Apple’s iOS Photos app has some useful features you’re probably overlooking.
Apart from being a home for all of your device’s photos and videos, Photos is full of surprises. For example, did you know that you can recover deleted photos, remove red eye in just two taps, trim your videos, and even shrink the file size of your photo attachments before emailing them?
Today we’ll show you how to do all this and more. You should also check out our list of hidden iOS 9 features , which will show you how to hide photos and make large selections quicker than ever before.
Browsing & Searching Using Photos
Every iOS device, be it an iPhone, iPad or even iPod Touch comes with a Photos app — with its content split across three sections. The Photos section contains all your photos arranged by date. From here, you can tap Years at the top to see your photos arranged by year and place. Tap any place name that appears to see those photos pinned to a world map.
The Shared section lists media that has been shared with you, or that you’ve shared with others using iCloud’s Photo Sharing service.
Within the Albums section, the Camera Roll/All Photos folder contains all the photos you’ve taken on this particular device, and ones that you’ve downloaded or saved (from other apps). If you’ve tapped the heart-shaped icon on any photo or video, then these items appear in a separate Favorites folder.
There are separate Screenshots and Videos folders for quick access here too. Some third-party apps (such as Dropbox) add their own folders so you can quickly access the media files you’ve download through those apps. You’ll also see a separate Selfies folder for photos taken with your front camera. To create your own folder, tap the plus “+” icon at the top, then name it.
One feature you may have missed is the ability to search for photos and videos you’ve taken by date or place. As an example, tap the search icon at the top, and type July 2015 into the search bar to see all the photos and videos taken in that month. Similarly, type a place (such as London, Italy or New York) into the search bar to see all the media files you’ve taken there.
While viewing a photo, you can move the slider at the bottom to quickly scan through different items within that folder. From here, there are two ways to jump to the folder’s parent view. You can either tap the folder name at the top right. Even better, simply swipe down from the photo you’re viewing.
Recover Deleted Photos and Videos
There are many ways to recover storage space on your device . One of the most effective ways of doing so is by deleting unwanted videos and photos, particularly if you’re shooting at 1080 or 4K resolution .
But did you know that your media files aren’t deleted instantly? iOS actually moves them to the Recently Deleted folder where they stay for around 40 days before they’re “permanently deleted.”
Tap Album at the bottom of your app, then tap the Recently Deleted folder to access its files. From here, you can either recover your files or permanently delete them (thereby freeing up storage space). Select the files you want, then either tap Delete or Recover (depending on what you want to do).
If you prefer hiding your iOS photos from prying eyes, then try a few of these apps .
Photo Editing Features
It’s time to delve into Photos’ stellar photo editing features. The icons mentioned below may appear on different areas of your screen – depending on whether you’re using an iPhone, or an iPad. Tap Done at the bottom after confirming your edits, or Cancel to undo them.
The wand-shaped icon lets you fix your photos with one tap. This will straighten your image, and boost its colors by changing its brightness, contrast, and saturation.
Crop and Rotate
The square-shaped icon adds a rectangular outline on your photo with a small dial underneath. Tap Auto at the bottom to automatically straighten your photo. You can move the dial to do this manually.
The small icon at the bottom left rotates your photo by 90 degrees, and the one at the bottom right allows you to change ratio (3:2, 4:3, 16:9 and so on) to crop the image accordingly. Tap and drag the layout’s edges if you want to change its shape. Use the expand or pinch gestures to zoom in or out of your photo within this layout.
The three overlapping circular icons let you apply one of eight filters (including Chrome, Noir, Fade, Tonal, and Mono) to your photos. It’s no Instagram, but it’s a useful option to have without relying on a third-party app.
You can also access third-party filters and editors within the Photos app — just tap the three dots while editing a photo, and hit More to bring up a list of supported apps. Enable them using the checkbox, and then tap on them to quickly access included editing features.
Adjust Your Colors
The dial-shaped icon displays three options – Light, Color and B&W. Tapping each of these brings up a horizontal slider that you can drag across to change that option’s intensity on your image.
The three-lines icon beside the slider displays more options relating your selection. For example, tapping the three-lines icon after choosing Color displays options for Saturation, Contrast, and Cast. Select any of these three options to change its intensity using similar sliders. These are surprisingly powerful tools for those looking to take their photos to the next level.
Remove Red Eye
Sometimes you’ll see an eye icon with a line across it. This is the red eye removal tool. It only appears when the app detects people in the photo, and where the flash has fired. Using the tool is simple: tap it, zoom in on your photo, then tap the red eye effects in your photo to correct them.
Share Your Photos
You probably know how to share your photos, but there are a few subtle features that are easy to miss. Select the photos you want to share, then tap the Share icon to reveal two rows of icons at the bottom. The top row contains all the apps on your device that let you share your photos.
However, some apps won’t appear here by default. For example, Google Hangouts and Microsoft OneDrive are the latest apps to support photo sharing, but you won’t see their options in the top row unless you’ve manually activated them.
There’s an easy way to select which apps appear in the top row. Better still, you can rearrange them so the apps you use most often are displayed at a convenient position within this row. Swipe the top row to the left, then tap the More button at the end.
All the apps that you can share your photos with will now appear as a list. Tap the sliders beside each app to turn on their photo sharing options (doing this adds the apps to the top row). To reposition where a particular app appears within the row, tap and hold the selected app, then move it up or down the list. Tap Done to finalize your changes.
Note: All the photo sharing apps in the top row have limitations, and therefore behave slightly differently. For example, Dropbox only lets you upload one photo at a time, whereas OneDrive lets you upload up to 10 in one go. If you’ve selected more photos than this limit, then those apps won’t appear in the top row.
Resize Attachments Before Emailing
In earlier versions, iOS restricted you to emailing only five photos at a time but, thankfully, it’s done away with that rule. You can email as many photos as you want. To do that, select the photos you want to email, tap the Share icon, then tap Mail to attach them.
Depending on the number of images you attached, the total attachment file size can be considerable. You’ll see this at the top right. If transfer speed is more important than image quality to you, you can adjust the attachment size.
You’ll now see three options to compress and send your attached files. Selecting Large, for example, will compress your attachments without compromising on too much quality. This will ensure your files are sent faster. Check out a few other iOS Mail app tricks you probably don’t know.
To create a slideshow, open your Photos folder and select the images you want to add to your slideshow. Next, tap the Share icon, then tap Slideshow at the bottom. Your slideshow will automatically start playing. To customize it, tap your screen, then tap Options at the bottom.
You can now modify your slideshow’s theme, music, and choose to play it on repeat. The slider at the bottom lets you change the duration of each slide within your montage. While the slideshow is playing, you can swipe right or left to jump to the next or previous slide (before its allocated slideshow display time elapses).
Trim Your Videos
If you want a fully-featured video editor, you’re better off using one of the apps we’ve mentioned here. However, if you only want to trim your video’s start and end points, then the Photos app is perfect. Trimming also reduces your video file size.
Select the video you want to trim, then tap Edit to see a timeline at the bottom. Drag its ends to trim your video, then tap the Play icon to preview your changes. Tap Done to see options to trim your original video, or save the trimmed file as a new clip.
How Do You Use Photos?
If you don’t feel that you’re doing justice to your iPhone camera, then check out our quick start guide . You can also check out a few Pro iPhone courses that will help you take stunning photos on your iPhone or iPad.
The default iOS Photos is packed with so many small, but useful, features that you probably don’t need to download another once you’ve learned how to use it. Who knows, reading this article may have rendered some of your other photo editing apps redundant!
What do you most use the Photos app for? Let us know by posting your thoughts and opinions in the Comments section below.
Image Credit: cheerful woman by Dean Drobot via Shutterstock