Managing Photo Library in Apple ecosystem


Well-known Member
Bit of a sanity check post, plus some vain hope I'm missing an easier way.

After a week twiddling my thumbs and being driven mad by the kids, I thought I'd use the lockdown to slowly address those tasks i've been forever putting off. Sorting out our family photos has ended up top of the list :) and i've spent a week deleting duplicates, organising albums, etc. Finally I have a semi decent family Master library (Photos).

2 iPhones (Me and Wife)
1 iPad (Me)
2 MacBook Pro's (Me and Wife)
Nikon D90

Cloud Services:
iCloud 200GB Family
MS OneDrive (6 x 1TB via Office 365 Sub)

Photo Library:
Photos - Master Family Library (90GB)

Other useful Software:
Photosweeper (Mac App Store) - Best option I could find to tag and remove duplicates
PowerPhotos - Best software I could find to merge the disparate legacy libraries we had

In my naivety I thought it would be simple from here:

1) Switch on iCloud Photos
2) Everything will sync between our devices
3) Backup Master Library to onedrive for offsite backup
4) Backup to NAS for local backup (Time Machine)
5) Monthly TimeMachine backup to USB HDD, incase NAS backup becomes corrupt

And that would be true if we were using the same Apple ID on both our devices. But thats not an option as I can't trust my wife not to mess up my keychain, bookmarks, etc. So I've been presented with a big problem. Apple in their infinite wisdom have decided Familys can't be trusted to share a single Photo Library. Instead the only way for my wife to access the library using iCloud Photos is for me to share Albums. Which sounds doable, but in practice is a mess:

1) I have to manually create shared albums and copy pictures across from each original album in the library. And do that every time a new picture is added to the original Album (XMAS Albumfor example).
2) The pictures in the shared albums are compressed.
3) Keywords, Location info, etc are removed.
4) You can't sort shared albums.
5) I have to manually take pictures from my Wifes devices and add them to the library
6) Shared albums dont work with memories and faces.

I've been scratching my head trying to figure out the least painful solution and so far have come up with this:

7) Use iCloud Photos for my devices only
8) Photos MAC I have a smart album which shows all pictures "not in" an album. I use this to pickup new pictures from my iOS devices. Periodically sorting them into the various Albums and then deleting the ones I dont want to keep.

Perfect so far. But for my wife I have to:

9) Manually sync her phone with the my Mac to put the pictures on her phone
10) Create a shared folder on OneDrive so she can push pictures from her iPhone she wants to keep. She's been told I wont be fixing her mess again, so she has to periodically sort through recent pictures she's taken. Push them to this folder. Delete any she doesn't want to keep. Shouldn't be a problem as she's constantly flicking through photos on her phone to put them on social media/watsapp/etc. But we'll see how this works in practice.
11) I'll pickup her new pics on One Drive on my MAc. Add them to the Master Library.
12) Push them back to her iPhone using wifi sync from my Mac.

Still to Decide:

13) What to do with her Mac. She rarely uses it for looking at pictures. So currently thinking to periodically copy the Master Library to One Drive and her Mac can use that library. I'm reluctant to auto sync the Master Library to one drive, incase both of us access it at the same time and mess it up.

I don't want to pay for Google Photos as well (which manages shared family libraries). And my wife in particular is unlikely to move to a third party App anyway. She's used to Photos and the way its hooked into iOS/OSX. So I think this is the best I can do right now, until Apple see sense (cater for shared libraries, or improve shared albums). But would be glad to be told I'm an idiot and have missed something obvious.

Thanks to anyone that's managed to read through all that :D

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