How to Set Up a Shared Photo Library with Auto-Sharing

iOS 16's new Shared Photo Library feature can automatically share new pictures with the people you choose.

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

One of the new features iOS 16 is bringing to your iPhone is the Shared Photo Library, a separate library you can set up to allow multiple people to view and add photos and videos. Here, we'll show you how to set it up to automatically add relevant photos to the Shared Photo Library as soon as you take them.

Why You'll Love This Tip

  • No need to manually add each photo to the Shared Library after you take it.
  • Set it and forget it: let iOS share relevant photos automatically when you're with other participants.

How to Set Up a Shared Library That Automatically Shares New Photos and Videos

If you'd like your new Shared Photo Library to automatically get new pictures and videos so that the other participants have access to them as soon as possible, just follow these steps to see how to enable this option from the start, and how to change it later. For more guides on using the new features being introduced in iOS 16, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

Before you try this tip, make sure to update to iOS 16. These steps will not work with any other iPhone operating system.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Home screen with Settings app icon marked.
  2. Tap your name at the top of the screen to open the Apple ID settings.

    Settings app main screen with the Profile/Apple ID/iCloud option marked.
  3. Tap the option for the iCloud settings.

    Apple ID Settings screen with the iCloud option marked.
  4. Under the Sync with iCloud heading tap Photos.

    iCloud Settings screen with the Photos option marked.
  5. Scroll down on the screen and tap Shared Library.

    Photos iCloud Settings screen with Shared Library option marked.
  6. Tap the Start Setup button (or Get Started, if you see that option instead).

    iCloud Shared Photo Library setup first screen with Start Setup button marked.
  7. Tap the Add Participants button.

    Shared Photo Library Add Participants screen with the Add Participants button marked.
  8. Tap into the Add field and enter the name of the contact you'd like to add to the Shared Photo Library. As you begin to enter the name it should appear in a drop down box. You can simply tap the correct one when it appears. You can continue to add more participants to invite by tapping the + button. When you're finished, tap the Add button.

    Shared Photo Library Add Participants search screen with Add field marked.
  9. With everyone you want to invite added, tap the Continue button.

    Shared Photo Library Add Participants screen with one participant added and the Continue button marked.
  10. On this screen you can move photos from your Personal Library into the Shared Library. One option is to share photos of specific people or to limit them by date. For now, though, just tap Move Photos Later.

    Shared Photo Library setup on the Move Photos to the Shared Library screen with the Move Photos Later button marked.
  11. Next you need to decide how to invite the participants you picked. If you tap Share Link, you can select any method of sharing you like, but I think the easiest way is to do it via a text with the Messages app. To do this just tap Invite via Messages.

    Shared Photo Library setup on the Invite to the Shared Library screen with Invite via Messages button marked.
  12. Next, if you want new photos and videos to go into the Shared Library automatically, just tap the Share Automatically button.

    Shared Photo Library on the Share from Camera setup screen with the Share Automatically button marked.
  13. Of course, if you want to change this setting later, you can do so via the Shared Library settings (see steps 1 through 5 again if you need a reminder). Just tap Sharing from Camera.

    Shared Library Photos Settings with Sharing from Camera option marked.
  14. Here you can tap Share Automatically if you didn't turn it on initially, or switch it back to Share Manually.

    Shared Photo Library Sharing from Camera settings with Share Automatically option marked.

Now you're set. If your phone's Bluetooth detects that you're with other library participants, auto-sharing will put new photos and videos directly into your Shared Library.

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Author Details

Brian Peters's picture

Author Details

Brian Peters

Brian Peters is a Feature Web Writer at iPhone Life, a creative writing hobbyist, and general technology enthusiast. He has a bachelor's degree in English, and has completed National Novel Writing Month multiple times. He lives in the Austin, Texas, area with his wife, two dogs, and two cats.