March 7, 2018

12 Cool Features You Should Be Using in iPhone Photos App

The Photos app in iOS may look like a simple thing. But underneath that, there is an app that allows for a surprisingly wide variety of options, ranging from the ability to keep your photos and videos organized, apply Instagram-like filters, convert live photos into GIFs or to drag and drop photos from one album to another.


Some of its most useful and interesting features aren’t evident, or obvious to use. Some of them are a little trickier to find. So, we have compiled a few of them here. Let’s take a look at all of these cool features below.

1. Mark up your Photos after Clicking them

Markup is a fantastic feature that has been available in several apps for a while, but now it’s fully integrated into Photos app. The excellent Markup ability in iOS allows iPhone users to write, draw, and markup on any picture stored on their device. It offers a nice way to highlight or emphasize something on an image.

But this feature is tucked away behind a nondescript button option in the photos editing features of iOS, so many users can overlook the markup ability without ever knowing it exists.

  • Open the Photos app, choose the picture you want to edit and tap on it.
  • Tap the editing slider button (three lines with three dot icons) in the bottom toolbar.
  • While in editing mode, tap the More options (…) button to show additional editing options
  • Choose “Markup” from the additional editing options.


Here, you will find tools that let you draw, doodle, magnify, create callouts, flip photos and add text to images. The same editing panel section allows you to adjust light and color of photos, crop, rotate, straighten, remove red-eye, add a signature, and much more. Once you have edited the image, tap on Done to save the changes.

And remember, you can do this straight through the Camera app as well, without going to photos app.

iOS has long had this Markup tool, but the feature has been buried inside ‘Mail’ until iOS 10 brought it to more places including Photos app.

2. Find the Regular Version of a Depth Effect (Portrait Mode) Photo

Apple’s Depth Effect feature is a great way to deemphasize the background in a close shot without all the special lenses needed in the past. Before iOS 11, whenever you would use “Portrait Mode,” you had the choice of keeping both the Depth Effect photo and a regular photo. In case, if only one of them turned out better or you were low on space, you could always opt to save the depth effect version only or vice versa.

But unfortunately (for your storage space), you now have no choice but to keep both the regular and depth effect versions. Before, iOS 10 would save the normal photo as a separate file in your Photos app. Now, in iOS 11, the normal photo is saved behind the depth effect version, so you have less clutter in your Camera Roll album.

Only the Depth Effect photo shows up in your library, but the normal photo is still there, whether you like it or not — it’s just hiding. However, finding it isn’t too much tough. In order to unlock the normal picture,

  • Launch the Photos app on your iOS device.
  • Simply tap on the photo you would like to remove the ‘depth effect’ from.

TIP: If the photo was taken using Portrait mode, you’ll see the label “DEPTH EFFECT” in the upper-left corner.

  • Now press ‘Edit’ in the upper-right, and you’ll then see the yellow “Depth” button at the top of the view.
  • Tap the yellow Depth button to disable the depth effect.
  • Hit “Done” in the lower-right to save the image.


Now, the normal image becomes the main photo you see while swiping through your album. Saving it as the original photo does not mean the depth effect is lost forever; You can simply go back into “Edit” mode and reinstate the “Depth” option. Simply tapping that yellow Depth button will allow you to switch between the original photo and the one with the depth effect applied.

Anyways, it’s always good to have both copies. You risk losing a good shot just by keeping the depth effect version only since Portrait Mode can’t give you a perfect bokeh effect every time.

3. Convert Live Photos into GIFs

Live Photos is an exciting camera setting that brings your photos to life by capturing 1.5 seconds of video before and after you take a picture. When Apple introduced Live Photos in iOS 9, there wasn’t much you could do, besides taking a Live Photo. iOS 10 eventually added the ability to edit, crop, and add filters to Live Photos, while iOS 11 has added even more options.

With iOS 11, Live Photos can now be trimmed to hide the unsatisfactory sections from being shared and also be edited to change the still thumbnail. Live Photos also has effects such as Bounce, Loop, and Long Exposure now, which can effortlessly turn Live Photos into GIF-like animations. Yeah, you no longer need to use a third party app like Lively to get things done.

If you want to make your Live Photo a GIF,

  • Simply open the Photos app and select “Albums” in the bottom-right corner.
  • From there, open the ‘Live Photos’ album and select the photo you want to turn into GIF.
  • Once you’ve opened up the picture, swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
  • From there, you will see a list of animation effects to choose from: Live, Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure.
  • Tap on any of the effects you like.

Live is a standard Live Photo, Loop is a GIF that runs in a loop, Bounce is a GIF that runs through forwards then backward repeatedly, and Long Exposure blends the entire Live Photo into a still photo imitating a photo taken with a slow shutter speed.


  • Once you’ve chosen the desired effect, the photo is automatically added to the “Animated Album” in your Camera Roll.
  • The animated photo is now a GIF, ready to be used.

You can also convert it back to a Live Photo at any time by reversing the process.

4. Choose the Best Frame from a Live Photo

Have you ever taken a Live Photo only to find that the still image selected by the Camera app was just before a beautiful smile or your eyes were better open in a later frame of the animated version?

When we take a photo, not every shot comes out perfect, and we all hate it when a photo doesn’t turn out quite the way we intended. But with Live Photos, if you get a blurry or botched image, you can open it up and see if other frames you captured are clearer.

The Camera app uses AI to select the best still image and if it didn’t choose the perfect moment, you can select the preferred shot from the frames used to make the animation of a Live Photo. It’s a simple process.

  • Open up the Photos app and choose a Live Photo.
  • Tap on “Edit” in the upper right (or bottom, if you’re using the camera app) corner of the display.
  • Using the photo navigation bar at the bottom of the image, tap the thumbnails to browse through the frames captured for the Live Photo.


  • If you find a better still, tap on “Make Key Photo” to select it.
  • If you like your original still image best, tap “Cancel” to exit out of the editing interface.

It’s worth noting that choosing a new key photo from a Live Photo does change the resolution a bit and lowers the overall quality of the photo. And selecting a key photo from a Live Photo is a feature that was introduced in iOS 11. So, you’ll need an iOS device that’s running iOS 11 to make these edits.

5. Extract a Still Shot from a Live Photo

Sometimes you snap a picture at just the right moment and the stuff before and after aren’t worth keeping. That’s when you want to turn your Live Photo into a still shot.

Previously, you had to go into edit mode in order to create a still shot from a Live Photo, but now, you can extract that still image from a Live Photo with just a few steps.

  • Open the Photos app and select the Live Photo you want to extract a still shot from.
  • Tap the ‘Share’ icon in the bottom left corner of the screen.
  • Tap ‘Duplicate’ at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap ‘Duplicate as Still Photo.’


A copy of the still photo will appear in your library right next to the original Live Photo.

6. Drag and Drop Photos from one Album to another

We can already drag and drop photos from one album to another album to rearrange the pictures on the Mac or an iPad. And now, it’s quite possible to do this on an iPhone as well.

The process for dragging and dropping photos from one album to another is very similar to dragging and dropping app icons from one page to another on your home screen.

  • Find the photo you would like to move to another album in the Photos app.
  • Gently long-press on the photo to highlight it.

TIP: Don’t press down too hard, though, or you’ll turn on the “Peek” 3D Touch action.

  • Once you’re able to drag the highlighted image slightly away from the main thumbnail, then tap on “Album” at the top left of the screen while still holding the highlighted image in place. You’ll then be taken back to the main albums menu.
  • Find the Album you want to add it to, then drop it on top of the album thumbnail.


Alternatively, you could hold the image above the album for a second to open the album up, then you can drop the image wherever you want inside.

In fact, you could even drag and drop multiple photos at once by hitting ‘Select’ in the top right of the album before you tap on all the images you want to move. Then gently long-press one of the selected images until all the images highlight, drag the highlighted images slightly away, then tap “Cancel” in the top right with one of your free fingers and proceed to navigate to another album and drop them where you want.

It’s arguably faster just to select the photos and then press the ‘Add To’ prompt that pops up at the bottom of the screen afterward, but it’s nice to know the option’s there if needed. However, this drag-and-drop method lets you drop photos wherever you want in an album, unlike ‘Add To’ feature which drops the pictures only at the end of the album. Plus, drag and drop feature let you reorganize the order of the pictures in the same album. However, you cannot rearrange multiple photos at once in the same album. And you can only rearrange photos in albums that appear in your My Albums section.

7. Use an iPhone photo as an Apple Watch face

You probably already know that you can easily turn one of your photos into a wallpaper for your iPhone, but you may not know that you can do the same thing for your Apple Watch. With iOS 11, Apple has made it easier than ever to quickly add one of your Camera Roll pictures onto the Apple Watch face, as long as you’re running the latest available software for your iPhone and Apple Watch.

Step 1. Open Photos app in iOS.

Step 2. If you only want one image on your Photos Watch face, simply find the photo and jump to step 5.

Step 3. If you want to make an album of images, tap “Select” in the top right corner of the Photos app.

Step 4. Scroll through your library and you can pick up to ten photos to include in your new Photos Watch Face.

Step 5. Tap the share sheet extension in the bottom left corner of the screen.


Step 6. At the very bottom of the screen, scroll until you find “Create Watch Face” and tap it.

Step 7. Then you’ll have the option to see the photo on your Apple Watch in either Photos or Kaleidoscope view.

Step 8. Once you have made your selection (Photos Watch Face/Kaleidoscope Watch Face), press ‘Add’ on the screen that pops up.


After this, your all-new Apple Watch face will show up in “My Faces” within the Watch app on iOS. Once you find it in that list, you can tap on it, scroll down, and tap “Set as current Watch Face.”

8. Name People in your Photos for Easy Searching

Do you have thousands of photos of friends or family or employees that send you on a never-ending search for that “one” image? The photos app lets you name someone so you can easily find them through the Search tool.

The Photos app already does a good job of identifying faces in photos, but it usually won’t name them. Not even the photo set for a contact helps. You have to manually identify who someone is once their face has been detected. Here’s how.

  • Go to Albums, then hit the People album. Inside, you will see that Apple has already grouped a lot of photos of what should be the same person.
  • To name that person, press on their selection of photos and then tap ‘Add Name’ at the top of the menu that pops up.
  • Then enter their name, or you can search for and select names stored in your contacts.
  • Press Next in the upper right and you’re done.


If you would like to rename the person, go to People Album, choose the person you want to rename and then tap on his/her name and enter the new name.

If you want to add additional photos of that person that iOS isn’t too sure about, scroll down to the bottom of their collection of photos and select ‘Confirm Additional Photos.’ The Photos app will then allow you to confirm whether the following photos are the same person.

9. Remove People or Faces from People album

Having bad memories of a person and you want to remove their face from People album? Or you want to remove people or faces that have been wrongly identified in the Photos app? Then, you can easily remove folks from recognition in the People album.

  • Open the Photos app and choose a person from the People album. Click “Select” in the upper right corner.
  • Choose the person, and then press ‘Remove’ in the lower left.
  • Tap ‘Show All’ if you’re not sure which images you want to correct.
  • If you need it, you can tap on “Show Face” to zoom in on the person to have a better look at the face.
  • Select a thumbnail (or multiple thumbnails) to select them.
  • Tap on the Share button. And select “Not This Person” from the bottom left corner.


10. Merge People or Faces in People Album

Apple has already grouped a lot of photos in the People album and you might see the same person identified as two separate people. To fix this, i.e. to consolidate the two or more faces into one person, you will need to identify them both and merge them into one by assigning them the same name.

  • Enter the People Album, and tap “Select”.
  • Choose the people you want to merge into one collection.
  • Tap the ‘Merge’ button at the bottom left and they will all be grouped together.
  • Then tap ‘Add Name’ and enter their name for the person once
  • Press Next in the upper right and you’re done.

If you have too many instances of the same person being identified separately, assigning them a name individually will take too much time. Instead, tap the ‘Add People’ button at the very end of the ‘People’ album and then select all faces of the same person on the next screen. Tap the ‘Merge’ button at the bottom left and they will all be grouped together. You now only have to add a name to the person once.

11. Add New People or Faces to People Album

Sometimes you’ll find that Apple hasn’t recognized any of the photos you have taken of someone, so they won’t show up in the People album. You can easily work around this.

  • Open the People album from the Albums tab and click + icon to add people.
  • The Photos app will show you a rather long list of every single face it has found in all your photos.
  • If you want to add one single person, tap on the person you want to add and tap “Add”.
  • If you want to add a group of people in one collection, merge the ones you need to, and then add a name to them.

Alternatively, you can just open a photo of the person you wish to add, and then swipe up on the middle of the photo. Scroll down past the Effects options for making GIFs, and you’ll see another heading for People. Press on it, and then press ‘Add Name’ at the top of the new image. Add the name, press Next, and you’re done. You’ll now be able to see the person in your People album.

12. Hide People or Faces in the People Album


  • On the People album, choose “Select” on the top.
  • Select the people you want to hide and click “Hide” on the bottom left.
  • The people will be in the hidden area. To view the hidden people, click on “Show Hidden People”.

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