How I Store & Share Photos & Videos on iCloud

Since iOS 8’s introduction, Apple had made great strides in offering a photo management solution for us so that we can easily and quickly store our photos and videos in such a way that our precious memories are safely and securely backed up to the cloud and at the same time managed in such a way that our Camera Rolls can no longer be a dumping ground for the snaps we take and end up having to store gigabytes of photos and videos. 

What you need to do;

Presuming that you have updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8 (check by going into the Settings app, tapping About and under Version check it says 8.x) in the last few months, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have upgraded your photos to the new iCloud Photo Libary Beta. You can do this by making sure have enabled the Beta upgrade by navigating to Settings, scroll down to Photos & Camera and making sure you toggled the option for iCloud Photo Library (Beta).

After enabling this feature on all of your iOS devices, all your photos and videos that were stored in the old Camera Roll folder will now live in All Photos within the Photos app. After an initial sync, the albums for All Photos and Videos should mirror each other when you have more than one iOS device with iCloud Photo Library (Beta) enabled. You can gain access to the All Photos folder by tapping on the Albums button at the bottom of the screen as highlighted in blue in the below picture.

From now on any new photos and videos that you add or import to your devices will save in All Photos and Videos and will stay in sync even if you delete or edit any of the content on any of your devices.

Creating Albums & Events That Can be Shared

The majority of people I speak to and hear from are concerned that they are not sure what to with their photos after taking them/importing them and are not sure whether to transfer them to their computers or how to store them properly in iCloud. Apple for sure can take much of the blame here – they certainly could do a much better job at educating their users in this regard.

The key here is to try and educate yourself to get away from transferring photos and videos to your PC or Mac and instead, transfer the content to the cloud using Apple’s revamped iCloud Photo Library service. Once you have your content in the cloud, then any of your devices including iPhones, iPads, Macs or PCs that you may have, will then easily be able to see the same photo and video collection because they will all be configured to see your content in iCloud whereas in the past your home PC or Mac was the unofficial dumping and storage place which would result in unmanageable and disorganised collections in most people’s cases.

Normally when you take a bunch of photos or videos, it is because of an event you have been to or a day out somewhere with your family or perhaps a holiday or trip abroad. Whatever it is, it’s wise to keep your snaps organised into an album with a simple title to signify the event. Don’t worry so much about dates and locations of where the photos were taken as nowadays this information is included with any images you take (can be toggled off) and can be searched easily to help you locate memories. Instead, try and keep your album titles simple such as Christmas ’15 or London ’13 or Joe’s 4th Birthday. With that in mind, I’ll show you how to move your photos and videos out of All Photos in your Photos app and into organised, iCloud-stored, simple to find albums.

Navigate to your Photos app and pay attention to the three tabs at the bottom of the screen titled Photos, Shared and Albums. Tap on the Middle tab titled Shared and this should take you to a screen where a display of your most recently shared photos are shown in a collage. Notice in the top left hand side of the screen a blue transparent button tiled Sharing – tap this and this should take you to an overview of any shared albums and events that you may created or stored.

After tapping Sharing you will now be in the iCloud Photo Sharing page and this is where we are going to store all our photos and video in organised and titled albums. 

  • First thing to do is to create a new album which you can do by tapping on the New Shared Album box which has a blue plus sign in the centre.
  • Give your album a name (depending on the photos you have in your All Photos folder in Albums in the input box that appears and tap Next.
  • In the next input box, this is where you need to input the iCloud/email address of the person or persons that you wish to share this album with so they have the photos and videos stored on their devices with their Photos app, then tap Create. NB if you don’t wish to share the album, just refrain from entering an email address and tap Create – the album will still be stored in iCloud and you can always share this album later.

You should then notice a new album created that is blank but has the album title you just added.

Tap on this newly created album to open the folder. To choose which photos and videos you want to store in this album, tap the grey box with the blue plus sign and it will take you to a screen titled Moments. We just want to access our All Photos folder because that’s where are content is stored so tap the Albums button which is one of the three tabs at the bottom of the screen which we accessed earlier, then tap All Photos to see the screen which lists all your photos and videos. 

Now you need to tap on each photo to select the ones you want to add to your album – you’ll notice that as you tap on each photo or video, a small blue tick will appear over it to signify your selection. Once you have chosen and ticked all the media you want to add, tap Done.

On the next box that prompts, just tap Post and depending on network speeds and amount images selected, you will shortly see your chosen images appear in this new album. Tapping Sharing in the top left hand corner will take you back to the overview of all your iCloud stored albums. You also have options to add or remove sharing privileges with friends and family by tapping the People option in the top right hand side.

Housekeeping & Summary

Now that you have created a shared album and it’s safely stored in iCloud, for housekeeping purposes, you should remove your original photos and videos that you used to create your shared album otherwise you’ll end up with duplicates in your All Photos folder. Navigate to All Photos as you did earlier, select the photos and videos that you have used to create your shared album and feel free to delete them. If after you have deleted any photos or videos that you didn’t mean to, then don’t despair- that’s why there is the Recently Deleted folder which stores photos and videos recently deleted from any of your iCloud devices up to 30 days.

You can check your recently created shared album by accessing your photos from another one of your iCloud devices and check the Shared Albums to see your synced album with any photos and videos. This may or may not be the definitive way that Apple advises to store your albums in iCloud but I think that creating an album in the Shared Albums section allows for flexibility for sharing your albums if you need to in the future. As I said before, Apple has not clearly suggested the best way to house your photo collection in iCloud but I have done extensive testing with this over the last year and have even seen my shared and uploaded albums automatically appear whenever I have swapped iPhones or activated a new iOS device and signed into my iCloud account on the device, so I know that it is transferable and tied to you iCloud account.

I will update this article in the future if and when Apple advises any to the contrary but for now I am confident this is the definitive way to store your photo and home video collection.