This story has been updated. It was originally published on February 9, 2018.
When you have a photo to show, you don’t have to paste it anywhere on your Twitter or Instagram accounts so that the whole world can see it. For example, you may want to show a picture of your adorable child to his grandparents – without allowing Facebook to record facial features for the offspring. Fortunately, many apps will help you share a photo with only a select group of people.
To choose the best method, you will need to consider several things, such as the cloud service you already use to store your photos, and the technical know-how of the people you plan to share these images with – e.g. If your grandparents only have email, private chat on WhatsApp can’t be talked about.
Cloud storage services
If you’re already backing up your photos with cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive, you can use these programs to create shared folders. While selected invite groups can view and add to the contents of these folders, outsiders do not have access to them. This option is simple and effective, but if you exceed your free storage quota, you may have to pay for more space.
[Related: How to get the most space in your cloud storage—without paying to upgrade]
Dropbox excels at sharing folders. Start by creating a folder with the photos you plan to share. Open this folder in the web interface, click Titleand enter other people’s email addresses to invite them to join. When they receive your invitation, they can sync the folder with their own Dropbox if they have an account, or view the photos in a web browser if they don’t. You get 2GB of free space and then you have to pay to earn more space – 2TB of storage costs $ 120 a year.
Google Drive works on similar lines. Open a folder in the web interface, click the folder name at the top of the page, and select Title. As with Dropbox, you can invite others by email and then they can access the folder through their own Google Drive accounts or by browsing the folder in a web browser. Google gives you 15 GB shared between Drive, Photos and Gmail, for free. If that’s not enough, you can ask for upgrades that start at $ 2 per month for 100GB of space.
Fans of Windows or Microsoft applications may prefer OneDrive. From the web portal, go to a folder and then click Title to start photo madness. You will receive 5GB of free space, and upgrades start at $ 2 per month for a 100GB room.
How about Apple fans? Log in iCloudopen or create a folder and click sharing icon (silhouette of a man next to a plus sign). Then add the emails or phone numbers of the people you want to share it with. It’s as simple as everyone else.
Google Photos and Apple Photos
These apps – Google Photos is built into Android, and Apple Photos – on iOS – offer quick and easy ways to share stored images with a small group of people. They are a good option if you already use the services for archiving your photos and if your contacts also use them.
Between the two, Google Photos has the advantage of offering applications for both Android and iOS (Apple Photos works best if all participants, both sharers and recipients, have a Mac, iPhone, or iPad). If you’re using Google Photos on a computer, move the cursor over the image you want to select, then click the white circle around the box. Choose any other photos (by clicking or holding individual images Shift and clicking on a second image to take everything in between). On your phone or tablet, press and hold a photo to select it, then slide your finger to select a group, or tap each one. When you have finished selecting photos, press Title a button that looks like an up arrow box in the iOS app and a side V in the Android app. If your contacts also use Google Photos, you can add these photos to a shared folder that friends can view and add photos to. Alternatively, if they don’t have Google Accounts, you can send them an email with a link to follow to see the shared photos in their web browsers.
[Related: The one move that will select all the photos on your phone]
With Apple Photos, it’s best to do sharing from your phone. Launch the Photos app, select Chooseselect the photos you want to share and tap share button in the lower left corner. Choose from here Add to shared album to create a shared photo folder that anyone with an iOS or macOS device can join. Don’t see this option? Open up Settings application, tap Photosand turn the switch to Shared albums. If you share photos with people who use Android or Windows systems, you’ll need to click mail option instead. This will send the photos to your recipients as attached emails.
Private Facebook groups
You may be reluctant to share photos with all your Facebook contacts, but the social network has tools to restrict people from seeing your posts. And one of these tools is the private group.
Of course, these groups are a good virtual meeting place for your children’s football teams and your old college friends, but you can also use them to share personal images. Open the Facebook website, click Groups on the left side of the page, then select Create a new group. From Choose privacy drop-down menu, select Private. Name the group, add your chosen members and only those invited will be able to see inside.
This option works best when many friends and family members want to post photos of children as they grow up, or add images from special occasions such as parties and weddings. It is also ideal for a chatty group who likes to leave comments. As an added bonus, most people you want to invite will now have a Facebook account.
If you don’t care about organizing and archiving your photos, try an option that is quick and easy: Start a group instant messaging chat and start posting photos to it. Choose this handy method if you want group members to see new photos pop up on their phones immediately, or if you want to allow them to leave comments and informal chats between images. However, unlike some of the other options on this list, this one isn’t great for retrieving older photos, viewing photos as a gallery, or organizing your photos.
You can choose almost any messaging app, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Chat, iMessage and Instagram. Just make sure all the people you want to share with have the same app installed.
[Related: 6 secure alternatives to WhatsApp]
Also keep in mind that some of these apps make it easy to view photos you’ve already posted. For example, in a Facebook Messenger conversation, you can see all the photos that have been shared in the group by tapping chat name at the top and scroll down to find View media and files. In WhatsApp you can also see the photos that have been published in the thread: On an Android device tap menu button (three points) in the upper right corner and select Media; on iOS, tap the theme title and select Media links and documents.
The main advantage of email is that it works anywhere (on laptops and phones with any description) and for anyone (even those who do not have a Facebook account or have a smartphone can handle an email address). So create a shared inbox and give a small group access to your login information, allowing members to add or view picture emails from any device or location.
To get started, create a new email account using the service you prefer. Then share your login details, ideally by word of mouth, so they can’t be hacked, with your trusted friends. To add new photos, simply send a message to the new address by attaching one or more photos to your email and using the subject headers and body text to include descriptions.
This option will not provide the organization and editing tools that Apple Photos and Google Photos will, but it is simple, effective, and widely available to people with less understanding of technology. As a bonus, you can hide your personal email address when sending messages to the shared account, thus safely archiving all images.