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How to Set Up and Use iCloud Shared Photo Library on Your iPhone
December 21, 2022

How to Set Up and Use iCloud Shared Photo Library on Your iPhone

Reading Time: 4 minutes

iCloud Shared Photo Library is one of the best quality-of-life features in iOS 16. So, here’s a detailed guide to help you get started.

While it’s true that Apple has offered Shared Albums for quite a while now, don’t confuse it with iCloud Shared Photo Library because they aren’t the same. This new addition brings several quality-of-life improvements to the photo-sharing experience across your Apple devices.

So, here’s everything you need to know about iCloud Shared Photo Library on an iPhone, including how to create one, use one, and even delete one when needed.

What Is iCloud Shared Photo Library?

For the most part, the name gives you an indication of what this awesome iOS 16 feature is. It’s a place where you can share photos with your friends and family to see at all times.

The Shared Library can have up to six people at a time, and everyone added can view, edit, add, and delete pictures in the library. It’s a fantastic way to create memories and store your favorite moments in one place.

How to Create and View a Shared Photo Library in iCloud

Before you begin, you must ensure your iPhone is updated to iOS 16.1 or above. You must also enable iCloud Photos from Settings > Photos > iCloud Photos.

Once that is done, the steps to create a shared photo library are pretty simple. Here’s what you’ll have to do:

  1. Open Settings and go to Photos.
  2. Select Shared Library and tap Get Started.
  3. You can add participants and pictures as per the prompts on your screen, or you can add them later. Participants must also have iOS 16.1 or newer installed.
  4. Press Done to finish.

You can now view your iCloud Shared Photo Library alone or alongside your personal library in your Photos app. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Tap on the profile icon at the top right corner of your screen. This icon will be replaced by three horizontal dots if Both Libraries is the selected option.
  3. Select your preference from Both Libraries, Personal Library, and Shared Library, according to how you want to view your libraries.

How to Move Photos to Your iCloud Shared Photo Library

As mentioned above, you can move photos when setting up your iCloud Shared Photo Library. If you want to move them later, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Select in the top right corner and select all the photos you want to move.
  2. Next, tap on the three dots icon at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Select Move to Shared Library. You will see a small icon depicting people in the corner of these photos indicating they are now in your Shared Library.

How to Choose What You Share From the Camera in the iCloud Shared Photo Library

While you can manually select and move pictures from your Photos app as described above, you can also directly share photos from the Camera app. To enable this feature, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Photos and tap on Shared Library.
  2. Select Sharing from Camera.
  3. Turn on the toggle.

Once you do so, you can choose between Share Automatically and Share Manually. When Share Automatically is enabled, the Camera app will automatically add photos to the Shared Library when it detects you’re with participants. How cool is that?

However, you do need to ensure that Bluetooth is turned on for this feature to work. But if Bluetooth isn’t working on your iPhone, try these fixes. With Share Manually, you can choose when the Camera app adds a photo to the Shared Library and when it doesn’t.

Another cool feature in this category is Share When at Home. Once you turn on the toggle next to this option, your Camera will add whatever photos or videos you take at home to your iCloud Shared Photo Library. It’s quite a handy feature, especially if your Shared Library is with your family members.

You can also choose what photos to add to your Shared Library directly through the Camera app. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Camera app on your iPhone.
  2. Before you click a picture, tap on the profile icon with two people in the top left corner of your screen.
  3. Once it turns yellow, it indicates that all pictures you take will automatically be added to your Shared Library. To add them to your personal library only, tap the icon again so that a diagonal slash appears on it.

How to Delete Your iCloud Shared Photo Library

All the extra photos and videos may be a little overwhelming at first, especially if you’re privacy conscious. So, if you want to delete the iCloud Photo Library you created, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to Settings > Photos on your iPhone
  2. Tap on Shared Library.
  3. Select Delete Shared Library at the bottom. If you’re a participant, you will see Leave Shared Library at exactly the same place.

Don’t worry about losing everything. As you can see, once you press Delete Shared Library, iOS will ask if you’d like to Keep Everything or Keep Only What I Contributed.

All participants will receive a notification about the Shared Library being deleted. If they’ve been a participant for more than seven days, they will receive a copy of all photos in the Shared Library. If not, they will only get to keep the photos they contributed themselves.

Ran Out of Storage in Your iCloud Shared Photo Library?

Keep in mind that the person who creates the library is the one who provides iCloud storage for the entire Shared Library. If you’re a collaborator and aren’t the one who created the Shared Library, then your iCloud storage will not be used up.

If your iCloud Shared Photo Library is out of storage space, it is because the creator’s iCloud storage is full. So, if you’re the one who made it, you will have to upgrade your iCloud storage plan to add extra storage.

Use iCloud Shared Photo Library to Create Memories With Family and Friends

Apple introduced iCloud Shared Photo Library alongside iOS 16.1, allowing up to six people to add, edit, view, and delete photos and videos in one gigantic library.

You can manually add pictures from Photos or let your iPhone automatically add them from your Camera app. You can explore many tricks with this new addition, but don’t forget that this is just one of the many great features iOS 16 brings to the table.


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