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Become a Master of Your Photos With These Apple Photo Tips

Closeup of iPhone screen with many apps, like Apple Photos, on teal blue background.

Reading Time: 13 minutes read

Every picture taken and video recorded on an iPhone automatically saves to the Apple Photos app. It’s an underrated feature most people don’t think twice about. When used regularly, it becomes clear that it’s much more than a silo of snapshots. It’s great for editing images, sharing memories, and creating personalized photo projects. This guide offers Apple photo tips with step-by-step instructions to help you get the most out of the app. Learn how to use Apple Photos’ best features.

Apple Photo Tips: Storing Your Memories

How to save photos and save space

Too many photos to take additional ones? They don’t need to be deleted. To save precious storage space, turn on iCloud Photos, and take advantage of its optimizing feature. All original, high-resolution photos and videos will save to iCloud Photos, while space-saving versions are left on the device. Photos are prioritized based on how often they’re accessed.

On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Go to Settings and select your name at the top.
  2. Tap “iCloud”.
  3. Under “Apps Using iCloud”, tap “Photos”.
  4. Turn on iCloud Photos by toggling the slider to the “on” position. When turned on, the slider is green.
  5. While on that page, tap “Optimize [Device] Storage”. A checkmark will appear when activated.

On a Mac:

  1. Open the Photos App and click “Photos” in the top menu bar.
  2. Click “Preferences”.
  3. Navigate to the iCloud tab (versus General).
  4. Click the button next to “Optimize Mac Storage” to select this space-saving feature.
Man holding iPhone uses Apple Photo tips to like or favorite images in the app.

How to favorite a photo

When it comes to photos, it’s okay to pick favorites. To “favorite” a photo makes it easier to find later.

On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Open the Apple Photos app and tap the Photos tab in the bottom left corner.
  2. Find a photo and tap on it.
  3. Hit the heart icon in the middle at the bottom. When the heart is solid blue, it’s considered a “favorite”.
  4. To “un-favorite” a photo, simply tap the heart icon again so it becomes clear.  

On a Mac:

  1. Select “Photos” at the very top of the left menu bar to view all photos.
  2. Find a photo and double click to select it.
  3. In the top-right menu bar, select the heart icon. When the heart turns solid gray, it’s considered a “favorite” photo.
  4. To “un-favorite”, click the heart icon again to clear it out.   

How to find favorites later

Favorites are saved to a dedicated Favorites album. For iPhone users, that means navigating to the Albums option in the bottom menu of the app. When using Apple Photos on Mac, find the Favorites album in the left menu bar.

How to hide a photo

Whether for security purposes or personal preference, some photos may need to be hidden from the main camera roll. Hiding a photo puts it in the Hidden Photos folder, which is within the Albums section. That folder is only accessible in the Albums section when made accessible.

On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Navigate to the Photos tab in the bottom left corner.
  2. Select the photo to be hidden.
  3. Press the Share icon (square with an arrow pointing up) in the bottom left corner.
  4. Scroll down to the Hide option (an eye with a line across it).
  5. Confirm by selecting “Hide Photo” in red.

On a Mac:

  1. Select Photos in the top left menu bar to view all photos.
  2. Find and select the photo to be hidden.
  3. Once selected, click “Image” from the screen’s top menu bar.
  4. Move the cursor down and click “Hide 1 Photo”.
  5. Confirm by selecting the blue “Hide Photo” button.

Bonus Apple Photos trick: Mac users can right-click the image and select “Hide 1 Photo” or use the shortcut key Command + L.

How to find hidden photos

On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Go to the Albums tab and scroll all the way down to the Other Albums section.
  2. Tap the Hidden album to view all hidden images and videos.

On a Mac:

  1. Go to the screen’s top menu bar and click “View”.
  2. Move the cursor down to the third section and select Show Hidden Photo Album. This places the Hidden album in the left menu bar with other albums.

How to mass-delete photos

Hitting the delete button is the first step to organize photos in your Apple Photos app. It helps minimize clutter and maximize the most significant memories. Images can be deleted individually. If a collection builds up, mass deleting is also an option.

Note: when deleting a photo (or several), it ends up in the Recently Deleted folder. After 30 days, that folder automatically clears out. Until then, photos can be recovered in the Recently Deleted folder if deleted accidentally.

  1. Go to the Photos tab in the bottom left.
  2. Tap “Select” in the top right corner.
  3. Tap each photo to be deleted. A checkmark will pop up to indicate that the photo has been selected.
  4. When deleting several photos right next to each other, simply slide a finger across without lifting. This speeds up the selection process.
  5. Tap the trash bin in the bottom right corner.
  6. Confirm by selecting “Delete [X] Items” in red.

Apple Photo Search Tricks

After amassing thousands of photos, the Apple Photos search bar becomes extremely convenient. Photos can be searched through by typing in a related keyword. People and Places can also be used for searching.

How to use Search in Apple Photos

On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Navigate to the Search tab in the bottom right corner.
  2. In the search bar at the top, type a keyword such as ‘Birthday’ or ‘Restaurant.’
  3. A collection of photos related to that keyword will appear. Tap “See All” to view all related photos.
  4. Scroll down to find a few more sections related to the keywords searched including Moments, Categories, and more. Under each of those sections might be sub-sections with a corresponding number that indicates how many photos are in each. This can help narrow down the search.
Woman on Mac laptop uses Apple photo search tricks to find images to create a Motif album.

On a Mac:

  1. Click “All Photos” in the left menu bar.
  2. Type keywords in the Search Bar in the upper right corner. All photos related to that keyword will appear as one Category – no sub-sections.

How to view photos of specific people

On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Go to the Albums tab and scroll down to “People & Places”.
  2. Tap “People” and familiar faces will appear.  
  3. Tap a face to view photos featuring that person.

On a Mac:

  1. Click the People Album on the left menu bar.
  2. Select a person and a collection of photos featuring that face will appear.

How to view photos on a map

On iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Tap the Albums tab and scroll down to “People & Places”.
  2. Tap “Places” and a map will appear.
  3. Use fingers to move around the world and view clusters of photos from different places.

On a Mac:

  1. Click the Places Album on the left menu bar.
  2. Use the mouse to move around the map and view clusters of photos from different places.

Apple Photo Tips: Editing 101

How to edit a photo

There are slightly different photo editing features within Apple Photos on Mac vs. iPhone. Both offer filters, cropping, rotations, and automatic enhancements. The iPhone allows for adjustments to vibrance, saturation, contrast, shadows, and other photography elements.

  1. In Apple Photos, select a photo to edit.
  2. Click the Image tab at the top and scroll to “Show Edit Tools”. A black sidebar will appear with the options to crop, rotate, enhance, filter, or retouch. These are general editing tools. But, wait, there’s more!
  3. Select the Adjust icon. At first, only basic adjustments may be visible, such as those for lightness, color, and black and white.
  4. For even more useful Apple photo tricks, click the blue “Add” option in the upper right corner.
  5. Select any other editing tools from the drop-down menu that sharpen the image, change color tone, add vignettes, reduce noise, and more. A checkmark indicates the tool has been selected.

How to select a different frame from a Live Photo

For all Live Photos, Apple picks the frame it thinks is best. That frame can be changed on newer iPhones. The option to select a different “key photo” was added to iOS 11. It’s also available for Mac users with macOS High Sierra.

  1. Choose a Live Photo and tap “Edit” in the upper right corner.
  2. Select the Live Photos icon in the bottom left (the three-ring circle). A photo navigation bar will appear.
  3. Tap all the frames in the photo bar to choose new ones.
  4. Hit “Make Key Photo” to select the new frame.

How to apply Effect Suggestions to photos

Apple offers Effect Suggestions for photos it thinks could be enhanced. It might suggest Portrait mode, Studio Lighting mode, or a Loop effect on a Live Photo. It’s like having a photographer’s eye at your fingertips.

  1. Go to the For You tab and scroll down to the “Effect Suggestions” section.
  2. Swipe right to view all the photos Apple thinks would benefit from editing.
  3. Select a photo and click “Apply to Original”.

Not sure about the changes you made? No problem. Select the photo in the Effect Suggestions section and click Revert at the bottom. It will return to the previous version.

Man takes photo of 4 friends at bar, then uses Apple Photo tips to create a Shared album.

Apple Photo Tips: Sharing Memories

Individual photos can be shared by selecting the image and clicking the Share icon (a square with an arrow) in the bottom left corner. From there, a menu pops up offering the option to share through AirDrop, AirPlay, text, email, or social media. These are all straightforward steps. Simply tap the preferred share option, and the photo is sent instantly. 

How to transfer photos to other devices

The easiest way to transfer Apple Photos on iOS to Mac (or vice versa) is to use iCloud Photos. As mentioned above, it saves photos and videos to the cloud, which can be accessed from any device. Simply visit iCloud.com, login, and download any or all of the saved images. They will save directly to whichever device is currently logged in. If working with a Windows PC, download iCloud for Windows, first.

How to create a Shared Album with Apple Photos on iOS

Shared Albums allow multiple people to view the same images and videos in one place. Anyone invited to the Shared Album is also allowed to contribute. This type of album can be created on an iPhone or iPad.   

  1. Go to the Photos tab and tap “Select” in the upper right corner.
  2. Choose the photos to be shared.
  3. Tap the Share icon in the bottom left corner. Scroll up on the menu and tap “Add to Shared Album”.
  4. A pop-up for commenting will appear. Under the comments section, click “Shared Album” to change the album.
  5. Add photos to an existing Shared Album or create a new one.
  6. Select “New Shared Album” next to the + sign.
  7. Give the Shared Album a name and click “Next”.
  8. Add recipients from Apple Contacts by simply typing their name. Or, tap the circled + symbol to view all contacts and select from there.
  9. Once all Contacts are listed, click Next.
African American couple looks at the Motif photo album they created using Apple Photo tips.

Apple Photo Tips: Creating Projects

How to Make a Memory Movie

Without prompting, Apple Photos will string together a set of photos to create a Memory Movie. It pulls from either a single day of photos, a week, a month or a year’s collection. It’s a sweet and sentimental highlight reel that is easy to use. In fact, a Memory Movie can be created in a few simple steps.

  1. Tap on the Photos tab in the bottom left.
  2. Find the collection of images to be used for the movie.
  3. Tap the three dots in the top right corner of that collection. A menu will appear at the bottom.
  4. Select “Play”.
  5. To save, click “Edit” in the top right corner. It will ask to Add to Memories. Click “OK”.
  6. Give it a Title, which will be what appears on the first (Title) image as an overlay.
  7. Click “Done” in the upper right corner.  

Want to customize the Memory Movie even more? Follow the steps below.

How to edit a Memory Movie

Memory Movies can be altered, even the ones Apple creates automatically. The editing options are limited. The length and music can be adjusted to make it more personalized.

  1. Go to the For You tab and click “See All” in the Memories section.
  2. Tap the Memory Movie to be edited. Hit the play icon in the bottom right corner.
  3. While the movie is playing, tap on it one time. Two toolbars will appear.
  4. Select music tones on the top toolbar. Choose for Dreamy, Sentimental, Happy, Club, etc.
  5. The bottom toolbar is for the duration of the movie. Select “Short” or “Medium”.
  6. For more options, tap “Edit” in the upper right corner. Here the title, title image, the photos/videos being used can be changed.

How to make an Apple Photo Album

A video slideshow is a nice trip down memory lane. But it doesn’t have the same impact as a printed collection of photos. For a more tangible, gift-worthy project, download the Motif app. It integrates with Apple Photos for a completely seamless experience. The app flows your edited and organized photos into professionally designed layouts. That leaves you the fun customizing of your first Apple photo book – or second, third, tenth, or twentieth.

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