How to create a shared iCloud photo library with iOS 16

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You know about Shared Albums, but the latest iPhone software update comes with iCloud Shared Libraries. With Apple’s iOS 16, users can create an entire library to share with friends and loved ones.

How is a Shared Library different from a Shared Album? There are a few different ways. With a Shared Library, you can take photos and videos directly into the shared space without going through the extra process of adding them to an album. Also, all participants have equal access to adding, editing, and deleting photos and videos.

Last but not least, the Shared Library feature is smart, which means you can set it up to automatically recognize photos by people or dates, and it offers suggestions for what to share. Essentially, it’s a fun feature that makes sharing photos that much easier.

Here’s how to set up the iCloud Shared Photo Library with iOS 16.

1. To get start, open Settings then Photos

Create a shared iCloud library through Photos settings.
Credit: Screenshot: Apple

2. In Photos, tap Shared Library to start the setup.

iPhone screenshot of Photos settings showing the Shared Library button

Tap “Shared Library” to turn on this feature.
Credit: Screenshot: Apple

iPhone screenshot of iCloud Shared Photo Library setup

Tap “Start Setup” to uh, start the setup.
Credit: Screenshot: Apple

3. Add participants

Tap “Add Participants” to invite people you want to share your library with. This will take you to another screen where you can add people by typing in their name.

iPhone screenshot of adding participants to shared library

Tap to started adding contacts to invite.
Credit: Screenshot: Apple

iPhone screenshot of adding participant to the shared library

Start typing to pull up contacts you want to invite.
Credit: Screenshot: Apple

Once you’ve added the first participant, add more by tapping “Add Participants” again. You can add up to five people to share with. When finished, tap “Continue.”

iPhone screenshot of adding more participants to shared library

You can add up to five participants to the Shared Library.
Credit: Screenshot: Apple

4. Select how you want to transfer photos

The next screen will offer you three different options for which photos should go to the Shared Library. Once you choose an option, you’ll be able to preview how it will look, so you can go back and change it if you decide you don’t want to make your entire library accessible to everyone.

iPhone screenshot of options for moving photos to Shared Library

There are three different ways to move photos into your Shared Library
Credit: Apple

  • All My Photos and Videos

    This will move everything in your Personal Library to your Shared Library.

  • Choose by People or Date

    Maybe your Shared Library is for sharing photos of your kids or dog with family members or going on vacation with a group of friends. This option allows you to include photos based on specific people (or animals) in the photos or specific dates.

  • Choose Manually

    Manually select any photos you want to bring into your Shared Library.

iPhone screenshot of choosing photos for the Shared Library

Manually add photos to your Shared Library.
Credit: Apple

iPhone screenshot of Shared Library preview option

You can opt to preview your Shared Library before you invite participants.
Credit: Apple

Tap “Preview Shared Library” to see how your photos will look (or you can just hit “Skip and Continue” to skip the preview.) If you’re happy with the preview, tap “Continue” to finish the setup.

iPhone screenshot of Shared Library preivew.

Who wouldn’t be happy with this preview?
Credit: Apple

5. Send out the invites

Once your Shared Library looks good-to-go, it’s time to share it. Tap “Invite via Messages” to sent the invite in a group message to all of the participants, or “Share Link” to copy the link and share it another way.

iPhone screenshot of sending Shared Library invitation

Send an invite through Messages or another way.
Credit: Apple

iPhone screenshot of Shared Library invitation in a group message

Sending via Messages will automatically create a group, so choose the other option if you don’t want this.
Credit: Apple

6. Choose your camera settings

Once you send out the invitation, you’ll be asked about a setting called “Share from Camera.” If you are within Bluetooth range of participants, any photos or videos you take will automatically go into the Shared Library. Tap “Share Automatically” to turn this on or “Share Manually Only” to keep it off.

iPhone screenshot of

Automatically share with other participants when they’re nearby.
Credit: Apple

Tap “Done” on the next screen, and your Shared Library is ready. On this screen there are some additional details about how it works.

To switch between your Personal and Shared Library, tap the setting at the top of the screen when using your camera. To turn on Shared Library Suggestions, go back to Settings, then Photos, then Shared Library. Here you’ll also find options for adding or deleting participants, turning off/on Sharing From Camera, and deleting the Shared Library.

All participants can add, edit, delete, and organize photos and videos by using the select tool and the three dots icon, just as you would in a Personal Library. And now you have a Shared Library, enjoy responsibly.

iPhone screenshot of finished Shared Library setup depicting additional details about navigating the feature.

Final details you need to know.
Credit: Apple

SEE ALSO:

How to edit your Lock Screen in iOS 16

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