Using iCloud for Family Photos

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OK having spent a year doing this, if you and your family are all iPhones and Macs, then this is a pretty good solution that is powerful and highly secure and private. That’s because Apple is one of the few companies that encrypts all your photos so they can’t see it. It has limitations, for instance, you have to use your own machines for face and object recognition, but it is a pretty powerful way to have controlled sharing. Here is what you get:

  1. All your photos and videos on your Macs and phones are backed up into the cloud.
  2. You can share photos to anyone with an iCloud account. This is limited to 4 megapixel images, so they are good for photos and printing out small photos if you need to. This covers for me, 99.9% of all my uses.
  3. You can also take snapshots of this data and save it on another backup machine or somewhere else.

Here are the steps:

  1. Sign up for a bigger iCloud plan. For $10/month, you get 2TB of iCloud storage. This can be shared with up to five people (so it works for small families).
  2. When you sign up, you then go to your iCloud account and add Family Members. These are separate iCloud accounts and each person’s phone and computer should be signed into that account.
  3. Now turn on iCloud Sharing for Photos and Shared Albums on all the machines, this will automatically upload all the photos in your phone and Macs into the cloud. It is encrypted by your client so Apple can’t see any of your data, they are all encrypted blobs.
  4. Now when you want to share some photos, Create a shared album and copy the photos in. You can then add people (who have iCloud accounts) to that list and they can view it on their own devices. For non-Apple lovers, you do get a website, but not much else for viewing, so this doesn’t super well for mixed Android and Apple families.

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