How to Organize, Share & Store iPhone Photos (Updated for iOS 15)

Here's our photo management guide for Apple's Photos app iPhone. You'll learn how to create photo albums, use iCloud Photos, share your photos and videos, and more.

The Apple Photos app is great for collecting, organizing, storing, and sharing your photos. If you’re looking for the best photo app for managing your important memories, read on to learn how to organize and manage your photos using the iPhone or iPad Photos app. We'll teach you how to access your iPhone gallery, how to create and edit Memories, how to add or remove people, how to create photo albums in the Photos app, and more.

Related: iPhone Photo Saving & Sharing Guide: Text, Email, AirDrop, Shared Albums & Social Media

How to Organize, Share & Store iPhone Photos

Want to learn how to organize, store, and share pictures on your iPhone? Here's how to access your iPhone gallery, how to create and edit Memories, how to add or remove people, how to create photo albums in the Photos app, and more. For more great tutorials, including how to edit photos on iPhone, check out our free Tip of the Day

What Is the Apple Photos App

The Apple Photos app comes preinstalled on your iPhone or iPad, and it’s the main app for managing your photos and videos. Within the Apple Photos app, you can access your stored photos, create photo albums, delete unwanted photos, and organize your photos by unique categories such as People or Memories. The Photos app isn’t the only way to access your photos, but it’s the quickest way to get organized while you’re on the go.

When you open the Photos app, you’ll see tabbed categories such as Photos, For You, Album, and Search. You’ll also see some premade albums such as days of the week, months, calendar years, and locations. The further you dig into your picture gallery, the more complex the system becomes, and it can be easy to get lost. And that’s just the Photos tab! The For You tab adds even more layers, such as Featured Photos, Memories, and Shared Album Activity. Finally, there’s the Albums tab, which generates folders from your iPhone’s storage as well as apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

Photo Organization & Management for the iPhone

Now that you know what Apple intended for the Photos app, let’s dive into how to master the app on your iPhone or iPad. You can use the Photos app to create and manage albums, organize and edit Memories, and adjust the People tags to organize your photos by contacts.

How to Create a New Photo Album in the Photos App

Under your Albums tab, you’ll see premade albums such as Favorites, People, and Places. Depending on what apps you have installed, and your permissions for each app, you might also see albums for apps like Instagram or Snapchat. From here, you can edit or delete existing albums as well as create new albums. You can also rearrange and organize albums on iPhone. If you don't like the album name you originally chose, you can rename an album in the Photos app. 

To create a new album:

  1. Open the Photos app.

    apple photos app
  2. Tap the Albums tab, then tap the + icon on the top-left of your screen.

    tap the plus sign
  3. Tap New Album.

    tap new album
  4. Name your album and tap Save.

    name your album and tap save
  5. Select photos to add to your new album and tap Done when you’re finished.

    choose photos and tap done

  6. Your new album will appear in the Albums tab

    new album added in my albums

How to Add Videos & Photos to an Album 

Now that you’ve made an album, you may be wondering if you can organize photos in albums on an iPhone or how to put your photos into albums. You can add videos and pictures to albums you’ve already created; here’s how.

To Add Photos to an Existing Album:

  1. Open the Photos app, tap the Library tab, then tap Select.

    tap select
  2. Tap the video or photo thumbnails you want to add, then tap the Share icon

    tap the share icon
  3. Scroll down, then tap Add to Album or Add to Shared Album

    add to shared album
  4. Tap the album you want to add your photos and videos to.

    tap the album

An even faster way to find and add content to an album is to use the Search field. To do this:

  1. Tap the Search tab and enter your specifications. This can be a subject, location, date, caption, or all of the above. You can also ask Siri to show you these pictures. 

    enter your search term to find photos
  2. Tap See All

    tap see all
  3. Tap Select
  4. Tap the first picture you want to include, then keep your finger on the screen and swipe down to select them all, or tap selected photos, then tap the Share icon

    tap the share icon
  5. Tap Add to Album

    tap add to album
  6. Tap the album you want the photos in.

You can also use this method: 

  1. Tap the album, then tap the plus sign on the album.

    tap plus sign on album
  2. Tap the photos and videos you’d like to include, then tap Done.

    choose media tap done
  3. Write a comment under the batch of pictures and videos you just added, if desired, then tap Done.  

    write comment

In future, you can add more photos and videos using the method above. If you have specific pictures buried in your Photos app Library that you’d like to include, though, it’s easier to:

  1. Tap the Search tab, then enter your search term (this can include more than one term). 
  2. Tap See All.

    tap see all 3
  3.  Tap one of the photos you’d like to include in your album, then tap the Share icon.

    tap the share icon
  4. Scroll left and tap the other photos and videos you’d like to include, then tap Add to Album or Add to Shared Album.

    add to shared album
  5. Choose the album you'd like to post your photos to, comment, and tap Post.

    add comment tap post

How to Find Imported Pictures

If you’re asking, “How do I find imported photos?” because you want to add them to your albums, here’s how to find them.

  1. Open the Photos app, tap the Albums tab.

    photos app albums tab
  2. Tap Imports under Utilities at the bottom of the page.

    imports in photos app albums

How to Remove Videos & Photos from an Album 

If you added pictures or videos to your album that you no longer want there, we’ll show you how to remove a photo from an album without deleting it. Note: Some readers have asked if you can delete photos from your camera roll and keep them in an album. The answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. If you delete a photo or video from your Photo Library (camera roll), it will be deleted everywhere, including any albums you’ve added it to, as well as your iCloud storage. 

To remove photos from an existing album:

  1. In the Albums tab, tap the album you want to remove content from.

    open the photo album
  2. Tap the trash can icon.

    trash can icon
  3. Tap Remove from Album or Delete to completely delete the photo or video.

     remove from album

To Share an Existing Album with Saved Contacts:

  1. Open the Photos app, tap the Albums tab, and tap the album you want to share.
  2. Tap Select.

    tap select to choose photos to share
  3. Tap the photos or videos you want to share, then tap the Share icon.

    tap the share icon
  4. Tap your preferred sharing method; in this case I've chosen Messages

    tap messages
  5. Tap the plus sign to add recipients from your Contacts, then tap the Send icon when you're ready to share your album.

    tap the plus icon to add recipients

How to Create a Shared Album:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap the banner with your name in it at the top of the page.

    tap the banner
  2. Tap iCloud

    tap icloud
  3. Tap Photos.

    open icloud photo settings
  4. From here, toggle on iCloud Photos and Shared Albums.

    toggle on icloud photos and shared albums
  5. Next, open your Photos app, tap the Albums tab, and tap the + icon at the top left.

    tap the plus sign to create a new album
  6. Tap New Shared Album.

    new shared album
  7. Name your album and tap Next.

    name album tap next
  8. Type in email addresses, iPhone numbers, or enter people from your Contacts. 
  9. Tap the plus sign to add more members to the shared album; you can enter up to 100 people!

    tap plus to add contacts
  10. Tap Create, and your Shared Album is complete.
  11. You can find your album in the Albums tab.

    new shared album in iphone albums tab

Now you and the friends you invited can add photos and videos to the Shared Album.

  1. To add content to the shared album, tap the Albums tab and tap the album you just created.
  2. Tap the + icon.

    tap the plus icon
  3. Tap the photos and videos you want to add to the album, then tap Done.

    tap the photos then tap done
  4. Enter a description if you like, then tap Post.

    add comment and tap post

How to Find, Organize & Edit Your Memories

How to Create a New Memory:

  1. Open the Photos app and tap the Albums tab.

    tap the albums tab
  2. Tap the album you want to use to create a memory, then tap the More icon.

    tap the more icon
  3. Tap Play Memory Movie.

    play memory movie
  4. While the movie plays, tap the screen, then tap the grid icon.

    photo spread icon
  5. Tap the More icon again, then tap Edit Title.

    edit title of memory movie
  6. Enter a title and date, then tap Save

    tap save
  7. Now when you tap the For You tab, you'll see your new Memory under Memories.

    new memory in Memories

How to Edit an Existing Memory:

  1. Open the Photos app and tap the For You tab. 
  2. Scroll up or down to find the Memories section and tap See All.

    tap see all
  3. Tap the Memory you want to edit, and tap again to reveal the editing interface. Tap the grid icon.

    tap the grid icon
  4. Tap the More icon. 

    tap the more icon
  5. Tap Select.

    tap select
  6. Tap any photos or videos you don't want to include in your Memory and tap the Trash icon.

    tap the trash can icon
  7. Tap Delete [number] Photos. You will see a message that says "These photos will be deleted from iCloud Photos on all your devices." Don't panic! Your photos are only being deleted from that Memory, but not from your photo album. Go ahead and confirm.
  8. Now, you can change the play speed, order, and music of your Memory. To make edits to the Memory, tap the screen again, then tap the Music icon.

    tap the music icon
  9. Tap the Music icon once again to choose a different soundtrack; tap Done when finished.

    tap done when finished changing music
  10. Tap the Filter icon to choose a new filter; tap Done when finished. 

    change filter in memory
  11. Tap the More icon, then Edit Title to change the title; tap Save when finished. 

    edit title of memory

How to Add, Remove, Change, or Hide People

Before we delve into the how-to portion of this topic, it's important to state where the Photos app falls short in this department. Sometimes, your iPhone can't recognize that a person is a person. Meaning, depending on the angle, lighting, or how blurry someone is, there might be a person in a photo that you simply cannot tag. Unfortunately, there's no workaround for this problem. Hopefully, as Apple improves its facial recognition algorithm, this problem will be solved. In the meantime, here's how you can add, remove, change, or hide People inside the Photos app on your iPhone.

How to Add Someone to Your People album:

Open the Photos app, find a photograph of the person you want to add and tap that photograph.

  1. Swipe up on the photograph and tap the bubble with the question mark in it that features the person you want to add.

    tap the icon with the question mark
  2. Tap Tag with Name.

    tag with name
  3. Enter the person's name and tap Next.

    enter the person's name and tap next
  4. Review the tagged photos of the individual, then tap Confirm.
  5. If you've already tagged photos of the person but haven't added them to your People album:
  6. Swipe up and tap on the photo bubble as before, then tap All Photos of (name).

    tap all pictures of
  7. Tap the More icon at the top of your display.

    tap the more icon
  8. Tap Add (Name) to People.

    add myles to people

How to Remove Someone from the People Album:

  1. Open the Photos app, tap the Albums tab, and tap the People album

    tap the people album
  2. Tap Select.

    tap select
  3. Tap Remove, then confirm.

    tap the person, then remove

How to Add Photos to People Album

  1. Open the Photos app and tap the photo you want to tag.
  2. Swipe up until you see the metadata for the photo.
  3. Tap the image of the photo with a question mark on it. 

    tap the photo with question mark
  4. Tap Tag with Name.
  5. Begin typing the name of the person in the photo, and the person's name from your People album will appear.

    type the name in
  6. Tap the name, then tap Next, and the photo will be included in your People album with others of the same individual.
  7. Tap Done to finish up.

    tap done when finished

My Photo Stream & iCloud Storage

As you go through the process of organizing your photos, you might start to wonder "How can I optimize my storage?" All of your photos can be saved to iCloud, and with storage optimization enabled, Apple's algorithms will remove duplicates as well as compress your images to a manageable size. Still, as you snap photos, you will inevitably reach a point where you will be prompted to purchase additional storage. Before you purchase additional storage, however, you're going to want to activate this hidden feature that will take your photo organizing skills to the next level.

When My Photo Stream is enabled, your most recent photos will be uploaded to your photo stream for 30 days, allowing you to upload, edit, and manage those photos on any device. If you recently created your Apple ID, My Photo Stream may not be available. To enable My Photo Stream, and to optimize your iCloud storage, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.

    iphone settings app
  2. Tap Photos.

    tap photos to open photos app settings
  3. To enable My Photo Stream, toggle iCloud Photos to the right.

    toggle on icloud photos
  4. For iCloud optimization, make sure there is a blue checkmark beside Optimized iPhone Storage instead of Download and Keep Originals.

    tap optimize iphone storage to save storage space

If you experience any photos not uploading to iCloud issues, read this.

One Final Note On Storage & Duplicate Photos

As you go through the process of tagging photos, creating memories, and organizing your albums, you should know that when you do so, you are not making duplicate photos. When you take a picture, that image is saved once. If you follow any of the steps in the previous sections, such as moving a photo to an album, you are not actually moving that photo. Instead, the Photos app has added a tag to the original photo so that photo appears twice. The data, however, is only stored once. Why does the Photos app have duplicate images? Once a photo is tagged with a person, a place, a date, as a memory, etc., the original photo is updated with those tags. These tags prevent your photos from taking up more storage than is necessary on either iCloud or your iPhone's storage.

All of the data, such as tags, is stored locally in your iPhone's Secure Enclave, meaning that none of your data is being shared with Apple or any third party. iCloud simply references your local storage, looks up the tags you've added, and shows you those tags on your device.

Now that you're ready to get organized, feel free to share your favorite organization methods in the comments below.

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Author Details

Tamlin Day's picture

Author Details

Tamlin Day

Tamlin Day is a feature web writer for iPhone Life and a regular contributor to iPhone Life magazine. A prolific writer of tips, reviews, and in-depth guides, Tamlin has written hundreds of articles for iPhone Life. From iPhone settings to recommendations for the best iPhone-compatible gear to the latest Apple news, Tamlin's expertise covers a broad spectrum. 

Before joining iPhone Life, Tamlin received his BFA in Media & Communications as well as a BA in Graphic Design from Maharishi International University (MIU), where he edited MIU's literary journal, Meta-fore. With a passion for teaching, Tamlin has instructed young adults, college students, and adult learners on topics ranging from spoken word poetry to taking the perfect group selfie. Tamlin's first computer, a Radioshack Color Computer III, was given to him by his father. At 13, Tamlin built his first PC from spare parts. He is proud to put his passion for teaching and tech into practice as a writer and educator at iPhone Life.