Me and my wife have separate Itunes accounts and have separate users on our Mac computer. Once we upload our photos to our computer to our own accounts we delete them from our devices.

Is there a way that we can view each other's photos without having to switch between accounts? Since I have tons of photos I wouldn't want to pay for ICloud to have them sync. For example I have tons of pictures of our son and she wants to print some of them.

FYI I am using the new Apple Photos App and we have tons of pictures.

  • I have created a third account especially for the 'shared' photo library. Letting more than one user work on a library creates all nasty errors. Jun 22, 2015 at 20:58

4 Answers 4


I guess this is what you're looking for:

  1. Enable iCloud's Family Sharing and iCloud Photo Sharing

    If you have iCloud's Family Sharing and iCloud Photo Sharing enabled, you'll see a special album called "Family" in the Shared tab of the Photos for OS X app, as well as the Shared section of the Photos app on iPhone and iPad. This album will automatically sync with all members within your Family Sharing group.

  2. Share your photos

    To add photos to the shared stream, select them and click the Share button. From there, choose iCloud Photo Library, and select the
    Family album. The images will then sync over to your family member's device.

If you need a deeper explanation: http://www.imore.com/how-use-iclouds-family-sharing-photos-os-x

  • 1
    This way would only work if I didn't have tons of photos. I have over 1TB of photos. I would hate to pay monthly just to share photos.
    – albertski
    Jun 19, 2015 at 22:00
  • Actually I'm going to take back my previous comment. I believe that iCloud Photo Sharing doesn't count against your iCloud storage.
    – albertski
    Jun 22, 2015 at 15:11
  • 2
    One problem of using iCloud Photo Sharing is that if you download the image it isn't the same quality?
    – albertski
    Oct 14, 2015 at 19:28

To share the same Photo library between multiple users on the same Mac, do the following :

  • Move the existing library into "/Users/Shared/Pictures/PhotoLibrary"
  • Select the library parent directory (eg "Pictures") and click "Get info"
  • Click on the padlock icon on the bottom right and enter an administrator password
  • Click the "+" icon and select the second user which must have access to the photo library, for instance "user2"
  • Click on the row "user2" and select in dropdown "Read and write"
  • Click on the row "user2" and click on the "gear" icon at the bottom, and select "Apply to Enclosed Items" in the drop-down menu.
  • Click "OK".
  • Launch iPhoto with the Option key held down, select "Other library", and choose the photo library.

Tested under MacOS 10.11

  • What about concurrent read/write access? I guess this solution only works with disciplined use: As a user in such a setup you must ensuring that photo app is closed as soon as you do fast user switching between accounts.
    – porg
    Mar 3, 2019 at 2:35
  • OP clearly stated he was interested in the new Apple's Photos app - not iPhoto. I'm not at all sure this trick would work with Photos app (being more tightly bound to the iCloud service). Also your solution does not explain what will happen to their two "iTunes accounts" (i.e. iCloud accounts) if they share the same Photos library on the Mac drive. Mar 1, 2020 at 20:29

You can enable iCloud Photo Sharing and create shared albums; this is free and you don't have to upload your whole library (which in this case will probably force you to pay for an upgraded iCloud plan).

How to set it up (from the iCloud Photo Sharing FAQ):


  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
  2. Click iCloud, then select Photos.
  3. Turn on Photo Sharing in one of these applications:

    • iPhoto: Choose iPhoto > Preferences. Click iCloud, then select Photo Sharing.
    • Aperture: Choose Aperture > Preferences. Click iCloud, then select Photo Sharing.

This looks slightly outdated, but the option is still there in Yosemite and Photos.app:

Photos.app iCloud Photo Sharing On

Interestingly, it says that sharing albums does not count on your iCloud quota:

Does iCloud Photo Sharing use my iCloud storage?

No. Photos and videos uploaded to iCloud Photo Sharing don't count against your iCloud storage.

I don't know if this still the case.

  • I think the correct interpretation is: Once you uploaded a photo to iCloud storage - sharing it via "iCloud Photo Sharing" will not count it again when calculating your photo storage size. But if you haven't uploaded the photo to iCloud storage - it will. Mar 1, 2020 at 20:40

There now appears to be a limit of 5000 photographs on this.

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