How to share Photo Streams with people who don't use iPhones, iPads, or Macs

How to share a Photo Stream with someone not using an iPhone or iPad

Photo Stream not only gives you an amazingly convenient way to wirelessly back up your photos and access them across all your Apple devices, it also gives you a way to easily share them with your friends and family. Thanks to iCloud, you can even use shared Photo Streams to comment and collaborate with other iPhone and iPad owners. But what if your friends and family aren't using iPhones, iPads, or Macs?

How to share a Photo Stream with people not using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac

  1. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on the Shared in the bottom navigation.
  3. Tap on the Photo Stream you'd like to share to open it.
  4. Tap on People at the bottom.
  5. Turn On the option for Public Website.
  6. Tap on Share Link when it appears directly below the Public Website option.
  7. Tap on the method you'd like to use to share it.

Anyone you give that URL to will be able to access your shared Photo Stream from any browser.

Keep in mind this does turn that particular shared Photo Stream into a public site of sorts. There isn't anything in the URL that would make it easily searchable on a site like Google but the internet is the internet, so make sure nothing you don't want seen by the general public is made public. (You can, of course, unpublish it just as easy as you published it by following the same steps as laid out above. )

Have you ever used iCloud in this way to make Photo Streams available to anyone? It is something your friends and family have enjoyed and found easy to use if not using an iPhone or iPad? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

Note: Originally published June 2013. Updated May 2014.

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to share Photo Streams with people who don't use iPhones, iPads, or Macs


There is a big issue on Photostream and I'm surprised nobody is complaining about.

Let's say that I'm on vacation overseas and I want to create a shared album to add all photos from my vacation, I'll create a new Shared Photostream Album with my family and friends and I'll start adding all the interesting photos to that album then all my family and friends can get updates on my trip.

it sounds wonderful and that is how it should work but unfortunately all the photos I'm sharing in that photostream instead of staying in the cloud and be "streamed" on demand to the shared contacts in the photostream, the will be downloaded(!) to each shared contact device or Mac, this is no "Photostreaming" like you should see on Picasa or any other photo sharing app, you will go to their server and you will see the photos as needed and then when you close the app or website they will not stay in your device, in iOS and OSX Photostreams all photos are actually physically downloaded to all shared contacts devices, if I decide to share 6GB of photos then my mother, my father, my brother, my friends etc will receive 6GB of photos on their devices and that will eat all the available space defeating the iCloud concept of all your data in the cloud, it is cool to share photos with everybody but not to clog their devices with gigabytes of data.
Adobe Revel does it right as they will just save a very small amount of info about your gallery and not the whole photo gallery but I do not want to use a their party software.

We have stopped using this feature with all family and friends.

The very thing you are complaining about is solved by the advice in this article. You are so hot to complain, that you either don't notice this, or (rudely), don't give a sh*t.

Actually, iOS6 removes local copy of shared photo stream automatically if the device is running low of storage. It won't re-download them until you view the album again. I like the current implementation since photos shared from my family/friends are quite important to me. I would hate waiting for them to download every time I looked at them especially when I am offline (like I was traveling). However, I do turn off My Photo Stream since I don't really need another copy of my current camera roll.

But what will happen if the album was removed because you are low on storage but you want to view that again and also you just received 10 shared Photostreams from 10 different friends with about 1gb of incoming data and you've accepted them all? The waiting to download time is almost non existent if there is a small cache in the app in the same way as the "Web Albums" app that shows Picasa photos, we use that app and upload everything to Picasa (something I really hate to do) and I share 86GB of photos with my family overseas, it will take less than a second to show the photos from an album and if you want you just cache the whole album(s) for offline viewing too.

Use third party apps for now if it's a huge concern.

Picasa, myshoebox, (new)flickr + third party flickr apps, are all solutions to your problem. They just won't be as elegant. If Apple collects enough data on people that are flocking to third party apps, they'll definitely start investigating, or perhaps already have.

App selection is a key advantage of ios device. Lots to choose from that will meet your requirements of sharing a web/cloud album, without the clunky-ness of sharing URLs.

when you share a photo, only a "best version" is downloades to target device ... i have 1,3GB shared, but on my iphone has only 244MB.

That is strange, I've use this extensively with my family for the past year and my mother overseas just stopped using the service as she is using a 16gb iPad already full of apps and her own photos, videos etc and she could not keep filling her iPad with al my shared albums.

I've tested today again with my iPhone 5 and my son's iPad mini, if I share 1 gb of photos with him as soon as he opens the shared album photos will start to load slowly, at the beginning not too much data shown on your Photostream usage settings but if you leave the device on standby for a couple of hours the full 1gb will be there.

I've posted this same issue in the Apple Discussion forums a year ago and people agreed about this feature (?) and I was hoping Apple will show something new at WWDC regarding Photos and iCloud but little was shown.

I also tested Shared Photo Stream extensively. I did that because I was wondering why iPhoto app on my iPhone 4S (& 5 as well) kept telling me the photos are 3MP but they should be 8MP. I tried syncing them to my Mac and then found that they are all 3MP except the photos in My Photo Stream (which are 8MP on Mac but iPhoto on iPhone said 3MP). My conclusion is that Apple makes that on purpose to "speed up" the process of photos download as well as photos viewing. I used to have a Galaxy Tab 2 (10") and it took about half second (or 1 second) to show next photo (from blur to crystal clear) because Android doesn't do this "trick" and trying to show a full 8MP photo. Well, but it felt the device was so lagging and eventually I sold that stupid copycat. :)

You are right. Shared Photo Stream downgraded photos to 3MP no matter what device (Mac, iPhone or iPad) you have. However, My Photo Stream is different. It stores local copy with 3MP on iPhone or iPad but up to 8MP on Mac.

Thanks Allyson. I use photo stream all the time. Although my biggest issue is that only one person can own the stream and add photos. Is there anyway (that you know of), to create a truly "shared" photo stream and give multiple people the power to add photos to the same stream? More of a collaboration rather than one person pushing photos to multiple sources.

For example, if some buddies and I went on a road trip and we all take photos separately, can they all add theirs to the main photo stream album?

I am on ios7 (beta 2) and the feature is still not there. Do you know this is coming later? Are you referring to using the Airdrop feature?

That is interesting, so if 5 people are sharing to the same photo stream and that photo stream is 2GB all 5 people will have the 2GB of data?

Thanks for republishing this. I was just wondering the other day if there was a way to do this.

Sent from the iMore App

Maybe Apple could focus on an impending Justice Department investigation into criminal business practice that keeps former iMessage users to switch to Android. Before you defend Apple or call the problem fixed, defending Apple only shows how they succeed through blind customer following and criminal business practice. I am WELL versed about this problem and there has been no fix, even Apple claims this 'bug' is a stumper! If it were the other way around, Apple legions would be setting themselves afire in the streets!

Feel free to elaborate with details.

You say you're "well versed." What evidence to you have of as you put it a "criminal business practice?" What law or statute have they broken? By whom? How? And what's the source of this evidence information?

Thanks for this. As my daughter recently switched from an iPhone to an S5, I can still share photos with her that she wants to have.

after creating a stream,i turned on public website...but it comes publishing since morning...and i dont see the option for share much time will it take???

Does anyone know if you can turn off the download facility on the public website? I haven't been able to find a way. Thanks, Paul.