Two issues with iCloud Photo Sharing

Where do comments go when you remove items from shared albums?

icloud photo library hardware

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Stéphane Rainville writes in wondering about how to preserve comments on photos in shared albums. (Shared albums work with iCloud Photo Sharing, but also using iPhoto and iOS 7 as “shared streams.”):

I’ve been using shared albums to show pictures of our newborn daughter to our extended family. Now, after sharing 1,269 photos, I’m sure I’m taxing people’s local storage on their iPads/iPhones, and so I’d like to start archiving. Most precious, however, are the comments everyone has made on individual pictures, and I haven’t found a way to archive while preserving comments.

Unfortunately, Apple documents in a few places that while you can back up shared photo albums that aren’t persistent—that aren’t part of your iCloud Photo Library, if you use that feature—comments aren’t attached. They’re only stored online. This is unfortunate, because you’ll lose those forever unless you take screen captures, print PDFs, or the like.

This is definitely an advantage to other photo services, like Flickr, and even Facebook, which have their disadvantages and peculiarities, but which preserve comments indefinitely. That’s not an answer for this situation, but something to consider alongside convenience. Those two services, Google Photos, and many others can integrate directly with iOS and OS X to allow automatic or simple uploading of photos you, and then let you create shared albums, too.

One strategy that might work for Stéphane? Disable the sharing without deleting the shared albums, but don’t delete the photos and create new albums for your extended family that you rotate through over time. If you’re paying for iCloud Photo Library, those comments should remain intact over time for you to look at.

Download shared album photos

Nick Benekos wrote in with a related query:

I recently created a shared photo album on my iPhone and invited several people to add pictures to it [for my wedding]. Now that everyone has uploaded their photos how do I download all of them to my Mac?

Yes, everyone who has access to the shared album can download them, but Apple makes you pick and download or import images–sometimes one at a time, depending on the software you’re using to view the album.

  • In iOS, you can select the image, tap the Sharing icon, and tap Save Image.

  • In iPhoto or Aperture, you can copy photos and videos to the local Library.

  • With iCloud Photo Library and Photos for OS X, images are synced to your Mac. (You still may want to copy them to another album to ensure you get full-resolution images downloaded or synced permanently.)

  • You can download images and video from the shared library’s webpage at iCloud one at a time.

You can also use iMazing ($35), a third-party app (available in OS X and Windows versions), that can automated managing and downloading iCloud Shared Albums among many other features.

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