How to Use iCloud Photo Library on Your iPad

 My Photo Stream was Apple's first attempt at photo sharing across iOS devices, and while it did the job, it wasn't the most efficient system. Photo Stream sent full-sized photos to all devices, but since this could quickly eat through storage space, photos on the stream would disappear after a few months.

What is iCloud Photo Library?

A woman holding an iPad
Public Domain / Pixabay 

Enter iCloud Photo Library. Apple's new photo-sharing solution stores photos permanently on the cloud, allowing your iPad or iPhone to share photos more efficiently. You can also view the iCloud Photo Library on your Mac or Windows-based PC.

iCloud Photo Library synchronizes your photos by automatically uploading new photos to iCloud after they are taken. You can then view the photos across all devices that have the feature turned on.

How to Turn On iCloud Photo Library on Your iPad

The iCloud Settings on the iPad

To access your iCloud photos, the first thing you must do is turn on the iCloud Photo Library service. While technically still in beta, you can fully use iCloud Photo Library as long as your iPad is updated to the latest version of iOS. Here's how to turn on the service:

  1. Open the iPad's Settings app.
  2. On the left-side menu, scroll down and tap "iCloud".
  3. In the iCloud settings, choose "Photos".
  4. The option to turn on iCloud Photo Library will be at the top of the screen.
  5. The "Optimize iPhone Storage" option will download thumbnail versions of the photos when the iPad is low on space.
  6. The "Upload to My Photo Stream" option will synchronize the full images across devices with this option turned on. This is useful if you need access to the photos even when you don't have an Internet connection.
  7. If you would like to create custom photo albums to share with a group of friends, you should turn on "iCloud Photo Sharing". This lets you created shared photo albums and invite friends to view the photos.

How to View Photos in the iCloud Photo Library

The Photos app

There is nothing special you need to do in order to view iCloud Photo Library photos and videos on your iPad. Photos and video were taken on another devices are downloaded and stored in your iPad's camera roll exactly as if you took the photo on your iPad, so you can view them in the Photos app on your iPad.

If you are low on space and have chosen to optimize the storage, you will still see thumbnail versions of the photos and the full-size photo will download when you tap on it. However, you will need to be connected to the Internet for this to work.

You can also view your photo library on your Mac or Windows-based PC. If you have a Mac, you can use the Photos app to view them the same as on your iPad. On a Windows-based computer, you can view them from the "iCloud Photos" section of the File Explorer. Both the Mac and Windows-based PCs can use to view the photo library.