Updated: October 20, 2023 | Contains affiliate links

4 Simple Ways to Share Photos on OneDrive


Learn how to share photos on OneDriveThere are many ways to share photos these days. If you rely on the smartphone camera, there are at least a dozen services that offer quick photo sharing right from your phone. All of the photo sharing companies offer photo and video storage space along with simple ways to access this storage space both from your computer and your mobile devices. Microsoft OneDrive is one of the major products that offer photo and video sharing along with lots of well known office applications. In this article I will show you how to share photos on OneDrive.

If you want to send photos in bulk without reducing picture quality, which some instant messaging services do, Microsoft OneDrive is an excellent solution. If a DSLR or mirrorless camera is your photography tool of choice, and you want to share high-quality pictures over the computer, Microsoft’s OneDrive is also a top choices with easy sharing options. Read along as we explore how to share photos on OneDrive.

1. Share Photos on OneDrive from Your Computer

After a long day on the road, I have finally transferred photos from my camera to the laptop back in the hotel room. I have some great pictures I want to share with my family and friends, so they experience some of the places I have enjoyed on my trip. I usually take lots and lots of pictures during my day trips or vacations, and after selecting some great ones, it doesn’t make any sense to send them all via SMS message applications on my phone.  What I usually do, I upload all my favorite photos to a OneDrive folder and share the entire folder. Let’s see how I share my favorite pictures with OneDrive.

OneDrive is built into Windows 10 (and 11) operating system, and I already have it installed. If you are using older versions of Windows (not recommended for the lack of support), you can download OneDrive or use the web version without a desktop app.

Installing Microsoft OneDrive on your desktop
Installing Microsoft OneDrive on your desktop

Open the OneDrive desktop app on your computer, and you will get the setup OneDrive popup window. Create your Microsoft account or sign into your existing account. After a few tips and the next button pressed, you will have a folder or web interface with documents, pictures, and personal vault folders. With a free OneDrive account your get 5Gb of free storage space which is enough for sharing a few trips with lots of photos and a few videos.  For more storage, the OneDrive Personal comes with 1Tb (that’s right 1 terabyte) of space plus all the Microsoft Office applications.  On a side note, I think the Microsoft OneDrive Personal (click to save $10) is the best value from all the cloud office and storage companies out there.

When connecting your camera to a laptop, OneDrive can automatically upload photos. If you are using a free account, you will have 5 GB of space. You might want to select pictures for upload from the computer yourself. Open the folder with the photos you want to share then copy them to the pictures folder or drag and drop.

Creating a shared folder is the easiest way to share photos on OneDrive. Simply copy your photos into the OneDrive Pictures folder
Copy photos you want to share into the OneDrive Pictures folder

Alternatively, which is my favorite way, you can also create a subfolder with the date and name of the travel location. It is significantly faster to copy pictures into a desktop folder, which will synchronize with the cloud contents in the background.

Once you uploaded your favorite photos to your OneDrive folder, you are ready to share them with friends.  You have two options for sharing your photos now.

a. Share photos on OneDrive by directly entering email addresses

  • A OneDrive desktop app selects the newly created photo folder, right-click, and then choose a share button. You can give permissions to friends. They can potentially edit photos or just look at them. You can also set an expiration date and set a password.
  • All you need to do is enter your friends’ email address.
  • Press the Send button.  This action will automatically send your friends an email with a link to your folder.

b. Share photos on OneDrive by creating a link

This second option is my favorite option for sharing photos with OneDrive.

  •  Instead of entering email addresses and pressing send, you can click the link button on the bottom left of the sharing popup display.
  • This action creates a link which you can copy to the clipboard (using CRTL+C on Windows).
  • Then you can write an email and paste (CTRL+V on Windows) the link you just created. The web interface has the same procedure, select the pics/created folder, and share them with friends’ email.

Create and share link to your photos with OneDrive
Create and share link to your photos with OneDrive

2. Share Photos on OneDrive from Your Phone

Most of us use advanced cameras on our smartphones for pictures. The camera now has great picture quality and advanced features, and you have numerous options for photo sharing. OneDrive and iCloud are great options for mobile sharing.  For mobile devices as well, Microsoft OneDrive is a great option for photo sharing because you can synchronize the mobile app with your account and with the laptop. So, you can manage your picture library on multiple devices.

To install OneDrive on your phone, start by downloading Microsoft OneDrive from Play Store on Android or from iTunes Store on Apple devices. Then sign in with your Microsoft account, or create one in a few easy, straightforward steps.

When installing Microsoft OneDrive on your phone, the application will ask you to turn on automatic Camera Upload which will automatically upload any photos on your phone to your OneDrive account.

My suggestion is to decline this option so photos are not automatically uploaded to OneDrive.  This will prevent a lot of other issues especially generating duplicate photos when downloading to your computer.

You can always revisit this decision and change it, but you have to understand what is happening. See below for my discussion about automatic Camera Upload setting in Microsoft OneDrive.

Once installed, you can simply choose your favorite photos and upload them to your OneDrive shared folder. In our case, choose images in the gallery and upload them, choosing OneDrive as your destination.

Choose the folder with photos to share on OneDrive mobile app
Choose the folder with photos to share on OneDrive mobile app

Go to the app where you drag n’ drop pictures to the New Zealand folder. Click share, and you will have several options for sharing your favorite travel photos. Default options include copy link, invite other users to the shared folder or send via outlook app.

Choose photos in your OneDrive app and share them with a link
Choose photos in your OneDrive app and share them with a link

Other sharing options include all the usual communication applications you have installed on your smartphone. You can also send photo files directly from OneDrive via Messages and not just a link.

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3. Share Photos  on OneDrive with Albums

Another common sharing feature  available in OneDrive is photo albums. Albums are only available for media files like photos and videos. Albums have one major advantage over shared folders: you can add photos from different folders and combine them into one album.

Essentially, shared photo albums represent a virtual group of media files from different folders which you can share with only one link.

The usual scenario for using albums on OneDrive is having photos uploaded to one drive into different folders and then picking a few from each folder so you can share them with only one link.

Create a shared photo album on OneDrive
Create a shared photo album on OneDrive

For example, let’s say you go on vacation to London and you upload all your photos to OneDrive with a folder for each day of the trip. However, when it comes to sharing photos with your friends and family you don’t want to share the thousands of photos you took, but only a selected few from each day. This is when you create a shared album on OneDrive and share the link to the album. Super easy!

4. How to Turn On Camera Upload on OneDrive for Your Phone

Camera Upload on OneDrive is a very convenient feature that allows you to automatically upload photos from your phone to your OneDrive account. While convenient, this feature has a few drawbacks as well which I will try to explain in the next section.  For now, let’s see how to turn on Camera Upload on OneDrive and how to use it.

Here are the steps for turning on Camera Upload on OneDrive:

  1. Open OneDrive on your phone
  2. Tap on your User logo on the top left of the screen
  3. Choose Settings
  4. Verify your account under Accounts and make sure it’s the account you want. For example, I have a personal account and a work account. I want to make sure that I use my personal account.
  5. Tap on Camera Upload

How to turn on OneDrive Camera Upload on your phone
How to turn on OneDrive Camera Upload on your phone

Now, we need to pay attention to a few settings for Camera Upload. Here are some basic settings for Camera Upload on OneDrive:

  1. For the correct OneDrive account turn on Camera Upload
  2. Then lower on the screen verify some settings. I turn on the Include Videos option and turn off use Cellular Data. This is because I want my videos to be backed up, but I don’t want my phone to keep uploading photos and videos using my cell connection as it is very slow many times.  Plus, if you have limited cellular data, uploading especially video files will consume your data quota very quickly.  My preference is to do all this synching when I have free Wi-Fi connection.
  3. Organize new uploads by month.  You can organize my year or by month.  This setting will create a folder inside your OneDrive Pictures folder that will have this structure: OneDrive/Pictures/Camera Roll/2021/07  for pictures taken in July 2021.  Remember that this is all the organization you get as it is automatic.

How to configure OneDrive Camera Upload on your phone
How to configure OneDrive Camera Upload on your phone

With all these settings done, what is going in on inside your storage space in OneDrive? Well, let’s take a look in a web browser at my OneDrive storage space and notice the Pictures folder.
As you notice in the screenshot below, OneDrive has created a pretty good folder structure in a special folder called Camera Roll.

After turning on Camera Upload on OneDrive, the storage space reflects these choices
After turning on Camera Upload on OneDrive, the storage space reflects these choices

What is Camera Upload on OneDrive?

Before I start talking about the pros and cons of Camera Upload on OneDrive, let’s take a look at what it is.  Camera Upload is a feature built into OneDrive on mobile devices.  Since all smartphones have a camera and we all use it to take lots and lots of pictures, once turned on, Camera Upload will automatically upload all your new pictures as you take them.  This way you automatically have a backup of all your photos in OneDrive.  This is pretty cool, but all the major companies like Apple’s iCloud, Google Photos and Amazon Photos have the same feature.  The different thing with OneDrive (not sure how different it will stay as things change very often) is Camera Upload is exactly what it says, namely an upload service.

It is an upload service instead of a sync service. This means that once uploaded to OneDrive, you can delete your photos from your phone without deleting them from OneDrive.  In addition, if you have OneDrive running on your computer, all the photos from your phone will be downloaded to your computer as well via OneDrive.

As long as you don’t rename anything inside the Camera Roll folder, your photos will flow from your camera to OneDrive and to your computer seamlessly and correctly.

Should You Turn On Camera Upload on OneDrive?

Now this is the million dollar question. My suggestion is to not turn it on…with some exceptions.  I always keep this option off as I don’t want photos to be automatically uploaded to my OneDrive account, even though I have plenty of space available as I have a Personal OneDrive account.

Here are my main reasons for turning off Camera Upload on OneDrive:

  • If you already have a structure for your photo folders (like mine), OneDrive will create a different structure which will create another copy of your photos. When downloading photos from your phone to your computer you will have duplicate photos especially if you have OneDrive sync turned on for your computer.
  • Pretty soon you will not know what photos you have on your computer and which ones on OneDrive.  With so many photos we’re taking, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember which photos are where.

Here is the one instance when I turn on Camera Upload on OneDrive:

  • The only time when I turn on Camera Upload on OneDrive on my phone is when I travel and I don’t have a computer with me to download my pictures.  This provides a backup while I travel and I can also easily share photos with my friends and family.
  • When I come home from my trip, I download all my photos from my phone to my computer and then go to OneDrive and delete the photos were automatically downloaded from my phone during my trip.  This way I know that all my photos are on my computer.
  • If you simply want to let OneDrive organize all your photos automatically by month and you don’t want to change anything, then turn Camera Upload on and let OneDrive do everything for you, from your phone to OneDrive to your computer all seamlessly.

Should You Share Photos on OneDrive?

Microsoft’s offering for cloud storage is called OneDrive (get $10 off OneDrive Personal) and it has been built into Windows 10 and the upcoming Windows 11 versions. When you set up the computer, you will automatically set up its cloud service with your Microsoft account. Once you have a OneDrive account, you can also download and install OneDrive on your phone  and use it to synchronize pictures between devices, use free storage space, and share photos easily. This makes it easy to share photos on OneDrive and it makes OneDrive my favorite way to store and share photos with my family and friends.

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