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iOS 16 adds an iCloud Shared Photo Library to make sharing photos with your friends and family easier than ever. You can create a shared library and then invite any of your friends with an Apple product to view photos, contribute photos, and edit photos.

iOS-16-iCloud-Photos-Guide-Feature.jpg

This guide covers all of the features that you need to know about to use iCloud Shared Photo Library when iOS 16 launches in September.

Creating a Shared Photo Library

After updating to iOS 16, you can set up a Shared Library either through the pop-up interface or through the Set-Up option in the Settings section of the Photos app.

icloud-shared-photo-library-setup.jpg

Tap on "Add Participants" to select people to share with, inviting them through Messages or through a link.

icloud-shared-photo-library-invitation.jpg

You can choose the images that you want to add to the Shared Library from your own iCloud Photo Library. Options include sharing all photos and videos, photos and videos by person or date, or manually selected photos.

icloud-shared-photo-library-library-view.jpg

You can then preview the content that you've added to the Library before opting to share everything. If it all looks good, tapping on the "Continue" button will create the shared library.

For those who do not have an iPhone or who prefer to work on a Mac or iPad, iCloud Shared Photo Libraries can be created on devices running iPadOS 16 or macOS Ventura as well. On the iPad, the setup can be done by following the iPhone instructions, and on Mac, a Shared Library can be created by opening up the Photos app, selecting "Settings," and then choosing the "Start Setup" option.

iCloud Shared Photo Library Capabilities

Each person invited to participate in an iCloud Shared Photo Library can add, edit, caption, favorite, and delete photos, just as if it were their own photo library. There are no limitations, and all participants have the same permissions.

You can opt to get a notification when someone deletes images from the shared library, with the toggle available in the Shared Library heading in the Photos section of the Settings app. When an image is deleted, the person who originally shared the image has the option of moving the image to their personal library rather than having it deleted, and deleted images are stored in the Recently Deleted folder for easy retrieval.

icloud-shared-photo-library-delete-1.jpg

All tags, metadata, and location information remain accessible on photos added to an iCloud Shared Photo Library, but albums do not transfer over.

iCloud Shared Photo Library Limitations

You can share an iCloud Photo Library with up to five other people, so six people in total can use one library. The person who creates the iCloud Shared Photo Library will be the "host," and their iCloud storage space will be used for the shared photos. You are limited to one iCloud Shared Photo Library and cannot participate in multiple libraries.

icloud-shared-photo-library-limitation.jpg

It's worth noting that when you add your personal photos from your library to the shared library, the images are moved from the personal library to the shared library, so iCloud storage space/device storage space is not taken up twice and photos are not duplicated. If you have Optimize Storage turned off, your device will download a copy of all shared photos so you can make a backup on a Mac if desired.

Sharing Photos From Camera

If you're at an event with someone who you share a library with, you can opt to share photos from the camera directly to the library, making all of your shots instantly available to all participants.

icloud-shared-photo-library-share-from-camera.jpg

In the Camera app, you can tap the icon that looks like two people to swap between automatic uploading to the shared library and your personal library.

icloud-shared-photo-library-camera-app.jpg

Sharing Options

Sharing can be enabled when participants are nearby using Bluetooth proximity, through the Camera app, or manually, with options available in the Settings app.

icloud-shared-photo-library-add-images.jpg

The iPhone will also suggest content to share in the For You section of the Photos app, but you can turn it off if you want.

With the Settings app, you can turn off Sharing from Camera altogether to get rid of the toggle, or you can opt in to Sharing Automatically, which will automatically add all photos you take to the shared library. The automatic feature uses Bluetooth to determine when someone you share a library with is nearby, and it only uploads when you're with that person.

There's also an opt-in "Share When at Home" feature that always adds photos and videos from the Camera even when other participants are not there.

If you want to upload every photo that you take to the shared library even when not at home or not with a person you share with, there does not appear to be an option for it.

Swapping Between Personal and Shared Library

To swap from your main iCloud Photo Library to your Shared iCloud Photo Library, you can tap on the three-dot icon in the upper right of the Library view in the Photos app.

icloud-shared-photo-library-selection.jpg

From there, you can elect to see your Personal Library, your Shared Library, or both at once.

Deleting a Shared Library

If you are the person who manages the Shared Library, you can opt to delete it in the Settings app. Just go to Photos > Shared Library > Delete Shared Library.

delete-shared-library.jpg

When a Shared Library is deleted, each person who contributed to the library will be able to keep the photos that they added or a copy of all the photos that were in the library at the time that it was deleted.

Shared Memories

Photos from the shared library will show up in Memories, Featured Photos, and the Photos widget.

Merging iCloud Libraries

Every person who participates in a Shared Library can upload their entire selection of photos and videos to the library, allowing both people to ultimately have the same images on their devices.

In this situation, if there were already shared photos sent by AirDrop or other means, the built-in iOS 16 "Duplicates" feature will detect the extra images and will provide you with an option to remove them. Duplicates are not removed automatically.

You can open up the Photos app on the iPhone and scroll down to the "Utilities" section to access the Duplicates album to merge photos in the Shared Library.

Device Requirements

iCloud Shared Photo Library requires iOS 16, iPadOS 16, or macOS Ventura. On devices running earlier versions of iOS or macOS, iCloud Shared Photo Libraries will not be visible or accessible. If you move your current photo library to a shared library, it will no longer be accessible on older devices.

icloud-shared-photo-library-ios-15.jpg

On unsupported devices, you will see these message: "To access all your photos, update this Mac to the latest version of macOS" or "To access all your photos, update this iPhone to the latest version of iOS."

Guide Feedback

Have questions about iCloud Shared Photo Library in iOS 16, know of a feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Article Link: iOS 16 iCloud Shared Photo Library: Everything You Need to Know
 
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rick987611

macrumors regular
Oct 28, 2008
124
119
ill stick with a shared album that doesn't count against my icloud storage limit, thanks
For what it’s worth this is saving me and my wife tons of space. 90% of our photos were duplicated. Shared library detects these and they only count against one users storage now.
Also, these are full quality. The old style shared albums severely degraded quality.
 

Bhy

macrumors newbie
Sep 12, 2012
12
12
Dumb question: what if I want to save the pic in the shared library and my personal library? I think the shared library is supposed to be the original pic, but I want to use both?

Thinking this would be easier to share travel pics with the same group of friends that I always share with.
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors G4
May 30, 2002
11,260
5,489
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for sharing Apple's documentation.

MAJOR issue:
Apple's photo library currently has alias' pointing to the actual photo in YOUR library.
Allowing others to delete from SHARED library without SPECIFICALLY being clear if deleted photo from someone else does NOT affect the original photo from YOUR library is a terrible oversight!
 

DeepIn2U

macrumors G4
May 30, 2002
11,260
5,489
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
For what it’s worth this is saving me and my wife tons of space. 90% of our photos were duplicated. Shared library detects these and they only count against one users storage now.
Also, these are full quality. The old style shared albums severely degraded quality.
So only 1 of your storage will be affected by tons of space used then right?
 
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Mike Boreham

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2006
2,946
1,073
UK
My wife and I started using Adobe Lightroom Cloudy a few years ago so that we could automatically have a common library of our photos and edits on all our devices. I will probably come back to Apple Photos when iOS16/macOS13 is available on all our devices.

The new Shared Library is certainly not for everyone, and doesn't replace shared albums, but there are a lot of people like me who are really looking forward to this, and have been missing it for years.
 
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ziggie216

macrumors 6502
Jul 14, 2008
407
233
Dumb question: what if I want to save the pic in the shared library and my personal library? I think the shared library is supposed to be the original pic, but I want to use both?

Thinking this would be easier to share travel pics with the same group of friends that I always share with.

Probably the whole point of this is to have a constant share library with people who are close to you. So between my SO and I, it's a fricking hassle to go "do you have this pic" and send the pic to each other. At the end, sure each of us has the same pic, but thats taking up double the space on our family shared iCloud space. It's definitely not a tool to use with friends. For that I would continue to use Shared Album
 

contacos

macrumors 68020
Nov 11, 2020
2,141
8,225
Mexico City living in Berlin
Too complicated for my family. They literally need to see „folders“, where they can drag and drop photos in, otherwise they just don’t get it.

I already have enough problems with „shared albums“ like I tried it with my aunt but somehow her pics never appeared on my devices while my cousins pics only appeared on my iPad but never on my iPhone. We gave up on it and went back to „folders“ on „Dropbox“ (which I hate and only use for family)
 

Bhy

macrumors newbie
Sep 12, 2012
12
12
Probably the whole point of this is to have a constant share library with people who are close to you. So between my SO and I, it's a fricking hassle to go "do you have this pic" and send the pic to each other. At the end, sure each of us has the same pic, but thats taking up double the space on our family shared iCloud space. It's definitely not a tool to use with friends. For that I would continue to use Shared Album
Well, the problem with Shared Album with friends is that I'm lazy, and I'm still 3 trips behind getting the photos picked and put in an album.

So I end up just imessaging them photos realtime and worry about the shared album later.

I could see this being handy if 3 of us are on a trip together, then it should be easy to get originals and copy them to our personal libraries?
 
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Le Big Mac

macrumors 68030
Jan 7, 2003
2,724
302
Washington, DC
Probably the whole point of this is to have a constant share library with people who are close to you. So between my SO and I, it's a fricking hassle to go "do you have this pic" and send the pic to each other. At the end, sure each of us has the same pic, but thats taking up double the space on our family shared iCloud space. It's definitely not a tool to use with friends. For that I would continue to use Shared Album

Was a lot easier when you could do this via home sharing, and not do everything via iCloud.

Yeah, I realize with mobile devices that's a bit harder . . . but certainly well within the technical capabilities of Apple.
 

ziggie216

macrumors 6502
Jul 14, 2008
407
233
So only 1 of your storage will be affected by tons of space used then right?
Correct, the main organizer. So if you invite someone who isnt part of your iCloud storage, the pics will consume the organizer's space and not the invitees
 
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Mike Boreham

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2006
2,946
1,073
UK
Too complicated for my family. They literally need to see „folders“, where they can drag and drop photos in, otherwise they just don’t get it.
Moving photos between Personal and Shared is no more difficult than dragging them into a shared album. You can automate it so that all photos automatically go into the Shared Library by default. Individuals can opt out of it happening automatically.
 
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nutmac

macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
5,596
5,879
ill stick with a shared album that doesn't count against my icloud storage limit, thanks
Assuming you and your wife are on the same iCloud account, iCloud Shared Photo Library shouldn't use extra storage space. As a plus, using the feature will detect duplicate photos and videos which can reduce the storage used.

I am personally not a fan of shared album as it significantly degrades the quality. iPhone takes photos at a resolution up to 4032 by 3024 (12 MP). This will be reduced to 2048 by 1536 (3 MP), 4 times reduction! Videos are reduced to 720p, limited to 15 minutes in duration.
 

contacos

macrumors 68020
Nov 11, 2020
2,141
8,225
Mexico City living in Berlin
Moving photos between Personal and Shared is no more difficult than dragging them into a shared album. You can automate it so that all photos automatically go into the Shared Library by default. Individuals can opt out of it happening automatically.

I know. They don’t get that either. They grew up with an explorer / finder and folders inside
 

nutmac

macrumors 603
Mar 30, 2004
5,596
5,879
I’m confused. Hasn’t iCloud Shared Photo Library been a thing for years now? What’s different?
iCloud Photo Library (your entire Photo Library in the iCloud) has been a thing for years, as well as Shared Album (allow you to share certain photos and videos at reduced quality).

iCloud Shared Photo Library lets your family members opt in to shared their photos and library as single shared library.
 

DotCom2

macrumors 603
Feb 22, 2009
5,511
4,342
This is going to be great when I go on vacation and set the camera to send all pics to the Shared Family Library. Then when and if I find the time, I can always delete what is duplicated, off or a bad pic. YAY!~
 
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acousticbiker

macrumors 6502a
Jun 28, 2008
857
156
I'm looking forward to having a Shared Library of all photos for my wife and I (her phone is currently under my Apple ID to allows us to see all of each others' photos, which limits other device-specific functionality).

When we're on a trip with our family, I'd like to also enable the option to share photos with our kids based on Bluetooth proximity but I don't want to share the entire Shared Library with the kids. Is this possible? Does the location-based automatic sharing create a different album? Can I as the host define the terms for each family member (share all photos with wife but only share with kids when our phones are close)?
 

Macropanda

macrumors regular
Oct 21, 2014
112
686
iCloud is worthless for media.
I agree. I still sync photos from a folder on my Mac and won't move to iCloud until if/when a few changes are made like the option to move images to a folder instead of a alias and the ability to export but retain the date created/modified.
 
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