How to Create an iCloud Shared Photo Library in iOS 16 (2023)

iCloud shared albums are seeing a serious upgrade with iOS 16; you can now create a whole iCloud Shared Photo Library that you can invite up to five people to join. It differs from a shared album because participants can do much more with it than before. You can take photos and videos directly in that shared library so you don't need to add it later, and everyone can add, edit, and delete any photo. Here's how to set up an iCloud Shared Photo Library.

Related: How to Only Share Manually in Your Shared Photo Library

What Is a Shared Photo Library?

iOS 16 introduced a new feature called Shared Photo Library, which lets you share a whole iCloud photo library with up to five people. Unlike shared albums, in the iCloud Shared Photo Library, you can record photos and videos right in that library instead of adding them after, and everyone can add, edit, share, and delete. The only requirement for sharing is everyone involved has iOS 16 and no one is part of another Shared Photo Library. For more tutorials on iOS 16, check out our Tip of the Day.

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How to Use iCloud Shared Photo Library

First, make sure the people you want to share your Photo Library with are updated to iOS 16 (iOS 16 is only available as a beta until its official release in fall 2022) and aren't part of any Shared Photo Library already. Then:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Tap Photos.

  3. Tap Shared Library. You will see Set Up to the right of the text if it's not already set up.

  4. Tap Start Setup.

  5. Tap Add Participants.

  6. Type in the name of the contact you want to add, then tap their name when it appears.

  7. Tap Add.

  8. Once you're done adding participants, tap Continue.

  9. Choose how much of your existing personal library you want to share. You can choose All My Photos and Videos, Choose by People or Date (for if you want to share all the photos from one day or of one person), or Choose Manually.

  10. Tap Continue.

  11. If you're choosing manually, choose the photo you want to share, then tap Add.

  12. Tap Preview Shared Library if you want to preview the library before sharing it. Otherwise, tap Skip and Continue.

  13. If you previewed your library, review it and then tap Continue.

  14. Now, you will officially send invitations to your shared library. Select Invite Via Messages or Share Link.

  15. Send the message or share the link in your desired format.

  16. Now, select whether you want to share photos in this library automatically via Bluetooth when the participants are nearby. Tap either Share Automatically or Share Manually Only.

  17. Tap Done.

And there you have it! You can also add people to an iCloud Shared Photo Library after the fact. It's easy! Enjoy a new and more customizable way to share photos through iCloud.

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Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden Both

Amy Spitzfaden-Both is the Managing Editor for iPhone Life magazine and an award-winning novelist, with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. She specializes in Apple news and rumors, health and fitness tech, and parenting in the digital age. She graduated from MIU with a BA in Literature and Writing.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.