Whether you want to share photos with one friend or dozens of friends, set up a collaborative album where everyone can dump vacation photos, or even share your album with the whole world, iCloud Photo Sharing makes it easy to share your photos right from your iPhone or iPad.

Turn On iCloud Photo Sharing

RELATED: Banish iCloud Storage Nagging with Google Photos

First things first, you need to turn on iCloud Photo Sharing. The best thing about iCloud Photo Sharing, by the way, is that even if you don’t regularly use iCloud for backing up all your photos and videos—because, perhaps, you followed our tutorial on banishing iCloud’s constant nagging about storage upgrades and now use Google Photos—you can still enable photo sharing for the photos you want. The free iCloud storage is palatial in size if you’re only using it for photo and video sharing and not a total backup.

To check on the status of iCloud Photo Sharing open up the Settings app on your iOS device. Select “iCloud” from the main menu.

In the “Apps Using iCloud” section, tap on “Photos”. You’ll note that our entry currently says “Off” because we’re not using any of the iCloud photo features—this will change in a moment.

Here, in the Photos menu, ensure that “iCloud Photo Sharing” is toggled on.

As we noted above, you don’t need to enable iCloud Photo Library or My Photo Stream to use iCloud Photo Sharing, so even if you’re a free iCloud user with the basic free storage, you can still take advantage of iCloud Photo Sharing with room to spare. Now that we’ve enabled iCloud Photo Sharing, let’s turn our attention to creating and populating our first album.

Create and Share Your Album

When it comes to sharing your photos with iCloud Photo Sharing, you can’t simply grab an existing album on your iPhone and share it—you need to create a specific album for the purpose through the sharing menu. To do so open up the Photos app and click on the “Shared” cloud icon down in the lower toolbar.

There’s a tutorial screenshot in the screenshot for the tutorial. Screenception.

RELATED: Share Apps, Music, and Videos with Apple Family Sharing on iPhone / iPad

The default view when you tap the “Shared” icon is the iCloud Photo Sharing “Activity” log. If you’ve never used iCloud Photo Sharing before, this section will either be totally blank or if you’ve turned on Apple Family Sharing at any point in the past, you’ll see some minor activity indicating there was a shared “Family” album created and the members of your family were added to it.

Either way, this activity log probably looks a bit barren, but don’t worry, it will prove to be a pretty useful place once you use this more often. For it to be useful, however, we need to create and populate our first shared album. To do so, tap on the blue “Sharing” link in the upper left corner.

Here, in the “iCloud Photo Sharing” menu, you’ll see a view that looks almost identical to the general Albums view in Photos. Looks pretty barren in here. Let’s fix that by adding a new album. To do so, tap on the plus sign in the upper left corner.

Enter a title for your photo album (with an emphasis on short and descriptive). We’re pretty crazy about our cute pets at our household, so we’ll be creating an album called simply “Pet Photos” to post pictures of our pets. Click “Next” to continue.

Next, you can add other iCloud users to your shared photo album by entering their contact names here, either by typing them in or selecting them from your Contacts list with the plus sign icon. By default, everyone you add will have the ability to not only view but contribute to the album (we’ll show you how to manage these settings in the next section of the tutorial).

You don’t have to add people just yet, if you don’t want to, by the way. In fact, if you wanted to first populate the album with a bunch of pictures and then add in your friends and family so they could look at the already packed album right from the get-go, you can wait and easily add them later. Either way, click “Create” to finish the album creation process.

Select your freshly created album to add the first photos.

Click on the gray square with the blue plus sign to add your first photo.

You’ll be kicked over to your photo roll where you can select as many photos as you want to add to your new album by simply tapping them so a check mark appears on them, as seen below. Click “Done” when you’re ready to add them to the album.

In a final step, before you add the photos to the album, you’ll have the option of adding a caption to them. You can either add the caption or simply press “Post” to finish the process.

The photos will now appear in the new album, and if you click on them, you can both take a closer look as well as see any comments attached to the photos. Here you can see the starter comment on the photo we just uploaded.

In addition to adding photos from within the shared album, as we just did, you can also send photos from anywhere else in iOS (your regular photo roll, other camera apps, etc.) using the iOS Share Sheet function. Just click on the Share button, seen below.

Then select “iCloud Photo Sharing”.  It’ll pop up the same iCloud Photo Sharing screen we just used with a small additional option. While it defaults to the last album you used, you can tap “Shared Album” to choose a new shared album, if need be.

Before we leave the basic iCloud Photo Sharing setup, it’s time to take a quick peek back at the previously barren “Activity” log by tapping on the “Shared” icon in the Photos app again.

Activity! In the log! From now on, everything that happens with our shared albums will appear here, like a little photo report live blog. Now, you can easily keep track of everything going on with both the albums you’ve shared with friends and the ones they’ve shared with you.

Managing Your Shared Album

If you ever want to make any changes to the album (adding and deleting photos aside), you’ll need to jump into the “People” menu to manage it. You can do so by opening any shared album and clicking on “People” at the bottom, like so.

Here, you can adjust a variety of settings related to your album. If you want to invite more people you can tap “Invite People” and enter there contact name, just like we did when we first set the album up. You can also click on existing members and remove them. and toggle “Subscribers Can Post” on or off. This will allow your invitees to post images to the album. And you can turn off notifications if you don’t want them.

You can also, if you wish to share the album with people who are not iOS users, toggle on “Public Website” to generate a obfuscated URL that you can then share with anyone. While obfuscated with a string of random letters and numbers in the address, there is no login required to access it, so you’ll no longer have direct control over who sees the album (someone you share the link with could share that link with anyone else, for example).

Finally, you can delete the entire album by clicking “Delete Shared Album”. This will not delete your photos from their original locations but it will delete the album from iCloud.

That’s all there is too it! With a little effort you can easily share your photos with friends and enjoy real time notifications, comments, and a sort of pseudo-social-media experience from right within the Photos app.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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