This story has been updated. It was originally published on February 9, 2018.
When you have a photo you want to share, it doesn’t mean you should post it everywhere. For example, you might want to display a photo of your adorable tot for his grandparents–without giving Facebook the opportunity to record his facial features for posterity. There are many apps that will allow you to share photos with a limited number of people.
To choose the best method for you, consider the cloud service you use to store your images , and the technical knowledge of the people you intend to share them with. For example, if you only have email access, a private WhatsApp conversation is not an option.
Cloud storage services
If you already back up your photos with cloud-storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive, you can use these programs to create shared folders. Only invited guests can see and edit the folder contents, but no one else has access to them. This is a simple and effective option, however, if you need more storage than your free allowance, you might have to pay extra.
Dropbox excels at sharing folders. Create a folder with the photos you want to share. Open this folder in the web interface, click Share, and enter other people’s email addresses to invite them to join. Once they receive your invitation they will be able to sync the folder into their Dropbox account if they already have one, or view the photos in a browser if not. You get 2GB of space for free, and after that, you’ll have to pay to gain more space–2TB of storage costs $120 a year.
Google Drive works along similar lines. Open a folder in the web interface, click on the folder’s name at the top of the page, and choose Share. You can invite others to Dropbox via email. They can access the folder using their Google Drive accounts, or view it in a web browser. Google gives you 15GB, shared between Drive, Photos, and Gmail, for free. If that’s not enough, you can pony up for upgrades, which start at $2 a month for 100GB of space.
Windows or Microsoft app fans might prefer OneDrive. From the web portal, go into a folder, and then click Share to let the photo frenzy begin. You’ll get 5GB of space for free, and upgrades start at $2 a month for 100GB of room.
What about Apple devotees? Sign into iCloud, open or create a folder, and click the share icon (a silhouette of a person next to a plus sign). Add the email addresses or phone numbers of those you wish to share it with. It’s that simple, just like the rest.
Google Photos and Apple Photos
These apps–Google Photos comes built into Android and Apple Photos into iOS–offer quick and easy ways to share any of your stored images with a small group of people. These apps are a great option if you already use these services to backup your photos and if your contacts also use them.
Between the two, Google Photos has an advantage because it offers apps for both Android and iOS (Apple Photos works best if all participants, sharer and recipient alike, have a Mac, iPhone, or iPad). When you are using Google Photos on a PC, drag your cursor over the image that you wish to select and then click the check mark in the circle. Select any other photos (by clicking on separate images or holding Shift and clicking a second image to grab everything between the two). To select a photo on your phone or tablet, hold down the long-press button and drag your finger to select a few or all of them. When you’re done picking photos, hit the Share button, which looks like a box with an upward arrow in the iOS app and a sideways V in the Android one. You can also add the photos to a shared folder for friends who use Google Photos. If they don’t have Google Accounts, you can send them a link to view the shared photos from their web browsers.
With Apple Photos, it’s best to do the sharing from your phone. Launch the Photos app, choose Select, pick the photos you’d like to share, and tap the share button in the lower left. From here, pick Add to Shared Album to create a shared folder of pictures that anyone with an iOS or macOS device can join. Are you unable to see this option? Open the Settings app, tap Photos, and turn on the toggle switch next to Shared Albums. If you’re sharing pictures with people who use Android or Windows systems, you’ll have to hit the Mail option instead. This will send the photos as an email attachment to your recipients.
Private Facebook groups
You may be reticent to share photos with all of your Facebook contacts, but the social network does have tools for limiting the people who see your posts. Private groups are one such tool.
Sure, these groups make a good virtual meeting place for your kids’ soccer teams and your old college friends, but you can also use them for private image sharing. Open the Facebook website, click Groups on the left of the page, then choose Create new group. From the Choose privacy dropdown menu, select Private. Name the group and add the members you choose. Only those invited can see in.
This option works best when multiple friends and family members want to post pictures of kids as they grow up, or add im