An iCloud link sharing photos in the Messages app on an iPhone.
Khamosh Pathak

Want to share some vacation photos or videos with your friends and family? There are multiple ways you can share full-resolution media files with people nearby or over the internet.

Share Files with AirDrop

If you’re right next to the person you want to share photos or videos with, and they have an iPhone or iPad, the simplest method is AirDrop.

If you’ve never used it before, AirDrop is Apple’s secure peer-to-peer wireless transfer method for sharing photos and data. It doesn’t require an extra app, nor do you need an active internet connection.

RELATED: AirDrop Not Working? Here's How to Fix It

To enable AirDrop, open the Control Center on your iPhone, and then press and hold the toggles section.

Tap and hold the toggles panel in the Control Center.

Here, tap and hold “AirDrop.”

Tap and hold "AirDrop."

Select “Everyone” and ask your friend to do the same on her iPhone.

Tap "Everyone" in the AirDrop menu.

Now, open the Photos app on your iPhone and navigate to the album with the photos you want to share.

Tap “Select” at the top, and then choose the photos you want to share.

Tap "Select" and choose your photos.

Tap the Share button to open the Share sheet. You’ll see any nearby AirDrop contacts at the top of the list.

Tap the Share button.

Tap a contact or device.

Tap an AirDrop contact.

After your request is accepted, the transfer begins.

An AirDrop request to share photos; your contact has to tap "Accept" to start the file transfer.

Share via Messages, Mail, or Other Apps

If you want to share photos with a contact who isn’t nearby, you can use Apple apps, like Messages or Mail. You can also share via third-party apps, like WhatsApp and Messenger.

With these methods, the quality of the photo transfer depends on the app. If you send photos in Messages, they’re sent in high-resolution format. In the Mail app, you can choose the file size.

Apps like WhatsApp apply heavy compression to photos. If you want to send photos in full-resolution, the Mail app followed by Messages are the best options (we do cover another online service below, however).

To get started, open the Photos app on your iPhone, tap “Select,” and then choose the photos you want to share.

Tap "Select."

Next, tap the Share button.

Tap the Share button.

In the second row, you see a list of apps you can use to share your photo. Tap “Messages,” “Mail,” or “WhatsApp.” In this example, we’ll cover both the Messages and Mail apps.

To send the photos to someone else with an iPhone via iMessage, tap “Messages.”

Tap "Messages."

In the top bar, tap the “To:” field, search for your iMessage contact, and then tap his name on the list. You can add more than one contact if you like.

Tap the "To:" field, and then add a contact.

You’ll see the photos are already in the text field; just tap the Send button. Your photos are sent to the person(s) you selected, and you’re returned to the Share sheet. To make sure your photos were sent, just go to the conversation in the Messages app.

Tap the Send button in Messages app.

To send photos in the Mail app, tap “Mail.”

Tap "Mail."

The Compose window appears with the photos as attachments.

Tap the “To:” field, and then type the email address to which you want to send the photos. To add multiple recipients, tap the plus sign (+). Type a subject and a message if you want, and then tap the Send button.

Tap the "To:" field, type the email address, and then tap the Send button.

A pop-up asks if you want to scale the images down to reduce the message size. It’s best to tap “Actual Size,” as it sends the photos at full resolution. If you think that’s a bit too large, though, you can tap “Small,” “Medium,” or “Large.”

Tap "Actual Size" to send your photos at full resolution.

The “Large” option is the best because it significantly reduces the file size while keeping most of the image quality intact.

Share an iCloud Link

The Messages app only allows you to share high-quality images with other iMessage users. So, what if you want to share them with an Android user? If your device runs iOS 12 or higher, you can do so via the iCloud link-sharing feature.

To do this, open the Photos app, tap “Select,” and then tap the images you want to share.

Tap "Select."

Tap the Share button.

Tap the Share button.

Next, tap “Copy iCloud Link.”

 Tap "Copy iCloud Link."

A unique iCloud link for all the photos and videos you selected is copied to the clipboard.

Open any messaging app and tap and hold in the text box. Tap “Paste” to paste the iCloud link, and then tap the Send button to share the link.

Tap the Send button to share the iCloud link.

When the recipient taps the link, she can view and download all the photos and videos at full resolution. iCloud links are valid for one month.

Use the Sharing Suggestions Feature

In iOS 12, the “Sharing Suggestions” feature was added to the Photos app, and it works via the Messages app. It also works via the iCloud link-sharing system we covered above.

It automatically analyzes your photo library and presents you with albums of photos you can share with your contacts. If you recently took a trip or went out for dinner, you’ll probably see a suggestion in this section (you might get a notification about it, too).

To use this feature, open the Photos app and tap the “For You” tab. Scroll down to the “Sharing Suggestions” section, and then swipe through the files.

An image in the "Sharing Suggestions" section.

Tap a suggestion to expand it. You can then view all the photos in the collection. Tap “Select,” and then choose individual photos if you only want to share a few of those included in the list.

Names are suggested for the people in the photos; when you’re finished, tap “Next.”

Tap "Next."

Next, choose with whom you want to share the photos. Tap “Add People” to search for and add another contact.

Tap the radio button next to each contact; tap "Add People" add another contact.

Tap “Share in Messages.”

Tap "Share in Messages."

This brings up the “New iMessage” screen in the Messages app. The message contains the iCloud link to your photos, with the contacts you selected at the top. Tap the Share button to send the link.

Tap the Share button.

Use WeTransfer

If you need to share more than 10 photos at full-resolution over the internet, it’s best to use a free service, like WeTransfer (you can also use a Dropbox or Google Drive account).

WeTransfer makes the process a bit simpler because you don’t need an account or app. You just select your photos, upload them, and it generates a link that will be live for one week.

To share media this way, open Safari on your iPhone and go to WeTransfer. Tap “Send a File?”

Tap "Send a File?" on the WeTransfer website.

On the next screen, tap the plus sign (+).

Tap the plus sign (+) to add photos.

In the pop-up, tap “Photo Library.”

Tap "Photo Library."

Next, select the photos you want to upload. At the bottom of the screen, tap “Choose Image Size.”

Tap "Choose Image Size."

The default is “Full Size,” but you can tap any of the other sizes to change it.

The "Image Size" menu on the WeTransfer website.

After you choose a file size, tap “Done.”

Tap "Done."

Tap “Next” to go to the next screen.

Tap "Next."

Here, you can choose to get a link for your photos or send an email with the link. For this example, we tapped “Get a Link.”

Tap "Get a Link."

Tap “Transfer.”

Tap "Transfer."

Your photos upload, and you see a link. Tap “Copy Link” to copy the link to your clipboard, and then share it.

Tap "Copy Link."

When the recipients open the link, they’ll see all the attached photos and their file sizes. They can download the photos as a ZIP file if they want to keep them.


If you want to collaborate with or collect photos from other people with iPhones, you can share photo albums in the Photos app.

RELATED: How to Create Shared and Collaborative Photo Albums on Your iPhone

Khamosh Pathak Khamosh Pathak
Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has seven years of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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