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How to Share Photos and Videos with iCloud Shared Albums?

Previously iCloud Photo Sharing, iCloud Shared Albums is Apple’s photo-sharing feature letting you share photos and videos with friends and families you just choose privately. Up to 5,000 photos and videos can be shared at a time and up to 100 people can receive your share. The iCloud Shared Albums feature won’t cost any iCloud storage, and it won’t ask your friends or families to have an Apple device either. You can use this feature on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows PC and iCloud.com.

So, this is an ultimate and easy guide to iCloud photo sharing, including what it is, how to use it, limits, and solutions when it is not working.

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Part 1. What is iCloud Shared Albums?

In earlier versions of iOS, macOS, tvOS, and iCloud for Windows, Shared Albums was called iCloud Photo Sharing. iCloud Shared Albums allows you to share photos and videos from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac or Windows computer with the people you invite. It is as convenient as any other photo-sharing methods but it is more private as it is only open to some ones you choose.

People can directly view the photos or videos through the shared albums or links without having iCloud photo sharing feature set up on their device. Also, they can add their shots to your shared album, make comments, like your uploaded files, and save them locally.

What’s better, the shared albums don’t cost your iCloud storage though the files are stored in iCloud. Up to 5,000 photos and videos in one album, and up to 200 albums are allowed to share without having to pay for more iCloud storage space. BTW, every album can be shared with up to 100 invites.

Besides photos and videos sharing, you can also use iCloud Shared Albums feature as a way to backup iPhone/iPad photos and videos, as the shared files are still saved to iCloud but will not occupy any storage of your iCloud.

Part 2. How to Set up iCloud Shared Albums?

Before using the iCloud photo sharing feature to share iCloud photos, you need to set it up. It works in exactly the same way on both iPhone and iPad, and you can also turn it on your Mac and Windows computer.

1. Enable iCloud Shared Albums on iPhone and iPad

Step 1. Make sure your iPhone or iPad has the newest OS version. You can update the OS by opening the Settings app, go to General > Software Update. If there is a new update available, follow the on-screen instructions to download and install it.

Step 2. Sign in with your Apple ID.

Step 3. Go to Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

Step 4. Scroll down and tap Photos.

Step 5. Toggle the Shared Albums switch on.

To disable the feature, just toggle the Shared Albums switch off.

2. Enable iCloud Shared Albums on Mac

Step 1. Launch the Photos app on your Mac computer.

Step 2. Click Photos from the menu bar in the upper left corner, and then select Preferences from the drop down menu.

Step 3. Select the iCloud tab.

Step 4. Tick the box for iCloud Photos and the box for Shared Albums.

To turn off the iCloud photo sharing feature on Mac, just un-tick the box for Shared Albums.

3. Activate iCloud Photo Sharing on Windows PC

Step 1. You need to download iCloud for Windows first if you haven’t installed.

Step 2. On your Windows PC, open the Start Menu and navigate to the iCloud folder.

Step 3. Open the iCloud application, and then click on the Options button next to Photos.

Step 4. Check the box labeled iCloud Photo Sharing. Click Done, then click Apply.

Also, you can uncheck the box labeled iCloud Photos to disable iCloud Shared Albums on Windows PC.

Part 3. How to Use iCloud Shared Albums on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows?

1. Create A Shared Album & Add Photos/Videos

On iPhone and iPad:

Step 1. Go to your Photos app, switch to Albums tab and tap the add button +.

Step 2. Tap New Shared Album.

Step 3. Give the shared album a name, then tap Next.

Step 4. Choose people to invite from your contacts, or type an email address or iMessage phone number.

Step 5. Tap Create.

  • If you have shared albums with others or others have shared with you, you can see the shared albums in the Shared Albums section. Tap See All to view more.

Step 6. Now, tap the newly created Shared Photo Album.

Step 7. Tap the Add button +, and then you can select photos and videos you want to add. Tap Done in the upper right corner when finished.

  • If you want to delete a photo or video, you can tap the Trash icon in the bottom right corner.

Step 8. If you like, add a comment to your album, and tap Post. Then, the shared album can be received by the people you just invited.

Note: You can repeat steps 6 – 8 each time you want to add a new photo and video for share.

On Mac:

Step 1. Launch the Photos app on your Mac.

Step 2. Tap the Shared Albums section on the sidebar.

Step 3. Now, you have two options for viewing shared images and videos.

  • Activity: This mode lets you view all recent activity in your shared albums.
  • Shared Albums: This shows you all your currently shared albums and all albums shared with you.

Step 4. Click the Add symbol next to the word "Shared Albums" in the sidebar.

Step 5. Name the album and enter the contacts of people you want to invite. Make sure you use their iCloud contacts, otherwise they won’t view your share.

Step 6. Click on Create.

Step 7. Now, double-click the newly created Shared Photo Album.

Step 8. Click on Add photos and videos in the upper left corner of the window.

Step 9. Select the photos and videos you want to share and click Add in the upper right corner.

  • To delete a photo or video, just right-click it in the Shared Album and select Delete from Shared Album from the list of options. Then, click Delete to confirm.

Note: You can repeat steps 7 – 9 each time you want to add a new photo and video for share.

On Windows:

Step 1. Open your iCloud Photos folder on Windows. Here, you have two options for viewing shared photos and videos.

  • Activity: This album lets you view all recent activity in your shared albums.
  • Open a folder: The other folders in your iCloud Photos library include your shared albums and any regular albums you've created.

Step 2. Open or create a folder where you want to add your new photos and videos.

Step 3. Click the New Shared Album button.

Step 4. Add all email addresses of people you want to share with, and give a name to the album. Then, click Next.

Step 5. Select all the photos you want to add from your computer.

Step 6. Click Done.

Step 8. Press OK and people will receive your share.

Note: If you want to add more photos and videos to this shared album, you can click on the Add photos or videos button to add more. Also, you can delete images from the shared photo album.

BTW, every time you add new photos, people you invited will get notifications automatically. Also, make sure that Subscribers Can Post is turn on so that the people can add photos and videos to your iCloud Shared Albums too.

2. Invite Someone to Your iCloud Shared Albums

During creating a new shared album, you are asked to add the contact information of the people you want to invite. What we want to emphasize again is that you need to use their iCloud Apple ID contact information when you invite someone by email. Confirm the email address, otherwise they won’t get the invite.

On iPhone iPad:

Step 1. In Albums, select a shared album that you created.

Step 2. Go to the People tab.

Step 3. Tap Invite People.

Step 4. Enter the names of people that you want to share this album with.

Step 5. Tap Add.

On Mac:

Step 1. Select a shared album that you created under Shared in the sidebar.

Step 2. Click the People button in the toolbar.

Step 3. In the Invite People field, type the email addresses of people that you want to invite, and then click the Add button + to choose people.

How about the non-iCloud users? You can also share iCloud photos and videos with them.

Step 1. Just create an iCloud shared album as above, but don’t invite a person as a subscriber.

Step 2. Open the new shared album, and tap the People tab at the bottom.

Step 3. Turn on Public Website, then iCloud will create a link to your shared album on the iCloud.com website.

Step 4. Tap Share Link to share that link with anyone you want. And people will view your shared album directly when they click on the link even if they are not iCloud users.

BTW, you can switch on any settings that you want for this shared album. Subscribers Can Post means subscribers can add their own photos to your shared album. Notifications means you get notified when subscribers like, comment, or add photos to the album.

3. Subscribe to A Shared Album

When you receive a notification of iCloud Shared Albums, you need to accept the invitation first to view the shared album.

On iPhone iPad: Open the Photos app > select the For You tab > under Invitations, just tap Accept or Decline to join or reject a shared album.

On Mac: Open the Photos app > select the Activity album > under Invitations, tap Accept or Decline to join or reject a shared album.

On Windows PC: Open the iCloud Photos folder > select the Activity folder > under Invitations, tap Accept or Decline to join or reject a shared album.

4. Unsubscribe to A Shared Album

You can also unsubscribe from a iCloud photo sharing album if you no longer need it.

On iPhone iPad: Open the Photos app > scroll down to Shared Albums and choose the album in question > select the People tab > tap on the Unsubscribe button.

On Mac: Open the Photos app > go to Shared Albums and choose the album in question > select the People tab > tap on the Unsubscribe button.

On Windows PC: Open iCloud Photos folder > choose the folder you want to delete > click Info > when a box appears, click Unsubscribe in the bottom left corner.

5. Like & Comment on Photos

You and the people you invite can like and comment on photos simply tap the Like (thumb) icon. To comment on a photo, just tap the Add a comment to type comments and then Send.

6. Save Photos from A Shared Album

People you share photos and videos with can download photos from iCloud shared album to their devices, and you can also save photos others send to you. Even the owner of the image deletes it from the shared album, you still have the photo on your device.

On iPhone iPad: Select the photo you want to save > tap the Share icon > scroll down to tap Save Image. The photo will now be saved to your device as well as stored in the iCloud Shared Album.

On Mac: Select the photo and video that you want to save > Control-click, then click Import.

7. Remove A Subscriber from Your Shared Album

If you don’t want to share your iCloud photo album with some body, you can remove it from the subscriber list.

On iPhone iPad: Open the shared album > tap People tab at the bottom of the screen > tap on the subscriber you wish to remove and tap Remove Subscriber at the bottom of the screen > tap Remove.

On Mac: Open the shared album > click the People button in the toolbar > select the subscriber that you want to remove > click Remove Subscriber.

8. Stop iCloud Photo Sharing

If you mistakenly shared an iCloud album link, you can stop the sharing. iCloud links automatically expire after 30 days, but you can stop the sharing immediately.

On iPhone/iPad:

Step 1. In Photos on iCloud.com, tap iCloud Links.

Step 2. Tap Edit, then tap the red icon on a photo collection you want to stop sharing.

Step 3. Tap Stop Sharing to confirm, then tap Done.

On Mac/Windows via web browser:

Step 1. In Photos on iCloud.com, tap iCloud Links.

Step 2. Click the photo collection you want to stop sharing.

Step 3. Click the three-dot icon, choose Stop Sharing, then click Stop Sharing.

9. Delete A Shared iCloud Album

If you no longer want to share the album you created, you can delete it. And the album and all photos in it will deleted from all devices of all subscribers and the Public Website too. BTW, subscribers can delete anything that they personally added.

On iPhone iPad: On the Shared Albums screen, tap Edit at the top right > tap the red circle on the album you want to delete, then tap Delete.

On Mac: Open the shared album > click the People button in the toolbar > click Delete Shared Album.

On Windows PC: Open your iCloud Photos folder > find the shared folder in question > Delete it.

Part 4. How to Share iCloud Photos & Videos via A Link?

With iOS 12 or later, you can also share iCloud photos with people via an iCloud link besides through Public Website. Anyone with the shared iCloud link can view the shared albums from you.

Step 1. Go to iCloud.com on your web browser and sign in with your Apple ID.

Step 2. Select one or more than one photos and videos you want to share in Photos.

Step 3. Click the share icon on the top right bar.

  • Choose Email Link to open Mail. A new email window opens with a link to your photo collection.
  • Choose Copy Link to click Copy Link and share the link with your friends. For example, you can send the link via a Messages conversation.

When your friends or families receive the link, it opens up a browser and loads the shared albums directly. But you should note that this way only stays shared for a day. So, to give people more time to view and pick the photos you shared, you are suggested to share an album on your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Windows PC as we mentioned above though the process is quite time-consuming.

Part 5. How to Solve iCloud Photo Sharing not Working?

Before starting iCloud photo sharing or viewing albums others sending to you, you have a list of information to check. Otherwise, iCloud photo sharing not working issue may occur.

  1. If your account is limited to iCloud web-only feature, you can’t create iCloud Shared Albums to share with others. The iCloud web-only feature only lets you access iCloud Drive, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and Notes. To create iCloud Shared Albums, you can upgrade your iCloud account through buying an Apple device.
  2. Get the iPadOS and iOS updated to the latest version.
  3. Your device should be connected to the internet.
  4. Make sure you have signed in with the same Apple ID on each device, so that you can access all your photos and videos on those devices.
  5. Make sure the iCloud Photos is turned on, iCloud Photo Library & Shared Albums are enabled.
  6. Make sure the iCloud photo link hasn’t expired, otherwise the link is not viewable.
  7. Turn off Lower Power mode as this will prevent your photos and videos being shown.
  8. Check the Apple System Status Page to make sure the iCloud server is working without errors.
  9. Contact Apple Support if iCloud photo sharing is still not working after these checks: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201077

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Part 6. iCloud Photo Sharing FAQs

1. How do I access iCloud photo sharing?

If you want to share iCloud photos with others, you need to create an iCloud shared album first. Take iPhone as an example:

Step 1. Open the Photos app, switch to Albums tab and tap the Add button + to create a new album.

Step 2. Give the new album a name, then tap Next.

Step 3. Choose the people you want to invite from your contacts. Make the email address is from their iCloud Apple ID contact otherwise they won’t view your share.

Step 4. Tap Create.

Step 5. Choose this newly-created album and tap Add button to select photos and videos.

Step 6. Tap Done, and then people will receive your share.

If others create iCloud shared albums to share with you, you can view the contents after accept the invitation.

2. Where are my shared albums on iCloud?

If you have shared albums with others or others have shared photos with you, you can see the shared albums in the Shared Albums section on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows PC and iCloud.com.

3. Why can’t I see my shared albums on iCloud?

Chances are that you didn’t turn on the Shared Albums. Take iPhone as an example, you need to tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos > Turn on Shared Albums. Then, go back to the Home screen > open Photos app > tap the Albums tab, then you can see your shared albums.

4. Can family members see my iCloud photos?

Though iCloud family sharing photos discontinued, you can still share photos on iCloud with your families. In the process of adding contact information, you can add your families’ contacts so that they can see your shared albums.

5. Can someone access my photos on iCloud?

Yes. People who are invited can view your photos and videos directly in the shared albums. Even, they can save the photos and videos to their local devices.

6. What are iCloud photo sharing limits?

What file formats are supported by iCloud photo sharing? How many files can I upload to it? You can find answers here:

  • Supported image formats: HEIF, JPEG, RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF.
  • Supported video formats: HEVC, MP4, QuickTime, H.264, MPEG-4.
  • Videos can be up to 15 minutes in length and are delivered at up to 720p resolution.
  • Files shot with slo-mo, time-lapse, 4K videos and Live photos are also supported.
  • Maximum number of photos and videos from a single contributor across all shared albums: 1000 per hour; 10,000 per day.
  • Maximum shared albums an owner can share: 100.
  • Maximum combined number of photos and videos from all contributors in any one shared album: 5000.
  • You can’t upload RAW photos to Shared Albums on your Windows PC.
  • Shared Albums upload a copy of your date, so the downloaded content may not contain the same information as the original.
  • The photos and videos in your Shared Album are kept in iCloud, but they don’t count against your iCloud storage limit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Estrella H.

Estrella H. twitter icon

Estrella H. is a senior editor at Digiarty covering all the latest tech in mobile industry for the better part of the first four years, from iPhone, Samsung to other innovative gadgets. And now she's been dived into data backup and management to keep data safe on mobile devices in the recent three years. Outside the tech, she is a songwriter and loves hip-hop.

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