How To: Getting Started With Shared Photo Streams

BY Tris Hussey

Published 3 Dec 2012

Photo Streams first arrived in iOS with iOS 5, but shared Photo Streams didn’t arrive until iOS 6. This relatively new feature is a great way to privately share photos with family and friends (who have compatible iOS devices), but starting to use Photo Streams can be a little tricky at first. So here is a quick guide to starting to use Shared Photo Streams on iOS 6.

Originally, Photo Stream under iOS 5 let the photos from your various iOS devices automatically push photos taken on one device to all your other devices and your Mac. Yes, early on there were issues with photos you didn’t want being spread around all over automatically (ahem), but now you can remove pictures from your Photo Stream to make them gone (whew).

In regular Photo Stream your last 30 days or 1000 photos are shared. In a Shared Photo Stream, since you’re sending specific photos to specific people, it’s more like a shared album than a stream since the push isn’t automatic (new photos don’t just go into shared Photo Streams, you have to put them there). Shared Photo Streams are also the easiest way to send more than 5 photos at a time to one person, or many. How do you start? Well here you go.

Step 1: Turn in on:

First thing, and completely unintuitive, you have to enable Shared Photos Streams in Settings under Photos & Camera:

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Once that’s done you can start sharing.

Step 2: Create the Photo Stream

When I’ve been trying Shared Photo Streams out, I’ve created the shared stream first and then added photos to it. You can, however, select photos to share, then add them to a new Shared Photo Stream on the fly.

To create a new Shared Photo Stream, from your main Photo Stream page (not the one with photos), tap the “+” to create a new Photo Stream (it’s a shared one, even though it doesn’t say so):

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Invite the people you want to it (it helps) to know their Apple ID email, but I’ve found that it’s not essential) and give the stream a name, and tap create.

Step 3: Choosing Photos and sharing

If you didn’t create the Shared Photos Stream in Step 2, you can still create a Shared Photo Stream at this step as well.

First, in an album (Photo Stream or otherwise) tap the Edit button in the corner:

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Then select the photos you want to share:

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Then tap the “Share” button and from the menu pick “Photo Stream”:

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Here you can pick any previously created Photo Stream (which is how you’d add new photos to an existing Stream) or create a new one on the fly. You can see the new LEGO FTW stream from Step 2 is here:

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Then just tap a little message and tap “Post”:

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Your friends will get something like this:

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And then you’ll get a little notification (with a neat little sound I noticed) when they’ve accepted.

If they want to save the photos themselves they will have to import them into iPhoto as a new album (Mac or iOS):

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Now, I can share my new LEGO a day with Mike and he can like or comment on my pictures. I’ll get a little popup notification when he does (which, he hasn’t yet, btw).

If you noticed when I was creating the Photo stream there is an option (I kept off) to make this stream public. The pro side is that the recipients don’t have to have an iOS device to see the pictures. The con, well, the pictures are public. Myself, I think if I were sharing family photos, etc—I wouldn’t do this. Even for non-private photos I would caution against this since you can’t put any kind of watermark, copyright, or Creative Common license one the photos.

So, keeping the shared Photo Streams off iCloud, does limit who can see, but it does keep photos private. Apple has some info on Shared Photo Streams on their iCloud page, but not a heck of a lot.

All that said, Shared Photo Streams are easy, fast, and don’t count against your iCloud storage so, go ahead and share away!