Technical notes index


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Apple's online service, iCloud, is intended primarily as a method for easily syncing data such as calendars, contacts, emails and pictures between your Macs and your iOS devices. Though it was touted as a partial replacement for the old MobileMe service, it is lacking a number of facilities which were available there.

This article offer some advice on replacing those facilities which iCloud doesn't provide.


iCloud provides a simple gallery in the form of 'Photo Journal' - uploading of photos from iPhoto to web pages hosted on iCloud, but only from iOS devices; and the photos are compressed to a size adequate for online viewing but are not available in full resolution as with the old MobileMe Gallery.

For full-scale galleries uploaded from your Mac the leading method is Flickr, a very widely used photo-sharing website with thousands of users. It's free with adverts and 1TB of space, or $49.99 p.a. for the ad-free 'Pro' version. The site isn't wonderfully attractive to look at, but it's flexible, reasonably easy to use, and as it has by far the largest user base will expose your pictures to a very wide audience (though by the same token you are in competition with an awful lot of people for attention). You can make photos or sets accessible to everyone, to only yourself, or to 'friends' or 'family'. You can see one of my sets here to give you an idea how it looks - click on a thumbnail to see a larger version of a picture.

SmugMug isn't as widely known as Flickr, but offers more options and is much more customizable. You can use a wide variety of themes for your albums; you can password-protect selected albums or the entire site; you can make private galleries at hidden URLs which you can give to selected friends. You can see some sample sites here, and you can have a free trial. Basic subscription is $40 p.a., with more advanced subscriptions at $60 and higher.

MacMate is a service pitched as a replacement for MobileMe and offers a photo gallery; also an online network disk, email, and website hosting. There is a free level and two paid levels.

DPhoto has an attractive gallery with the ability to password protect the gallery or individual albums; they have a sample gallery. There is also an iPhone version of the gallery (no app required). Pricing starts at $5 per month for photos up to 100GB, with a Premium level at $10 per month for 200GB and additional facilities. There is a free 14 day trial.

Zenfolio is broadly similar to the others; some people prefer its layout but there have been complaints that uploading is glacially slow. It starts at $30 per year (or 30, which is a bit of a cheek given the currency rate).

Facebook allows you to upload photos to albums, and is free, but it's really a social networking site with photos as an adjunct, and I wouldn't recommend it as a replacement for Gallery.

Of course there's nothing to stop you from creating your own online photo gallery on your own webspace using a program such as iWeb (provided you already have it as it's no longer sold or supported)  or RapidWeaver, or indeed more complex (and expensive) programs such as DreamWeaver. It's possible to produce attractive photo albums, including slideshows (iWeb is geared towards Mobileme but from version '09 on can FTP to other web servers and will produce functioning slideshows there). You can customize your site exactly how you like, but of course it's a lot more work, you won't get as big an audience, and you won't have comments, or privacy settings. However you should note that iWeb seems unreliable with the latest versions of OSX.

For videos, YouTube is widely known and used and is free,  but converts your videos, reducing the quality in the process. Vimeo is less well-known but better quality: it's free for a basic account or $59.95 p.a. for more facilities and bandwidth.

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Roger Wilmut. This site is not associated with Apple.