How to create an iCloud Shared Photo Library in iOS 16

Almost everyone has been guilty, at some point or another, of forgetting to send a picture or video to friends and family. The good news is that iOS 16 now lets you create an iCloud Shared Photo Library to make it easier to share memories with loved ones on their iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

An iCloud Shared Photo Library is exactly what it sounds like: it allows up to six people to contribute photos and videos to a single collection. Everyone who has access to the shared library can add, edit, or delete content. You can also choose to either upload photos to the shared library manually or automatically when your phone detects you’re near other members. For example, if you invited Mom and Dad to a shared library, you can set it up so that any photos taken when you visit them are automatically added.

That said, you should know that creating a shared library comes with its own quirks. The person who creates the library, the “host,” is the one who provides all the iCloud storage. Other members can freely access the library, but it won’t count toward their own iCloud storage. If the host runs out of storage, then no one will be able to add any more photos. Favoriting or editing a photo also won’t sync. You may want to take that into consideration when you consider whom to invite. The last thing you want is Uncle Bob eating up your limited iCloud storage with 50 photos of each meal.

Also, you can delete photos, but be careful — deleted content gets moved to the Recently Deleted folder, and only the contributor of that photo or video can fully delete it from there. So if your annoying sibling adds an unflattering photo of you to the library and you delete it, it can still haunt you from the Recently Deleted folder because it’s their photo, and only they can completely get rid of it.

Lastly, you can only participate in one Shared Library at a time, so be mindful of which one you join.

With that in mind, here’s how to get started.

First things first, make sure your devices have iOS 16.1, iPadOS 16.1, macOS Ventura or later. On the iPhone and iPad, you can check if you’re up to date by going to Settings > General > Software Update. On Macs, head to System Settings > General > Software Update.

That’s all there is to it. And while you should be mindful of what you share and who you invite, don’t sweat the small stuff too much. You can always move photos and videos from the Shared Library back to your personal one.

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