Anyone who owns a smartphone carries with them a high-quality camera capable of taking scores of stunning images. We’ve become visual communicators and, as the popular saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words. But how can you get your pictures off your iPhone or Android phone and onto social media and photo-sharing platforms? And how can you share them privately to a friend’s device? We’ve got all the answers in this simple guide to photo sharing.

The Basics of Photo Sharing

In among the thousands of photos you likely have on your smartphone, there are some you will want to share with loved ones – and it’s straightforward.

Photo sharing from your iPhone or Android smartphone: share icons

On an iPhone, open the Photos app and select the photo (or video) you’d like to share. Open the photo and look for the share icon in the bottom left corner – it looks like a box with an arrow pointing up at the top of it. Tap this icon and you’ll see a range of options including Messages, Mail and social media apps. When you select one of these options, your phone will open a new email, message or social media post with your selected image already attached. All you need to do is select the recipient and hit send.

On an Android device, the share icon looks different: look for a sideways V with three dots on each point of the V. Open your Gallery or Google Photos app, select this share icon and your sharing choices will be displayed, including the ability to share through apps such as Google Drive, Gmail and Messages. Select your preferred option, its recipient and hit send.

Hot Tip: Image quality is greatly reduced when you share images via text between iOS and Android devices. To maintain the image’s resolution, use apps such as Messenger or WhatsApp instead.

Photo Sharing to Social Media

Photo sharing guide: how to share images on your smartphone to social media platforms

There are two ways you can share images on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The first is via the sharing option outlined above. All you need to do is select which app you would like to post to in the sharing options, and then follow the prompts.

The second way is to import the image directly into the social media application. When you begin a new post on Facebook or Twitter, look for the icon that looks like a small photo. Touching this symbol opens up your camera roll and allows you to select one or multiple images to include with the post. For Instagram, press the plus symbol to access and then post your photos.

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Sharing via iCloud

iCloud also makes it easy to share albums from your iPhone camera roll. You can enable iCloud photos in Settings > Photos > iCloud Photos > toggle to move the bar to On. This means you can share images and albums from any of your iOS devices (as long as they are all signed in to the same Apple ID).

To share an album, go to the Photos app, choose a photo, hit the share icon and scroll down to “Add To Shared Album”. If you have never shared an album before, you also get the chance to name the shared album. If you have shared an album before, the name of the last album shared will be seen here. Once named, choose the contacts you’d like to share it with. A new window will open, which has room for a comment or caption, then hit Send.

Hot Tip: Send photos via AirDrop
AirDrop is a temporary wireless connection between two iPhones or Apple devices. (Turn it on in Settings > General > AirDrop.) Select the photos or videos you want to share, hit the share icon and select AirDrop (look for an icon with blue and white concentric circles) and your device will show the people near you who can receive them.

Sharing Directly Between Android Devices

Photo sharing between iPhone and Android phones using AirDrop and Nearby Share

Android’s Nearby Share function works when two phones close to each other have Bluetooth and WiFi turned on. Select the photo or photos you want to share, hit the share icon (V on its side) and select Nearby Share (the icon looks like two lines wrapping around each other). The phone will search for users near you. Select the recipient when their device appears and the images will be directly transferred to them.

Sharing via Google Photos

The Google Photos app is available on Android smartphones and iPhones and is a great way to share your images and albums. Google Photos offers users the option to back-up and sync images from their phone’s Gallery or Photos apps. To share through Google Photos, select the items you want to send, tap the “+” icon and then tap “Shared Album” and give it a name. Tap “Share” and select a contact. If you are sending one image, there is no need to create an album or give it a name. You can share directly with a person who has a Google account or create a link for them to access your album.