How to Use iCloud Links to Share Photos

Plus, how to open iCloud links

iCloud is one of the fundamental services that Apple brought to the table with its ecosystem of devices. Apple uses iCloud for everything from backups, to device interoperability, to photos, and it's that last one is particularly useful.

You may already know how to set up shared albums for photos, but there's another, quicker way to share photos and that's by using iCloud links.

How to Use iCloud Links to Share Photos

iCloud links are generated in the same share page as other methods of sharing.

  1. Open Photos.

  2. Tap the photo or photos you want to share.

  3. Tap Share.

  4. Scroll down and tap Copy iCloud Link.

    Getting an iCloud link on iPhone.
  5. After a short 'preparing' screen the link will be copied to your clipboard and you can paste the link into the communications tool of your choice. When your recipient receives the link (or someone else sends a link to you), just tap or click it. If the recipient is on an iOS device, the photo will open in the Photos app. If not, the photo will open in a browser. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of iCloud Photo Sharing

The key benefit here is simplicity. iCloud links work for anyone, across all platforms. If they have a web browser and the means to receive the message, they're good to go. That leads to another key benefit—you can send an iCloud link through any text communication you want. That includes email, Whatsapp, Facebook messenger, SMS and more.

Also, since most iPhones back up photos to iCloud anyway, the photo is most likely already there. That means you don't have to wait for the photo to upload before getting the link.

How to Remove iCloud Sharing

The main downside is that by default iCloud links only work for 30 days. After that, the sharing stops. While this is definitely a security benefit, it has obvious downsides as well. If you don't want to wait the full 30 days, you can stop sharing sooner. Here's how to do that.

  1. Open Photos.

  2. Tap For You.

  3. Scroll down to Recently Shared.

  4. Tap the photo from which you want to remove sharing permissions.

  5. Tap the three dot icon in the upper right corner.

    The For You and Recently Shared options on Photos for iPhone.
  6. Tap Stop Sharing.

  7. Tap the second Stop Sharing button.

    The stop sharing option for iCloud Link photo sharing.

Just like that, sharing permissions will be removed and the links that other people have will no longer work.

How to Retrieve an Already Shared iCloud Link

Similarly if you already shared out a photo and want to get the link again later, you can find that in the For You tab.

  1. Open Photos.

  2. Tap For You.

  3. Scroll down to Recently Shared and tap the photo you want to share.

  4. Tap the triple dots in the upper right corner.

  5. Tap Copy iCloud Link.

    The Copy iCloud Link option in iPhone Photos.

The link will be copied to your clipboard and you can paste it into whatever messaging service you'd like. iCloud link sharing is a great way to share photos with others utilizing the same infrastructure that has been with Apple from the early days.