How To Share Photos With Your Loved Ones

I tend to be the main photographer at family gatherings. This is because I have a wonderful camera that takes nice photos, and because I love snapping away and recording these events. I usually end up with some nice shots, and then the problem becomes: how best to share them? My family usually wants to see and download the pictures to be printed or saved, but it’s sometimes tricky to find the best way to accomplish that!

Emailing generally doesn’t work – attaching the photos takes a long time, and you can only send a couple in each email. I used to use primarily Flickr and Facebook, but my family has said that it’s time-consuming and increasingly difficult to download pictures off these websites. When you have grandparents who don’t love technology at the best of times, sending them confusing emails with five sentences of download instructions for Flickr pictures is not the best method! They’re not so good at the right click, options, download thing for each picture. They want one straightforward method to get the whole bunch.

So after Thanksgiving this year, I was determined to find a way to share my pictures that would let my family download them easily to their own computers and then look at them or print them however they’d like. I found a couple great solutions to this problem, which I’ll present in a hierarchy of needs! Enjoy, and happy sharing!

1. Compress into a .zip file

The easiest way to share your pictures, if you don’t have a large number to share, is to compress them. Create a folder, put the images inside, and name it something meaningful. Then it’s usually as simple as a right-click + “Compress”, and your computer will create a .zip file by the same name. This will be a significantly smaller file, and hopefully small enough to attach to an email without much problem. Most computers automatically “decompress” .zip files when you open them, so your family shouldn’t have too many issues downloading and using the photos themselves. There is a good step-by-step guide to compressing for both Windows and Macs here. (note: on my computer, the option is to “compress”, but in the guide it says “archive” – experiment to find out which your computer uses)

2. Dropbox

I (belatedly) signed up for a Dropbox account last night, but I’ve known about the benefits of the program for quite some time. You can put files and images into the Dropbox folder on your computer, and it will automatically be synced to your online profile, and any other computers that you’ve shared the files with. This is a great solution for people who already have a Dropbox account, but the “hassle” of signing up might not be appealing to parents/grandparents. Although, if you plan to make this a long-term sharing solution, helping them sign up for an account might be very useful! Dropbox gives you 2GB of space, so it’s perfect for those large image files. The only downside is that your files can’t be shared with people who don’t have or want a Dropbox account. Which brings us to #3..

3. Mediafire or Rapidshare

These two websites are great for remotely hosting data, available to others without them having to create an account to see it. The downside to both is that you have to create an account to upload! My personal recommendation is Rapidshare, because it offers unlimited uploads, and unlimited file size. Mediafire caps your uploads at 200MB, which was too small for my photo folder! However, Mediafire will store your uploads indefinitely, whereas on Rapidshare they’re only stored for 30 days. They each have their pros and cons, but I’m sure you’ll be able to decide which is a better fit for you based on what you need out of the file storage.

4. Flash Drive

I’ve been operating under the assumption that, like me, you live far enough from your loved ones that online sharing is the best option. But of course using a flash drive to import the pictures onto someone else’s computer is the best, and quickest option! I usually forget to bring my camera’s computer cord home though, so I can’t use this method.

5. Flickr/Facebook

Of course, if you don’t feel like making a new account, Flickr and Facebook will definitely still do the trick. They have the added benefit of your family being able to pick and choose the photos they’d like to save, instead of having to download all of them in a folder. Of course, if your family simply wants to see the pictures and not actually use them for anything, sharing your pictures on one of these websites is probably the best idea! But I don’t know about you, my family is always wanting access to my pictures to print for albums, computer desktops or photobooks, so I have to share the files. Most of the time, I will also upload the pictures to Flickr or Facebook as well as share them through one of the above methods.


Please let me know: do you have a great way to share your digital photos with family and friends? Is there a service I’m missing? Is there an EASIER WAY!? I’d love to hear your input, because this is such a common thing in my family.


4 thoughts on “How To Share Photos With Your Loved Ones”

  1. I had this same problem myself a few years ago. I decided to use SmugMug which is a bit expensive at $40 but is a great service. You can set your albums to be private and then send out protected links to your friends or family. It’s great for the case where your family/friends will only view them. There are more fine-tuned privacy settings and gallery themes as well but I haven’t explored them.

    1. I’d never heard of SmugMug, but you make it sound like a really good system. The price is a little steep, compared to free services, but I’m sure that you get what you pay for to some extent. Can your friends/family download your albums from the links? I might look into this service if my current system stops working! Thanks for the input. :)

  2. I definitely know how this is! My grandmother loves to look at my pictures, and I usually post them to Facebook. But then she calls me and I have to walk her through how to save them to her computer. And then she wants to show them to her sister, so we have to explain how to open them back up to share with my great aunt.

    1. Ha! Glad I’m not the only one with this problem. It’s cute that you always help your Grandma out with photo downloads! :) Hopefully you find an easier solution.

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