Live Photos: The Complete Guide to iPhone Live Images

* This article is from our Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Learn about Live Photos, moving pictures that you can view, edit, share, turn into a GIF or video, or use as animated wallpaper. Here's our Live Photo guide, with tutorials for everything you can do with Apple's live pictures on an iPhone.

Related: How to Organize, Share & Store iPhone Photos

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Interested in iPhone photography? In this guide, we'll go over how to take Live Photos on an iPhone or iPad. We'll also cover how to edit Live Photos, save stills of Live Photos, share Live Photos, and use them as Live Photo Wallpaper for your iPhone Lock screen. We'll go over how to make a GIF on an iPhone or iPad, right from a Live Photo in the Photos app! We'll also cover how to change the key photo in a Live Photo, and how to save stills from Live Photos. Finally, we'll cover how to turn two or more Live Photos into a video. For more great Photos app tutorials, check out our free Tip of the Day

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What iPhones & iPads Take Live Photos? 

Do all iPhones take Live Photos? No, but most of them do. Here's a list of iPhone models and iPad models that can use Apple's Live Photo feature.

  • iPhone 6 models
  • iPhone 7 models
  • iPhone 8 models
  • iPhone X models
  • iPhone 11 models
  • iPhone 12 models
  • iPhone 13 models
  • iPhone SE 1, 2 & 3
  • iPad 5th generation and later
  • iPad Air 3rd generation
  • iPad mini 5th generation
  • iPad Pro models 2016 and later

What Is a Live Photo & How Does It Work?

When you take a Live Photo, your iPhone or iPad captures the audio and video 1.5 seconds before and 1.5 seconds after you tap the shutter button. Any recording not part of the Live Photo is discarded, but it’s an important part of capturing those three seconds for your iPhone moving photos. Live Photos is on by default, but you can follow our tutorial on how to turn off Live Photos on your iPhone if you'd rather manually engage the feature.

A key image from the Live Photo will show in the Photos app Library. Press and hold the image to view the whole thing. You can also play live photos on a Mac if it's running OS X El Capitan or later.

You can turn Live Photos on and off by tapping the Live Photos icon at the top of the screen. With iPhone models 11 and later, there is also an Auto option in addition to the regular On and Off tucked away in a new Camera control panel, along with some other settings.

How to Turn On Live Auto in the Camera Control Panel

  1. Tap the small gray arrow at the top of the screen on your iPhone 11 or later.

    tap the small gray arrow at the top of the screen
  2. Tap the Live Photo icon.

    tap the live photo icon
  3. Tap Auto to turn on Live Auto. You can also turn Live Photos on or off from here.

    tap automatic, on, or off

How to Take Live Photos on Your iPhone

Live Photos are easy to take because the feature is on by default when you open the Camera app on your iPhone (unless you've turned Live Photos off). Depending on your iPhone model, you will either have a white icon, similar in appearance to a bullseye, in the upper-right corner of your screen or a yellow icon in the top-center of your screen. That icon indicates that Live Photos is on. To turn Live Photos off for any reason, you can tap the icon; the yellow icon will turn white, and the white icon will have a line through it, and your screen will say Live Off.

To take a Live Photo:

  1. Open the Camera app.

    iphone camera app
  2. Depending on your iPhone model, make sure the icon at the center of the screen is yellow or that the white icon in the right corner has no line through it.

    tap the live photo icon to be sure live photo is on
  3. Tap the white shutter button.

    tap the shutter button to take a live photo

That’s all there is to it. Taking a Live Photo could not be easier. Now, let’s learn how to view Live Photos.

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How to View a Live Photo on Your iPhone

Viewing a Live Photo is a simple matter of pressing and holding the image. To view a Live Photo:

  1. Open the Photos app.

    iphone photos app
  2. Tap the Albums tab, then scroll down and tap Live photos.

    live photos in albums tab on iphone
  3. Once you’ve found the Live Photo you want to view, tap it to make it full screen.
  4. Press and hold the Live Photo; the three seconds will play.

    tap and hold live photo to play

That’s how to view a Live Photo on your iPhone, but what about how to view a Live Photo on a computer? If you have a Mac running OS X El Capitan or later, you can double-click the Live Photo you want to play, then position the pointer over the Live button in the corner, or press Option-Space Bar. If you want to immediately share these photos with a select group of contacts, learn how to create an iCloud Shared Library.

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How to Edit a Live Photo

If you have iOS 10 or later downloaded on your iPhone, you can edit Live Photos. With iOS 9, Live Photos had to be turned into still photos before you could edit them. If you have an older iOS, the photo can be edited, but it will not remain Live. There are lots of different edits you can make on live photos, to edit a Live Photo:

  1. Find the Live Photo you want to edit and tap it.
  2. Tap Edit.

    tap the edit icon
  3. Tap the Filter icon at the bottom to add a filter to the Live Photo.

    tap the filters icon
  4. Choose a filter and tap Done.

    tap done after you've chosen your photo filter

Beyond adding filters, you can use the Edit function to rotate photos, mirror-image photos, and crop photos. You can't, unfortunately, use Markup on Live Photos.  

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How to Convert & Save Stills of a Live Photo on Your iPhone

Can you take a frame from a Live Photo? Yes! If a Live Photo you take captures a bit of video or audio you don’t want getting out, or perhaps you simply want the still version of a Live Photo because it takes up less space on your iPhone, you can save a new Key Image from a Live Photo and keep or ditch the original. You can also learn how to save part of a Live Photo as a single frame after looking at all the frames in the live picture.

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How to Share Live Photos on Your iPhone

You can share Live Photos in the same way you would still images. If an application doesn’t support the Live Photo, it will appear as a still photo to the recipient. You can share Live Photos via text message, iMessages, iCloud Photo Sharing, or AirDrop. The recipient can touch and hold the Live Photo to view it. To share Live Photos:

  1. Find and tap the Live Photo you want to share. A Live Photo will have the word Live in the top left corner of the photo.

    tap the Live icon to turn live photo off
  2. Tap the Share icon.

    tap the share icon
  3. If the person you’re sharing the image with is in range and has an Apple device, simply AirDrop it to them.

    tap airdrop
  4. Otherwise, tap Messages, Mail, or another option, then tap the Send icon.

    tap the send icon to email or send mesage

If you send the photo via Messages, you can verify you sent the Live Photo by looking at the conversation thread. The Live Photo you sent will have the Live icon in the upper left corner.

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How to Turn a Live Photo into a GIF

With iOS 11 and later, you can turn a Live Photo into a GIF right in the Photos app on your iPhone or iPad. You can make a Bounce GIF or Loop GIF in a few easy steps. Here's how to turn a Live Photo into a GIF in the Photos app.

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How to Share Live Photos on Facebook & Instagram

If you want to share your Live Photos to Facebook, you have to turn the Live Photo into a GIF using the steps above. After that, you can post a Live Photo on Facebook.

If you want to learn how to post a Live Photo on Instagram, it's a bit of a different process. Here's how to post Live Photos on Instagram: 

  1. Open the Instagram app.
  2. Tap the Plus sign, then tap Story.

    tap the plus icon, then tap story
  3. Tap Select.

    tap select to choose boomerang photo
  4. Tap a photo that you've turned into a Bounce or Loop GIF; this will be indicated by a Boomerang icon (infinity symbol). 

    tap a photo with the instagram boomerang symbol
  5. Tap the forward arrow.

    tap the forward arrow
  6. Tap the Boomerang icon.

    tap the boomerang icon
  7. Tap Done, tap the forward arrow one more time, then tap Share.

    tap share to share live photo on instagram
  8. Tap Done.

    tap done to post the boomerang

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How to Turn Live Photos into Videos

Can you combine Live Photos into a video? Yes! You can quickly turn them into video loops. If you have two or more, you can learn how to turn Live Photos into a video on your iPhone here.

How to Set a Live iPhone Wallpaper with Live Photos


The iOS 16 update made turning live photos into wallpapers impossible, however, it also created new dynamic wallpaper possibilities.

Apple offers several free, cool wallpapers with each new iOS update, and at least four of them are live wallpapers. You can use these as a live Lock screen wallpaper, Home screen wallpaper, or both (though the photo won't be animated on your Home screen). Here's how to choose a moving wallpaper on an iPhone or iPad.

Even more fun is to use a Live Photo you've taken to make live wallpaper or a live custom photo sticker! Here's how to use a Live Photo to make iPhone wallpaper and how to take the best live photo to create a unique GIF-type sticker.

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Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

Conner Carey's writing can be found at She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.