Google Photos - can I get an account and just share a little bit with others?

A friend wants to start a Google Photos album of places we go together, which I think would be tremendous fun. But I don’t have a Google Photos account. I do have some iCloud “shared albums” and related things which are fine, though she’s not in iCloud.

So, can I join and just upload photos we’re sharing, and generally access the shared album, but not get ALL the thousands of photos on my iMac and iPhone and iCloud tangled up in it? A limited application of it? At the moment, sharing a few photos with this one person, adding to it when we go places, is the only goal I have for doing this.

If I sign up, is it just going to default me into uploading absolutely everything I have? Do I have to do anything special to share in only a very limited fashion?

Also, I am nervous about joining up for broad Google services in general because I don’t know how to figure out where all the information is winding up. I think Google Photos was spun off of the rest and doesn’t draft me into putting my whole life online. Right?


Photos just a cloud storage service. You don’t HAVE to copy the photos to your devices; they just live online unless you choose to download them. So yes, you can create a Google account (or use a Gmail account if you already have one) and upload/view Google Photos in a shared album, without worrying about them cluttering up your devices.

For what it’s worth, you can also do the same thing with Facebook or iCloud or OneDrive or Flickr.

Does iCould make you put every photo you take or have on your phone in the cloud? Doesn’t it give you any control? And if it doesn’t, can’t you decide at least with whom to share which photos? Surely it lets you decide.

Right Isn’t Google Photos just a different way of accessing the photos you have on Google Drive? I thought I didn’t have Google Photo, until I saw this thread, and then opened it. Sure enough, it’s just all the photos that I chose to upload at one time or another to Google Drive, (maybe with some added functionality).

All of these things let you decide what you upload and whom to share it with.

Not sure about Google but what I do to keep things semi-private is group photos under different directories that have random names. So if I’m sharing with fred I put the files under a directory zi8d76hty5es721lgg9c7cjjdta6.

Then I email fred with the link like:


or however the directory is shown in the URL bar.

As long as all my directories have complex names, no one with the name of one directory has much chance of finding the name of the others.

Any good such sharing site should have the option of keeping my top directory completely private and allow only access to subdirectories if they have the URL.

(And I hope fred doesn’t post the URL on Facebook or anything.)

No, I’m asking the other way around. I already have all my photos on my devices which is where they belong. I’m asking if they will also all wind up online too, or do I get to choose which few to upload.

I think I’m hearing the answer is that I choose what I want to upload, though I did start the process and got asked for blanket access to all my photos, which made me a little doubtful. I’m doubtful of online services, like when Facebook seemed to plunder my iPhone Contacts list, which I did NOT like!

I use Dropbox and Snapchat. Both of those only store photos that I chose to upload. With Dropbox I can set my device to automatically upload if I choose. As Dropbox does not automatically share everything that’s what I do.


I’m pretty sure Google uses the same account for all their services including Google Photos.

But of course you can create a Google account and only use the services you want to use through the web interface. It doesn’t sync or upload anything from your computer unless you download and install their software on your computer.

Android tablets & phones are a different matter, because they rely on Google services for a lot of things like data backup. But on any other OS, your data shouldn’t end up on a Google server unless you install one of their software that sync your data (e.g. Google Drive) or you manually upload it through the browser.

Well, obviously that’s when you say, “No.”

That option is for people either who are too lazy to be selective or who think the whole world wants to see every last one of their insipid pictures.

(Or possibly those who use it as a back up.)

Huh? Are you hosting your web/FTP server to share files from? The cloud storage providers don’t work like that; when you share a folder, the recipients just get a new generated link that only allows access to that folder, completely detached from its real name.

If you download the Google Photos app, you can choose which folders you want to sync. Or you can just skip the app and use the website to upload individual folders.

Google Drive works similarly.

The photo sites by default keep your photos private. They only become shared when you choose to share them (unless there’s a security breach, of course).

Google does a far better job of keeping my photos safe than I ever could… and frees up valuable space on my phone. If you have one of their phones, you get unlimited photo storage online so you don’t have to keep losing memories when you run out of space. Cheaper and far easier to manage than a bunch of hard drives.

Some do, some don’t.

For real? There are cloud storage providers that let shared users randomly traverse your folder structure…? That’s a huge security risk.

The only one I use that does this is Carbonite, and even there you can exclude things from being backed up. That’s not really cloud storage in the usual sense since you don’t share things with anyone else.

Right, I get that, I’m just referring to people who think it’s like Facebook or something. Either way, I’d rather choose when it uploads, especially when there’s bad connectivity.

Ahh!! This is what I think I was looking for (though didn’t exactly know it yet):
“It doesn’t sync or upload anything from your computer unless you download and install their software on your computer”

I may do this entirely from my desktop, using only the web site. I did get the Google Photos app for my iPhone, and stopped setting things up before giving it permission, but now I’m thinking I won’t even keep that app. Just use the web site from my desktop.

That is what I do. Phone apps seem to cause a lot more trouble. + I can’t see to type worth a damn on the itty bitty smart phones & I have big fingers and I hate trying to use the little stylus thing.

I am old and at home almost all the time so I don’t need to do that type for stuff from other places.