Apple’s Live Photos — which you can easily shoot from any iPhone 6S or later running iOS 11 or later — is a hybrid photo-video format that records action 1.5 seconds before and after you tap the camera shutter. Capturing image, sound, and movement combined, you can play the Live Photos with a simple tap and hold. With Live Photos, you get more than a great photo; you capture the entire moment with movement and sound that you shoot in the same easy way as any other photo.
Live Photos are neither inherently better nor always appropriate: You may not want or need to see movement or hear sound or you may want to free up the extra storage space that these hybrid images take up. If that’s the case, then there are ways to minimize Live Photos and even convert the ones you already have to traditional stills. It’s so easy to enable and disable Live Photos that people often forget to turn the feature off, with the result that every photo you take is live, occupying twice the storage space on your phone. It doesn’t help that Live Photos is on by default and switches back on automatically unless you specifically shut it off. We show you how to do that in iOS 14.4.
After launching the Camera app, you will see the Live Photos animated yellow bullseye icon at the top right of your screen, as well as the arrow icon at the top middle that governs various camera options. Tap on the bullseye to turn it off — you will see a quick notation indicating the change in status. A slash through a white bullseye button up top means the feature is off. To keep Live Photos off until you want it on, tap Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings and toggle on the switch next to Live Photos.
Once you have switched off the Live Photos feature, any images you shoot after that will be standard stills, and any Live Photos you previously captured will remain as Live Photos in your Camera Roll. Another way to control Live Photos status is to tap the middle top arrow in the Camera app. That gives you a range of controls over various camera functions like flash, video, exposure, aspect ratio, timer, and Live Photos. Tapping the Live Photos bullseye gives you the option to change the setting on the fly to Live Off, Live On, or Auto.
Within each Live Photo, you can change the main display frame or add all sorts of adjustments and effects by opening a Live Photo from the Photo app’s Albums sheet and tapping Edit. If you want to change the frame that’s used as the still photo, then tap the bullseye icon and move the slider at the bottom with your finger, and release when you reach the frame you want, then tap the Make Key Photo icon.
You can share Live Photos with others, but they’ll only animate if the recipient is using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. If you want to convert a Live Photo into a static shot, do this: Open your Live Photo and tap Edit, apply any adjustments and cropping you want, and the tap the bullseye icon to select the frame you want to use. Then tap the yellow Live tag at the top and watch it turn white with a strikethrough bullseye icon. Then tap Done. Your Live Photo is now a regular image edited exactly the way you want it to look, while your original Live Photo is also stored in the Camera Roll.
Want more from your iPhone camera app? Check out our iPhone tips and tricks.
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