How to stop iMessage photos from showing in Photos app

Are pictures and videos you receive on iMessage appearing automatically inside your iPhone Photos app? This is because of a new feature called Shared with You introduced in iOS 15. If you do not like this, here’s how to stop your iPhone from automatically saving images received on iMessage to the Photos app.

Shared with You iPhone

What is the “Shared with You” feature?

Suppose your friend sends you a link for a podcast or song when you’re in your office. Certainly, you won’t listen to it right away and think, “I’ll check this in the evening.” And it’s likely that by evening, you’ll forget about it.

Starting with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, when someone shares content (Apple Music song, album, etc., Apple TV movie or trailer, website link, photos and videos, podcast, News link) with you via the Messages app (SMS or iMessage), they show up in other supported apps (Music, TV, Safari, Photos, Podcasts, News) under a section called “Shared with You.”

So, the next time you open the Music or Podcasts app, the content your friend shared will appear there. Just tap to play it. It will also have the label “From sender’s name.” If you tap this label, it takes you exactly to this position in the messages conversation. Super handy.

Here are some screenshots of the “Shared with You” section in various apps.

Photos app:

Shared with You in iPhone Photos app
Images sent in iMessage appear under the Shared with You section in the For You tab of the iPhone Photos app.

Safari:

Shared with You in iPhone Safari
Sebastien sent me this link on iMessage. It conveniently and automatically appears inside my iPhone’s Safari browser.

Podcasts app:

Shared with You in iPhone Podcasts app
My mom shared this spiritual podcast link via text message. It appears automatically inside the Podcasts app.

Apple TV app:

Shared with You in iPhone Apple TV app
Apple TV movie link sent via Messages appearing in the TV app.

You can turn off the “Shared with You” feature:

  • Entirely for all people and apps.
  • Only for desired people.
  • Only for selected apps.

Important: Even after turning off Shared with You entirely, if you pin something in the Messages app, it’ll still appear in the supported apps.

Pinned message appearing in the Shared with You section
Pinned message appearing in the Shared with You section.

Advantages of saving iMessage Photos automatically

Before I tell you how to disable saving iMessage media to the Photos app, I want to mention its three highlights:

  • It removes the burden of manually saving the images you receive in iMessage.
  • Inside the Photos app, it shows which person sent the image. Tap it to open the conversation (left image below).
  • If you swipe up or tap the info button (i) inside the Photos app, it will show you the date and time this image was sent in iMessage. If you tap the curved arrow, it’ll instantly open that conversation and take you to the date/time/position when this image was sent (right image).
Shared with You label in Photos app iPhone

Disadvantages

The main reasons you might not like saving iMessage Photos automatically are:

  • It saves the same image twice: once in the Messages app and once in the Photos app.
  • If you use iMessage a lot, the incoming pictures might clutter the Photos app.
  • You might not want sensitive images received on iMessage to appear inside the Photos app.

How to disable iMessage photos from saving to iPhone Photos app

For everyone:

Here’s how to stop all images and videos you receive via iMessage from saving and showing up automatically in the Photos app:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap Messages.
  3. Tap Shared with You.
  4. Turn off Photos to prevent iMessage images from saving to the Photos app.

Like Photos, you can choose which apps to disable and which ones to keep. If you would like to disable Shared with You for all supported apps, turn off the switch for Automatic Sharing.

Turn off Shared with You for Photos in iPhone Messages settings

For specific individuals:

Suppose you like this feature but want to turn it off for that one friend who constantly spams you with images.

Here’s how to stop iMessage images from a particular person from saving to the Photos app:

  1. Open the conversation inside the Messages app.
  2. From the top, tap the person’s name.
  3. Turn off Show in Shared with You to prevent images and other content from this person from appearing in the Photos and other supported apps.
Turn off Shared with You for one person in iPhone Messages app

Another way: Press the person’s conversation from the first screen of the Messages app and tap Hide in Shared with You.

Hide in Shared with You iPhone Messages app

How to stop photos in iMessage from appearing in Mac’s Photos app

Here’s how you can prevent content from Mac’s Messages app to show up in Photos:

  1. Open the Messages app on your Mac running macOS Monterey or later.
  2. Press Command + , (comma) or click the word Messages from the top menu bar and choose Preferences.
  3. Click Shared with You.
  4. Uncheck Photos. Or click Turn Off to disable this feature for all apps.
Turn off Shared with Your in Mac Messages app

What to do if the photos are already saved?

You can open the iPhone Photos app and locate the shared photos under the For You section, and from there, you can delete them. They won’t reappear here unless you save them manually again from the message conversation.

Are photos in “Shared with You” the same as “Shared Album”?

No. Shared with You is a new feature introduced in iOS 15. This is under Settings app > Messages > Shared with You. On the other hand, Shared Albums is an old iCloud feature that lets you share up to 5,000 photos with up to 100 people. You can find this inside Settings app > Photos > Shared Albums. Both are different and unrelated features.

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