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Can You Explain Support for Photos In iCloud?

In MacOS and iOS, iCloud Photos settings has options for three services: (1) ‘iCloud Photo Library’, (2) ‘My Photo Stream’ and (3) ‘iCloud Photo Sharing’. I’m a bit confused. Can you clarify what these three services do? Do some of their functions overlap? How do they impact iCloud storage allocation and costs?

I have two iPhones, two iPad Pro’s, two Macs and two Apple TVs. I take many photos with a DSLR and of course photos and videos with my iOS devices. I’m trying to figure out how best to manage my iOS image media, hopefully without needing to go to ever higher iCloud storage costs.
Vincent Cina

Comments: One Response to “Can You Explain Support for Photos In iCloud?”

    3 years ago

    iCloud Photo Library is the real cloud service. That’s the big one. It means you have one photo library, all shared between all of your devices. Take a picture on your iPhone, it appears in your library on all devices. Edit a photo on your Mac, the edits are shown on all devices. It keeps all of your photos in sync all of the time without you needing to do anything.

    Photo Stream is the older option. It predates iCloud Photo Library. When you use it, and take a picture on your iPhone, it goes into Photo Stream. Think of it as a temporary holding place. The most recent 1,000 photos from the last 30 days are stored there. Your Mac’s Photos app can then see that holding place and use it to import those new photos. Basically, photos stream from your iPhone to your Mac as you take them.

    Photo Stream is not really useful if you are using iCloud Photo Library. I haven’t used Photo Stream since iCloud Photo Library was introduced. It may have some special uses for people with special set-ups, but I don’t recommend using it unless you have a very good reason.

    iCloud Photo Sharing is simply an extra service where you can create online photo albums and share them with other people. It complements iCloud Photo Library. You can pick out a bunch of photos, create an online shared album, and then send the link to others so they can see the photos.

    For most users, using iCloud Photo Library is wonderful. And then having iCloud Photo Sharing turned on in case you want to use it is also good. But Photo Stream isn’t something you need.

    Here is some more information: About iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream .
    iCloud Photo Library .
    iCloud Photo Sharing.

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