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How to share photos on Android (and our favorite apps to use)

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Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Has your smartphone become your primary camera? Do you have a gallery that’s packed to bursting with shots of your kids, your partner, holidays, and days out? It’s a common trend. NPD research found that smartphones accounted for 27 percent of all photos captured in 2011. Considering the total was 17 percent in 2010, we can safely assume it’s a lot higher now. The question is – what do you do with all those precious snaps?

If you have an Android smartphone, there are various ways of easily sharing your photos with others. We’re going to run through some of the basic methods for newbies, and then discuss some great apps and services, for casual or power users, that allow you to back up and share your photos with selected family and friends.

Updated on 6-22-2015 by Simon Hill: Refreshed text, updated instructions and screenshots, switched Google Photos for Google+, removed discontinued apps, and added new suggestions.

Photo sharing basics

When you take a photo and review it–or you browse through your photos in the gallery app on your Android device–you’ll notice a share icon at the bottom of the screen. It is three points joined by two lines; tapping on it will open your sharing options menu. This menu includes a list of all the apps and services that you can share photos directly with. At the very least, it will have Email and Messaging options. It’s also likely to include Bluetooth and a bunch of apps like Facebook, Twitter clients, LinkedIn, Flipboard, and more–it really depends on what apps you have installed.

To share an individual photo, just tap on the option you want and send it via email or text message and post it to your account on Facebook, or wherever else. Sometimes you’ll have to resize it before you can send, but this is generally handled automatically and it won’t affect the photo you have stored in your Gallery or Photos app.

These options are all well and good if you want to share an individual photo, but what if you want to share or back up your whole collection, or create individual albums? What if you want to share with a lot of different people? A lot of phones and contracts don’t cope with picture messaging very well, so sending photos by MMS can be tough. Let’s take a look at some other photo sharing options.

How to share photos with Android Beam

If you have a device with Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or above, and it has NFC functionality, then you can use Android Beam to share photos. Navigate to the photo you want to share and hold your device back-to-back with another Android device, and you should see the option to “Touch to beam.” If you want to send multiple photos then long-press on a photo thumbnail in the gallery app and select all the shots you want to share.

It’s worth mentioning that Samsung had its own version of this functionality called S Beam which uses NFC and Wi-Fi, instead of NFC and Bluetooth. This allowed you to share larger files, but, from a user point of view, it worked much the same way. If you want to use Android Beam, and you have a Samsung phone with S Beam, then it’s advisable to turn S Beam off first. You’ll find it in Menu > Settings > More settings. You may also have to turn NFC on, but the Bluetooth will activate by itself as part of the process.

How to share photos using Google Photos

There’s a major incentive to use Google’s Photos app to backup all your pics – you can upload as many photos as you want for free. You can also upload videos for free. The only limitations are that photos must be 16MP or smaller, and videos recorded at 1080p or lower. If you want to automatically upload photos and videos at higher resolutions then you can also use the 15GB of free space that comes with Google Drive before you need to consider a paid plan.

Photos works with your existing Google account and it can be accessed on all your devices, including iOS devices, and in the browser on a laptop or computer. When you open the app up, you can tap the menu at the top left (three horizontal lines) to find Settings > Backup & sync. You can choose Upload size in here and see how much space you have remaining (if you decide to go with Original quality). If you choose High quality, then your photos will automatically be re-sized and there’s no limit to how many you can store. You should also take a look under Backup Settings and make sure that you select Over Wi-Fi only to avoid using your data allowance for photo uploads.

Once your photos are in the app, it’s very easy to share them via the share icon. You can even create a link to a specific photo and send it as a URL.

Download Photos from Google Play

Next page: Sharing with Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and more.

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