How to Create an iCloud Shared Photo Library

Apple’s Family Sharing lets you share photos and videos you take on your iPhone. By creating a shared album and then inviting people to view it, everyone can see all your latest snaps. However, this process does not always work properly, which is why Apple introduced iCloud Shared Photo Library in iOS 16 to share photos through a separate library.

For this to work, you use your iPhone or iPad to create a separate Photo Library in iCloud just for sharing. You then decide which photos you want to move to the shared library and which ones you want to keep in your personal library: share them all or select specific photos. You can also automatically share new photos you take with the Camera app.

With a shared photo library, you can share photos with up to five other people. You’ll receive suggestions for sharing group photos that include anyone in your shared library. If you do, the shared items appear in each person’s iOS Photos app, so they’re readily available. Other members can view, edit, favorite, and delete photos and videos in the shared library, and even add their own.

Enable iCloud Photos

Use iCloud Photos

To set up an iCloud Shared Photo Library, you — and anyone you want to invite — need to be running iOS 16, though it’s not yet available in the version that landed September 12. Apple says to expect it “later this year”, but you can play with it if you have the beta.

If you don’t already use iCloud Photos, you’ll need to enable this option. On your iPhone, go to Settings > [Your name] > iCloud > Pictures and activate Sync this iPhonethen give your device a moment to sync your photos.

Create a shared photo library

Create a shared library

Create a shared library by going to Settings > Pictures on your iPhone or iPad. Select Shared library then press the Start setup button.

Add attendees

If you want to add people to your library, tap Add attendees, then enter the name, email address, or phone number of the person you want to add. You can also press the plus (+) to access your contacts and choose people from this list. Review the invited attendees, then click Continue when you are ready to continue.

Choose pictures

You are then prompted to choose the photos you want to move to your shared library. You can choose to move all your photos and videos, those chosen by date or people, or those chosen manually. Choose one of the three options, then press Continue.

Move photos back to personal library

If you selected All my photos and videos, you are automatically redirected to the next screen. If you selected Choose by date, you are prompted to choose a start date for sharing your photos. Faucet Start date then tap a specific date in the calendar. If you selected Choose manuallytap the photos you want to share, then tap To add.


Move photos to share library

Once your photos are selected, you can then preview the library before sharing. Press the Shared Library Preview button, and you can see what will appear in the library. If you want to move photos to your personal library so they aren’t shared, tap the Select at the top, choose photos, then tap Move to personal library at the bottom of the screen.

From the preview screen, you can view both your personal library and your shared library. Press the People icon at the top right of the screen and select Personal library. You can then select any additional photos you want to move from one library to another.

Change display and layout

You can also change the view and layout of your personal or shared library. Press the People icon and select Enlarge to take a closer look or Zoom out for a wider angle. Select Aspect ratio grid to change photos from a square grid to their actual aspect ratio.

Picking out Filtered to display only certain photos and videos based on filters. If you select Show map, you can see the locations of all geotagged photos. When you are done, press Continue.

Invite attendees

Invite participants by SMS or link

From the invite screen, you can choose Invite via messages to send an SMS invitation. You can also touch share link to generate a shareable link that you can send. You can then touch Share automatically to automatically share photos when participants are nearby or choose Share manually only if you want to tell iCloud when to share photos.

Share Library appears

Anyone you invite can use your text or the shared link to join the shared library. They can then choose whether or not to add their own photos to the library. Your shared library will then appear in an attendee’s Photos app.

Switch between libraries

Anyone in a shared library can switch between their personal and shared library from the Photos app. Press the Albums icon at the bottom, then select See everything to view all albums. Press the People and then you can switch between shared library, personal library and both libraries.

Edit your photos

Edit photos

Anyone who can access your shared library can copy, share, add to favorites, or delete a photo. Long press on an image and choose one of these options from the menu. To edit a photo, tap it, then tap the Edit link above. Any participant can then adjust the exposure, contrast, brightness, and other elements of that image.

Manage your shared library

Manage shared library

As the owner of the shared library, you can manage it from Settings > Photos > Shared Library. You can add or remove participants, receive suggestions for photos to add, choose to automatically share from the camera, and remove the shared library.

Jack C. Nugent