Best Practices for Sharing Files

Everyone wants to share their photos. It’s a large part of why we take them – to share our memories with loved ones. In some cases, you’ll be fine emailing a few files or throwing a few thousand on a USB drive. In others, you’ll want to turn to one of the many websites out there for uploading and sharing photos (and even occasionally videos!) with your friends and family. Some make it enormously painful to retrieve photos (Shutterfly and Snapfish), but most try to make it pretty easy. Up next, we’ll go through the basics.


Picking the sharing method that’s right for you

Your three best options are:

  • Email
  • Burn to a USB or DVD
  • Upload to a sharing site like Dropbox, Flickr, Smugmug, Google Photos, iCloud, Shutterfly, ThisLife, Snapfish… the list goes on.

Email is good for sharing 1-10 files at a time. Most email providers have a 20 MB file limit, and 10 files is about the upper limit.

USBs and DVDs are good for sharing a few or thousands of files – your family’s entire photo collection, say, or your annual professional family photos – and for sharing with people who aren’t comfortable using share sites.

Share sites are good for groups of files that don’t fit in email and don’t need to be on a USB. Each has slightly different benefits:

  • Dropbox makes it really easy to share your files & folders with specific people, but costs $100/year if you’ve got more than 2 GB on it at a time.
  • Flickr and Smugmug are free, easy to upload/download from, and make it easy to limit access to your files.
  • Google Photos is free and easy to upload/download from.
  • iCloud is automatic, but the view is limited to the most recent files.
  • Shutterfly and ThisLife aren’t great for sharing unless you’ve already got the files on there for a photobook or other project, and you absolutely know the other people don’t want those files outside of Shutterfly. (Or you want to make it as painful as possible to download them.) You’re limited to 10 short video files.
  • Snapfish is roughly the same as Shutterfly, but slightly easier to get files off of.
Advanced tips for exporting photos for sharing
Generally speaking, this is how exporting works:

  • First, select the photos you want.
  • Find the “Export” button (usually sitting under File in the top menu).
  • Make sure everything’s set to maintain the original photo’s size and quality.
  • Include all the metadata you want to share! There are very few cases where you don’t want to include all the metadata.
  • Create a new destination folder Hit OK.


Walking through an export from Picasa

1. In Picasa, select all the photos you want to export. To select multiple photos in a row, Ctrl-Click the first and last photos in the sequence. To select multiple photos that are scattered, Shift-Click each individual photo.

2. Click the “Export” button.

3. You should export using the original size and with automatic quality. Name the exported folder descriptively – in this case, it’s pictures of our sons to share with our family.

4. The exported folder will automatically open for you to share.

A quick note on exporting from Photos
If you are using Photos, it’s built right into your browser, so for cloud and email uploads you won’t need to export anything – you can just make a temporary album, share the files, and then delete the album. If you’re copying to a USB drive, you can simply select the files and drag and drop from Photos to the USB.


A walkthrough of uploading to Dropbox.

1. Drag your exports folder into Dropbox – either the folder on your computer, or the website.
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2. The folder will automatically be created on Dropbox. You can share this folder from the website in two different ways. The first way is to share it on Dropbox. You can only do this if the recipient has Dropbox, or wants to sign up for a Dropbox account. The second way is to create a share link, which everyone with the link will be able to see.

3. To share the folder, click on the Share This Folder icon. Enter the email addresses of the people you want to share it with. They’ll be able to add & remove files from the folder.

4. To create a share link, click on the Share Link icon. In the box here, you can copy & paste the link that displays into an email to share that way; or you can fill out the emails of your recipients in the box below that. If at any time you want to revoke access to that folder, just hit “Remove Link” and no one will be able to access the folder.


It’s as simple as that!

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“I want to be involved in my photos. It’s important to me. I’m OK with technology. But there were just too many photos. I was totally frustrated and demotivated and had basically stopped doing anything except for holiday cards.”

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