How to Select the Aspect Ratio of a Photo Before Hitting the Shutter Button

Tired of cropping after the fact? This iPhone Camera preset lets you resize a photo for Instagram and make an image square before you even take the shot.

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

If you want to make an image square on your iPhone or how to change the aspect ratio of a photo, it's easy to do! Don't wait until it's already taken to crop it to the right dimensions for Instagram; change the aspect ratio right there in your Camera app. Learn how to change your camera settings on your iPhone to take photos with the right dimensions so you don't have to crop it later.

Jump to:

How to Change the Aspect Ratio in Your Camera App

To get your iPhone photo dimensions perfect, you'll want to get it as close as possible when you actually take the photo, so the need for cropping later is minimal. For more great iPhone photography advice, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

  1. Open your Camera app.

  2. Check below your viewfinder to make sure you are in Photo Mode.

  3. Frame the photo you want to take.

  4. Tap the arrow at the top of your screen to access the full action menu below your viewfinder.

  5. Tap the circle that displays a ratio (either 1:1, 4:3, or 16:9).

  6. Select the aspect ratio that best fits your plan for the image.

  7. Tap the shutter button to take the photo.

The 3 Aspect Ratios

There are three aspect ratio options you can choose from, but you have to be in Photo mode. The other modes, such as Portrait and Pano, do not currently offer any different ratios besides the default. So what are the three options and what is each one good for? Let's take a look.


The square option is most popular for when you are sharing pictures on apps like Instagram. Many sites only allow you to upload square photos for your profile pictures, and will crop your photo automatically if it isn't already set like that. While you can always go back in and crop a photo yourself, it's often better to take the picture in square mode when you know that's what you'll want the end result to be, to make sure the composition is what you are looking for.


This is your default aspect ratio for your photos. Many social media sharing sites are formatted for photos like these to be easily shared, and the layout feels intuitive, mimicking many printed photos we've seen throughout the years. Still, if you're particular about photography, you might want to play around with cropping, or even the zoom feature, though this can reduce the quality of the photo itself.


This is the largest photo size you can take on the iPhone right now. It offers an automatic zoom while maintaining the image quality, and allows your photo to take up most of your screen. It most closely mimicks what we naturally see, but it does reduce cropping options as it includes less in the frame, so if you want to go in later and edit, 4:3 might be a better option.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.


Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both's picture

Author Details

Amy Spitzfaden–Both

Amy Spitzfaden Both is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, an award-winning novelist, and an iPhone enthusiast. Over the past decade, her work in the publishing industry has included live coverage of industry events including the Yale Publishing Course and Magazine Innovation’s ACT 9 Experience, providing editing services for several start-up publishing houses, and acting as newsstand consultant for magazines such as The Old Farmer’s Almanac and The New York Review of Books. She graduated from M.I.U. with a Bachelor’s in Literature and Writing, and has gone on to publish two novels and two short stories. Her debut novel Untold won the 2014 Chelson Award for Fiction.
Writing everything from book reviews to skincare tips, Amy discovered a passion for bringing exciting and useful information to even the most casual researcher. The mix of usability and endless possibilities is what drew her to Apple products originally, and the more she learns, the more she loves.
Amy lives in New Hampshire with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing or glued to her iPhone, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and creating her own tea blends.