Working with iOS's Shared Photo Streams

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Snap and share: It’s one of the most common things we do with our mobile devices these days. But sometimes you don’t want to broadcast a picture for the whole world to see. Here’s a quick overview of how Shared Photo Streams can help you with that.


This is Macworld senior editor Dan Moren. Unlike Twitter or Instagram, iOS 6’s Shared Photo Streams make it easy to share photos with only a select group of friends or family, no matter what kind of computer, smartphone, or tablet they use.

To create a Shared Photo Stream, open the Photos app and tap the Photo Stream tab. By default, you’ll see your own personal photo stream, which syncs pictures shot with your iOS devices to all of your Macs and other iOS devices. (If you don’t, you may need to enable both your Photo Stream and Shared Photo Streams under Settings -> iCloud -> Photo Stream.)

Tap the Plus (+) button to create a new stream. You’ll be prompted to give the stream a name and invite some friends via email—but don’t worry, if you forget somebody; you can always add them later. You’ll also see an option to create a Public Website—more on that in a bit.

Once you’ve created a Shared Photo Stream, your friends will be notified by email that they’ve been invited; if they’re Mac or iOS users, they’ll also get a push notification. If they choose to join, your Shared Photo Stream will automatically appear in their Photos app.

To add a photo or photos to the stream, just go to the Photos tab of the Photos app and tap the Edit button. Select the photo or photos you want to add by tapping them, then tap the Share button. You’ll see an option for Photo Stream. Select that and you’ll be prompted to choose which of your Shared Photo Streams you’d like to add the picture to, as well as optionally enter a comment.

As if by magic, that photo will automatically appear on your friend’s devices. They can add a comment or “like” the picture. Unfortunately, your friends can’t add their own pictures to your shared stream.

But what if your friends don’t have Macs or iOS devices? That’s where that Public Website option from before comes in. Go back to the Photo Stream tab of the Photos app and tap the Edit button, then select a Shared Photo Stream. This is where you can also invite additional friends that you may have forgotten the first time around, or remove people you no longer want to have access to the stream.

Slide the Public Website switch to On and you’ll be provided with a URL where anyone can view your pictures (provided, of course, that they have this URL). There’s even a handy Share Link button to simplify the process. Note that people viewing your photos via the Web won’t be able to comment on them or “like” them—though I’m sure they’ll really like them just fine.

I’m Dan Moren. Thanks for watching.

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