How to use Photos for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

How to use Photos for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

The Photos app is a repository for all the pictures and videos you shoot or save to your iPhone or iPad. Not only can you use the iOS Photos app to organize and find those special moments and memories you've recorded, but you can use it to share them directly, through social networks, on the big screen, as prints, and more. You can also edit them to enhance their looks, add filters, fix redeye, and crop them just so. And if you're running iOS 8, you can do even more, including much more advanced, granular editing, and Photos Extensions so other apps and their editing tools can hook right in. Whether you're new to iPhone or iPad and want to get started, or you just want a handy link to share with your friends, family, and colleagues who might just be getting started, you've come to the right place!

How to use moments, collections, and years smart photo groups on your iPhone or iPad

How to use photo moments, collections, and years on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app on your iPhone or iPad keeps all the pictures or videos you shoot or save all together, all in one place. That makes them easy to find later if you want to look at them, edit them, or show or share them with anyone else. Photos automatically sorts your pictures and videos into smart groups based on time and location. The smallest groups are moments, larger groups are Collections, the largest, Years. With them you can quickly glance at when and where you were, see and scrub through thumbnails, see a map view of your photos spread out across the world, and even copy a photo to the clipboard so you can insert it into a message. All with just a few taps and swipes!

How to organize photos and videos into albums on your iPhone or iPad

How to organize photos and videos into albums on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app on iPhone and iPad gives you quick and easy access to all your pictures and videos. Apple even automagically sorts them into moments, collections, and years to make finding specific photos and videos by time and location even easier. Apple also creates a few albums to organize things logically. For example, Camera Roll, My Photos Stream, Panoramas, and Videos. While you can't change or delete the Apple-generated albums, you can add and manage your own, so that exactly the photos you want are exactly where you want them, whenever you want to find them there.

How to rotate photos on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app lets you do all sorts of basic, useful things with the pictures on your iPhone and iPad, including rotating them 90 degrees at a time. It's especially useful when the Camera app misbehaves and one of your photos ends up coming out sideways, but it can also be a fun way to turn things around, and even upside down. Best of all, the built-in Photos app makes it easy to do!

How to use smart photo composition tools for iPhone and iPad

If you've ever taken a photo only to realize that it wasn't exactly how you wanted it composition wise, iOS can help you straight and even crop it to your liking. Or perhaps you'd like to change the aspect ratio so your photos will fit into a specific frame. Whether you're cropping out an object you don't want in the photo or just need to perform a little straightening, smart photo composition tools make the process easier than ever.

How to use smart photo adjustment tools in the Photos app

Depending on lighting and environmental factors we sometimes can't control, we may need to make some edits to our photos to get them exactly to our liking. The Photos app in iOS does a great job at making basic edits with extremely little effort. Even better, you can let iOS do most of the heavy lifting, or you can take control of your edits with even more granular control than ever.

How to auto-enhance photos on your iPhone and iPad

The Photos app in iOS offers a handy auto-enhance feature that tries to automagically make your pictures looks at good as they possibly can. While it's no replacement for advanced editing tools, for people who either aren't familiar with those kinds of tools, or simply don't want to use them, auto-enhance can do a good-enough job on most overly dark, overly bright, or oddly colored photos most of the time. Best of all, Photos will keep your original image safe, so if you don't like the auto-enhance, you can go right back to the original!

How to use photo and video extensions in the iOS Photos app

Photo and video extensions give you easy access to all of your favorite editing tools and filters from your favorite third party App Store apps. Have a filter that you love from VSCO Cam but some edits that you need to make in another app? No problem! As long as your apps support extensions, you can access and apply everything through the stock Photo app, no need to ever even launch another app.

How to apply filters to your photos on iPhone and iPad

The Photos app for iPhone and iPad has gotten in on the filters game and that means it can apply mono, tonal, noir, fade, chrome, process, transfer, and instant looks to any of your pictures. As filters go, they're towards the subtle and simple side — nothing as aggressive as Instagram or deep as VSCO Cam — but they add a little variety, which is never a bad thing. Best of all, the built-in Photos app filters are non-destructive, so if you apply one and later on change your mind, you can go back and pick another or remove it completely.

How to remove redeye from photos on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app on your iPhone and iPad includes the ability to remove redeye from your pictures. Whether they're the result of flash or glare, whether they're in a selfie or portrait or group shot, you can quickly and easily go in and get rid of redeye with just a few taps. Best of all, the redeye detection is smart, so if there's nothing to remove, nothing gets removed, and no damage gets done.

How to crop photos on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app on your iPhone and iPad can do all sorts of useful, basic editing, including cropping your pictures however you'd like. Just grab the handles and crop out anything you want. It's incredibly handy for removing excess sky or background, for using the guides to properly frame according to the rule of thirds, or even for cutting out elements —or people! — you don't want in your photo. Best of all, if you ever change your mind about a crop, you can revert back to the original whenever you'd like!

How to trim videos on your iPhone or iPad

How to trim a video on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app for iPhone and iPad doesn't just let you quickly edit pictures, it lets you trim videos as well. Whether you want to remove a few seconds or minutes of dead time at the beginning or end of your video, or pull out only the best part to share, it's easy to slide the in- and out-points along the time line and set just the perfect beginning and end for your video.

How to share photos on your iPhone and iPad

How to share photos on your iPhone and iPad

The Photos app on iPhone and iPad doesn't just keep all your pictures organized and available for you to look at, it makes it incredibly easy to share them via AirDrop, iMessage, Mail, or send to Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr. You can share individual photos, a set of selected photos, or an entire "moment". Thanks to Photos, sharing is only ever a few taps away!

How to share videos on your iPhone or iPad

How to share videos on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app doesn't just let you easily share pictures, it lets you easily share videos as well. You get the same built-in options like Mail, and iCloud, along with social networks like YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo as well. And all it takes is just a few taps!

How to make a photo slideshow on your iPhone or iPad

How to make a photo slideshow on your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app for iPhone and iPad not only lets you edit and organize your pictures, but also lets you show them off to friends and family with just a few taps. That's thanks to the built-in slideshow feature, which ads movement and sound and special transition. If you'd like, you can even AirPlay them to an Apple TV for a family or group viewing experience. Just tell it what photo you want to start with!

How to AirPlay from photos on your iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV

How to AirPlay from Photos on your iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV

With AirPlay you can send whatever you're looking at on your iPhone or iPad directly to your Apple TV, including the pictures and videos in your Photos app. Whether they're from the big game or the latest trip, a must-see moment or just a bit of fun, you're only ever a few taps from taking your photos from the small screen in your hand to the big one in your living or conference room.

How to assign photos to contacts on your iPhone or iPad

How to assign photos to contacts on your iPhone or iPad

Adding pictures to the contacts in your iPhone or iPad is a great way to make the people in your life more recognizable. You can add them using the Photos app, the Contacts app, and even import them from social networks like Facebook. Once you've added the photos, you'll see them in iMessage, in phone favorites, and more!

How to set a photo as your wallpaper to customize your iPhone or iPad

How to change the wallpaper on your iPhone or iPad

One of the ways to make your iPhone or iPad your own is to set a different or unique wallpaper for your Lock screen, your Home screen, or both. As long as the photo is roughly the right resolution and aspect ratio, it should look great. You can change your wallpaper in either the Settings app or the Photos app.

How to print photos with AirPrint from your iPhone or iPad

How to print photos with AirPrint from your iPhone or iPad

The Photos app lets you to almost anything with the pictures you have stored on your iPhone, including printing them with the built-in AirPrint service to any compatible printer on the same Wi-Fi network. AirPrint is a simple, direct way to make hard copies of your memories without ever having to transfer anything to your computer first. All right from the Share Sheet, and all with just a few taps!

How to set up and start using Photo Stream on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and PC

How to set up and start using Photo Stream on your iPhone and iPad

Photo Stream is built right into the Photos app on iPhone and iPad. It's part of iCloud that seamlessly syncs your photos any time you're connected to a wifi network. Take a picture (or screen shot) on your iPhone or iPad and Photo Stream will store a copy of that picture on Apple's servers and push copies down to all your other iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Photo Stream will store up to 1000 photos, or 30 days of photos at at time. If you aren't yet familiar with Photo Stream, we can walk you through everything you need to get started.

How to create and manage shared Photo Streams on iPhone and iPad

How to create and manage shared Photo Streams on iPhone and iPad

Photo Stream, a part of iCloud, not only backs up your your photos to Apple's online servers, but gives you an easy way to share them with friends and family who also use iPhones and iPads. Shared Photo Streams let you pass along as many photos as you want at once, which is a lot more convenient than emailing or texting tons of pictures. Not only that, your friends and family can also add their own photos and comment on yours. If you aren't sure how to start using shared Photo Streams, follow along and we'll get you started!

And if your friends, family members, or colleagues aren't using Apple products, there's also an option to create a public website so they can view the Photo Stream as well.

How to use your Photo Stream as the screen saver on your Apple TV

How to use your Photo Stream as the screen saver on your Apple TV

If you own an iPhone and an Apple TV, you can use your Photo Stream photos as your screen saver. They're likely far more personal and meaningful to you than the natural photography Apple includes as default. Best of all, as you take new photos, they'll automatically update and you'll always have new and fresh photos for people to see!

WARNING: If you set up Photo Stream as tour screen saver on Apple TV, make sure you don't include any pictures you or those seeing them might find inappropriate or embarrassing.

Best photo apps for iPhone

Best photo editing apps for iPhone: Lightroom, Photoshop, Snapseed, and more!

If the built-in tools in Photos just aren't enough for you, there are several really great photo apps available in the App Store. From more advanced photo editing and filtering options to more private sharing options, to ways to make collages and more, the App Store has you covered. But which photo apps are the very best?

How to get more help with Photos and iOS

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to use Photos for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide


Great article Renee. Remember though in the Folder explanation you covered there is no more "camera roll" since iOS 8. This was and still seems to be a sticking point with a lot of people who want this back. They seemed to have replaced camera roll with the "recent" album, by chance do we know how long they stay there until the pictures are moved out?

I haven't been able to find out how long they stay in the recent album, but if I had to guess, I'd say 30 days. Same amount as the "recently deleted" album. I also wish that when you created a new folder, you could actually move the picture there without it just being a link back to the original picture.

Very informative article. Was wondering if you know if its possible to adjust the date taken on a photo? Useful for if I am on the go and I have run into an old physical photo and use my iPhone as a scanner and want it to be in the photos app in the correct timeline.


Another question: is it in any way possible to sort the entries in the "events" album list? Right now the events are unsorted: I'm looking at my events list, and I have, in this order: "halloween field trip" (which was from 2008), "16 Sep 2011", "26 sep 2010", "6 sep 2010", "13 apr 2014", "cats & caledon"... this is neither sorted by date nor alphanumerically. Seemingly not the big of a deal, given that the "collections" view helps you. But if you want to post an older picture to, say, Facebook - well, fuggetaboutit. The photo picker shows the events in the order that Photos presents them, which is to say, at random. So unless you want to scroll through and look at the titles of every one of your hundreds of randomly sorted event titles, there's no practical way to find that picture of your daughter at grandma's house at Christmas three years ago, even if you know the date of the picture.

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