How to set up iCloud Photo Library and Photo Sharing on Apple TV

Apple TV iCloud Photos
Apple TV iCloud Photos (Image credit: iMore)

iCloud Photo Library is part of iCloud, Apple's storage and sync service. When combined with one of iCloud's paid storage tiers, you can use it to store thousands of photos and videos and share it with your other devices — including your Apple TV.

Unlike Apple's other devices, however, your Apple TV can't download images from your Photos library. Instead, it relies solely on iCloud streaming. Before you can display your photos and video on your TV, you'll first need to set up the iCloud Photo Library.

How can I view photos on Apple TV?

You have a few different choices when it comes to viewing images on your Apple TV, depending on what you plan to showcase.

  • iCloud Photo Library: If you turn on the iCloud Photo Library, you'll stream your entire collection of images and videos to your TV — if you have items in your photo collection you wouldn't want to share on the big screen, keep that in mind.
  • iCloud Photo Sharing: You can use this to only share albums you've shared with friends and family (or vice versa).

How to enable iCloud Photo Library

When you turn on the iCloud Photo Library, every image and video you've stored will be available on your TV. This is great if you don't mind people going through your image collection (or you live alone), but keep in mind that if you have guests, you may not want to keep this setting enabled.

  1. Tap on the Settings app on your Apple TV.
  2. Click Users and Accounts.
  3. Choose iCloud under Apple TV Accounts.

  1. Click Sign In.
  2. Enter your Apple ID and password
  3. Toggle on iCloud Photos.

How to enable iCloud Photo Sharing

If you select iCloud Photo Sharing, your Apple TV will have access to any albums you've shared with friends (or they've shared with you). You can use this setting in tandem with iCloud Photo Library or in isolation (if you don't want your entire image library accessible inside your living room).

  1. Tap on the Settings app on your Apple TV.
  2. Click Users and Accounts.
  3. Choose iCloud under Apple TV Accounts.
  4. Toggle on Share Albums.

Apple TV iCloud Photos Shared (Image credit: iMore)

Any questions?

Is there anything else you'd like to know about turning on and using the iCloud Photo Library on Apple TV? Do you have a tip or suggestion? Let us know in the comments.

Updated January 2020: Includes information for tvOS 13.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.