How to share Photo Streams with friends and family not using an iPhone or iPad

How to share Photo Streams with friends and family not using an iPhone or iPad

If you snap lots of photos with your iPhone and use Photo Stream to sync them between your iPad and other devices, odds are you probably share them with iPhone and iPad using friends and relatives as well.

But what about the friends and family members that don't own iOS devices? There's actually no need to leave them out! You can give them access to your shared Photo Streams as well. Here's how:

The way to allow non-iOS users to view your shared Photo Streams is actually quite simple. You can just make them a public website that will have its own unique URL. You can then share that URL with friends and family members whenever you'd like. Here's where to get it:

  1. Launch the Photos app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on the Photo Stream tab in the bottom navigation.
  3. From here tap on the blue arrow next to the shared Photo Stream you'd like to make public.
  4. Towards the bottom there is an option for Public Website, enable it by turning it to On.
  5. Now tap on Share Link after it's generated. You'll then be able to copy it to the clipboard or share it many various ways regardless of what mobile platform someone is using.

Anyone you give that URL to will be able to access your shared Photo Stream from any browser. Simple as that. 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 keep in mind anyone with a link will have access to it.

You can, of course, unpublish it just as easy as you published it by following the same steps as laid out above.

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 15 comments. Add yours.

r3b3lspy says:

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.

Gazoobee says:

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.

r3b3lspy says:

Wrong, I don't want to share a website, and both to your comment.

dlaume says:

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.

r3b3lspy says:

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.

GlowingBlue says:

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.

luizeof says:

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.

r3b3lspy says:

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.

dlaume says:

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. :)

dlaume says:

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.

OnlyOneJK says:

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?

dlaume says:

you will be able to do that with iOS7.

OnlyOneJK says:

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?

OnlyOneJK says:

Ok, I tried it with another person on ios7 and it works. Thanks dlaume

r3b3lspy says:

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?