the things we’ve shot with our iPhones, the setup is far from perfect. That’s because lots of us still tend to share our iPhone-captured photos and videos using text, email, or social networks like Facebook and Twitter, when a more elegant solution is at our disposal.
Still relying on text messaging or email for sharing photos? You may be missing out on a useful and free Apple service
Batch sharing is laborious; You often feel like you’re waiting forever for text messages or emails containing images to send. And many of us simply aren’t comfortable with posting our personal photos to Twitter’s social network, let alone Facebook’s. Without realizing it, iOS device owners who are content with sharing their photos and videos via text, email, or social networks are missing out on using one of Apple’s most-loved (and most useful) photo management features.
You see, Apple has a far better solution for sharing photos and videos built right into its iOS Photos app: iCloud Photo Sharing. This free feature, which is part of Apple’s wider iCloud offerings, allows iOS device owners to easily share one photo or video, or even a large number of photos and videos, with another person or several people. Let’s take a look at how it works.
Sharing lots of photos and videos at once
First and foremost, you need to enable iCloud Photo Sharing for your device. Here’s how.
How to enable iCloud Photo Sharing
Open the Settings app from your home screen.
Tap Photos & Camera on the main Settings menu.
On the Photos & Camera submenu, turn on iCloud Photo Sharing.
Alternatively, you can enable iCloud Photo Sharing by opening the Settings app, tapping iCloud on the main Settings menu, tapping Photos on the iCloud submenu, and then turning on iCloud Photo Sharing.
And now we proceed to the heart of the matter: how to share photos and videos using iCloud Photo Sharing.
How to use iCloud Photo Sharing
In an album in the Photos app, tap the Select button at the top right corner and then tap the photos and images you’d like to share.
Tap the Share icon at the bottom left corner and then tap the option for iCloud Photo Sharing on the share sheet.
You may need to side-scroll a bit on the share sheet to find the option for iCloud Photo Sharing. Notice that the icon for iCloud Photo Sharing looks a lot like the iOS Photos app’s icon.
If you’re a first-time user of iCloud Photo Sharing, you’ll be prompted to create your first shared album.
Enter a name for the shared album and tap Next. Type or tap the plus icon to add the contacts whom you want to share the album with, and then tap Create. Enter a comment for your shared items (this is optional) and then tap Post.
If you’ve created one or more shared albums before, you can choose to share your selected items right away through the last album you used, select a different album, or create a new shared album.
Tap Shared Album and then choose from one of your existing albums, or tap New Shared Album to create a new album using the preceding steps.
You can invite your friends and family to an iCloud Photo Sharing album using either their mobile numbers or email addresses. You’ll also receive an iOS notification once that person has joined the album and is able to browse its contents. After joining, that person will then be able to view all of the pictures and videos added to that particular album on his or her iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. It’s as simple as that.
iCloud Photo Sharing is a great option regardless of whether you're sharing one image or a selection of images
But wait – there’s more. If, for whatever reason, you’d like to share your pictures and movies with somebody who doesn’t own an iOS device, there’s still hope, because iCloud Photo Sharing also generates a public URL for new albums. This allows desktop users and owners of devices running on other mobile platforms such as Android and Windows Phone to view your album online, in a web interface.
How to share albums publicly on the Web
Go to the Shared tab in the Photos app and then select the album you want to publicly share.
In your chosen album, select the People tab.
Turn on Public Website, whereupon a Share Link option appears to let you share the public URL for the album.
You can also check on the number of people who have access to your album as well as invite new people from the same People menu.
This is a nice addition to iCloud Photo Sharing, as it means that there’s no limit imposed on whom iOS device owners can share their photos and videos with using the feature.
Updating your iCloud photo albums
iCloud Photo Sharing offers plenty of room for maintaining living, breathing albums of photos and videos
Another great thing about using iCloud Photo Sharing is the ability to create and maintain living, breathing albums of photos and videos. You see, once a friend or family member has been invited to join an iCloud album, you can continue to add new photos and videos into that album as and when you choose. All invitees will then be able to check out new additions to your iCloud albums as they’re updated, especially since they’ll receive an iOS notification every time the album host adds new content.
Imagine this: You’re on a family vacation, and you’ve got relations or friends back at home whom you’d love to share your photos with once you’re back. With iCloud Photo Sharing, you can add pictures and movies to a shared album as you go, importing new content and expanding on the album’s contents with each day. You could also have a shared iCloud album set up for pictures of your kid, adding new photos in every so often and sharing a photo life-story with grandparents, aunts, and uncles. For non-iOS users, the URL that iCloud Photo Sharing generates will always show the updated contents of the album.
A shared album can contain up to 5,000 photos and videos. If you’ve reached this limit, you need to delete some photos or videos before adding new ones.
Sharing is a two-way street
You know what’s better than being able to share photos with another person quickly and easily? Having them share their own pictures and movies with you!
When you create iCloud Photo Library shared albums, enabling the Subscribers Can Post option allows invitees to add their own images into the same collection. You can turn on this option in the aforementioned People tab of a shared album.
With the Subscribers Can Post option enabled, multiple iOS device owners can create a collaborative pool of images showcasing a particular event (like a wedding or family vacation). Best of all, all the same great photo management features listed above still apply: notifications for new additions to the album will reach all subscribers, you can continue to add in new photos and videos as you go, and iCloud’s public URL will continue to update with additional content as and when it’s added.
Commenting and liking
Perhaps you’re a fan of Facebook’s commenting and liking features, which allow users of the social network to receive feedback on their photos, videos, and albums from friends and family members. If so, you’ll be pleased to hear that Apple has built a similar feature right into iCloud Photo Sharing.
Support for commenting and liking means Apple’s Photos app could turn into your social image-sharing app of choice
In shared iCloud albums, subscribers can either “like” or comment on individual images. You’ll receive a notification when new comments are made on your photos and videos, and as the album curator, you can reply with your own comments, too. Got a funny story to share about one of your pictures? Sharing it with all your album subscribers is simple, thanks to iCloud Photo Library’s commenting feature.
But don’t forget: Save everything you want to keep
Despite offering users a great feature set, iCloud Photo Sharing comes with an important message:
If you are invited to join an iCloud album by a friend or family member, your access to this album could be revoked at any time.
The album curator might delete the images or remove the album (subscribers can’t remove images, though, so there’s no need to worry about reckless invitees). To ensure that you maintain access to your favorite images shared using iCloud Photo Sharing, you are advised to make a habit out of saving your favorite images and albums to your iOS device as promptly as possible.
To do this, open the photo or video you’d like to save to your iOS device, and tap the Share icon. Then, find and select the option labeled Save Image and tap it. The photo or video will then be downloaded from iCloud and saved to your device. Even if the album curator deletes the photo or video, your copy will remain safe and sound on your iOS device. Phew.
We can’t stress this enough: If you have something you’d like to keep forever, be sure to save it to your iOS device!
The best way to share
There you have it: iCloud Photo Sharing – the best way to share photos and videos on iOS. As we hope you can see, this smart feature easily beats all other photo-sharing options.
Learn more about iCloud and other photo-sharing options
It’s quick, easy to configure, feature-packed, and can even work across mobile (and desktop) platforms. And best of all, it’s free to use. What more could you want?
Although the photos and videos in your shared albums are stored in iCloud, they don’t count against your iCloud storage limit and therefore won’t lead to your having to purchase additional iCloud storage.
Start iCloud-sharing the contents of your Photos app now. For any questions or tips, feel free to comment with them below.