Photos app on iPhone

To help keep your pictures and videos organized, the Photos app automatically sorts them 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, scrub through everything and anything, 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. There are still albums you can access as well. And all of it with just a few taps and swipes!

How to move between Moments, Collections, and Years smart groups

  1. Launch the Photos app from your iPhone or iPad Home page.
  2. Tap the back button on the top left of your screen. The further back you go, the larger the search area (days to months to years).
  3. Tap a photo or video thumbnail to move to a smaller group. (Tapping a thumbnail in Moments view will move you to that individual photo.)

While many iOS apps let you navigate back by swiping from the left bezel, that gesture isn't available in Photos. (You can swipe between individual pictures or videos to move to the previous or next shot.)

How to view picture and video locations on a map

While Moments, Collections, and Years all give you the names of the locations where your pictures and videos were taken, they can also show you those locations on a map.

  1. Launch the Photos app from your iPhone or iPad Home page.
  2. Tap on the name of the location above the group of photos for which you'd like a location.
  3. Swipe up to find the map. It may take a little bit of scrolling.

    You'll have to make sure your Location Services are turned on and that you have them enabled for your Camera app. If you didn't have them on before, turning them on won't show you the location of photos you've already taken.

How to scrub through and quickly jump to a picture or video in Collections or Years

Because of the volume of photos in Collections or Years view, the thumbnails are small and can be hard to see. Luckily, there's a scrubbing gesture that not only lets you get a better look, but also lets you jump immediately to that picture or video so you don't have to tap your way through Moments first.

  1. Launch the Photos app from your Home screen
  2. Tap and hold on the Year or Collection view screen.
  3. Lightly tap and slide your finger back and forth across the collection. This will give you a larger thumbnail view of each photo.
  4. Press firmly on the photo you'd like to view. If you have a pre-3D Touch iPhone model, then just hold on that photo.

How to quickly copy a picture or video to the clipboard in Moments or Albums

If you see a picture or video in Moments or Album view that you really want to copy to the clipboard so you can paste it into a message or document (where supported), you don't have to go through all the taps to get to the Share Sheet. There's a gesture shortcut that lets you do it right away.

  1. Launch the Photos app from your Home screen.
  2. Tap Select in the top right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap the photo or video you'd like to copy.

  4. Tap the share button on the bottom left of the screen. It's a box with an arrow pointing upward.
  5. Tap Copy on the popup menu.

Updated January 2019: Updated for iOS 12.