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How to Take and Edit Live Photos to Make Videos, GIFs & More!

Jonathan Wylie is a digital learning consultant who has a passion for helping others get the best out of their technology.

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How to Take a Live Photo

Live Photos are a great way to add life to moments of joy that you capture with your iPhone camera. When a photo isn't enough, but a video is overkill, the Live Photo is exactly what you need. They are enabled by default on all iPhones, but they are easy to turn off by mistake, so here is how to make sure you have Live Photos enabled.

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Look for the Live Photo icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen. (Hint: it looks like three concentric circles).
  3. If the icon has a line through it, Live Photos are disabled. Tap the icon to enable it and you will see a banner notification that says LIVE.
  4. If the Live Photos icon does not have a line through it, you are ready to shoot. Tap the capture button to take your photo.

Once enabled, your iPhone should remember your preferences and keep Live Photos turned on until you turn them off again. You can see all your Live Photos by opening the Photos app, tapping Albums, and then scrolling down until your see the option to open your Live Photos album. Press and hold on any Live Photo to see the animated version.

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How to Create a Video from Live Photos

You don't need to be an expert with iMovie to create a fun video on your iPhone. In fact, it you can take some photos, you can make a video, thanks to the magic of Live Photos. This is a great option for sharing with your Android or Windows friends who can't view Live Photos. Here's how it works.

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Select the Live Photo(s) you want to turn into a video
  3. Tap the Share arrow
  4. Scroll down and tap, Save as Video
  5. Go to Albums > Recent to see your video

This can be a fun way to create a quick video for an Instagram story or for sharing with others on iMessage. Sound that you recorded at the time of capture will be saved in your video, and your Live Photo video can be shared or exported to other apps just like you can with any other video.

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Turn a Live Photo into an Animated GIF

Videos are fun, but GIFs are more meme-worthy. Thankfully, your iPhone includes the option to turn a Live Photo into an Animated GIF in just a few quick taps. Here's how:

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Find and tap the Live Photo you want to turn into a GIF
  3. Swipe up on the screen to reveal the options underneath your photo
  4. Select Loop or Bounce to see a GIF version of your Live Photo
  5. Go back to Albums > Animated to see all the GIFS you created

Another option in this menu is the Long Exposure option. This feature blurs movement to simulate the effect of a slow shutter speed. Try taking a picture of some moving vehicles at night, and then use this option to see some blurred tail lights and light streaks. Waterfalls and fireworks also work great.

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How to Edit a Live Photo (Part One)

Have you ever taken a photo and had someone walk into your frame at the exact moment you pressed the capture button? Most of us have, but one of the great things about Live Photos is that they capture information before and after you take your photo. This means you can essentially rewind or fast forward through time to the exact moment where that wandering person was not in your picture. Apple calls this choosing a key photo. Here's how to do it with your Live Photos.

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Find and tap the Live Photo that you want to change
  3. Tap the Edit button in the top right-hand corner of the screen
  4. Next, tap the Live Photo icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen
  5. Drag your finger over the slider underneath the photo to choose the key photo that you want to use as your image
  6. Tap, Make Key Photo to confirm your choice, and then tap Done to finish
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How to Edit a Live Photo (Part Two)

Most people forget about Live Photos until they decide to turn them into a video or a GIF. This means that if you don't keep your iPhone steady for a few seconds before and after you press the shutter button, then the animated version of your Live Photo can be a little jumpy when you play it back. The good news is that you can edit your Live Photo to remove the worst parts of your shaky camera work. Here's how that works.

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Find and tap the Live Photo you want to work with
  3. Tap Edit in the top right-hand corner of the screen
  4. Tap the Live Photo icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen
  5. On the slider underneath the photo, press and hold on the arrow to the left (or right) of the slider and drag it to the right (or left) to trim the beginning (or end) of the video

This method is exactly the same as how you would trim a video in the Photos app. The only real difference is that a Live Photo is only three seconds long, so you can't trim very much. However, this option is still useful if you want to tidy up a Live Photo before sharing it as a video or a GIF.

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How to Convert a Live Photo to a Still Photo

If you share a Live Photo with another iPhone user, they get the same Live Photo version that you see on your phone. That means they can press and hold on the image to see the seconds before and after it was captured. However, if you want to disable this ability and still preserve a live version, you can. Here's how.

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Find and tap on the Live Photo you want to share
  3. Tap the Share arrow, and choose Duplicate
  4. Select, Duplicate as a Still Photo
  5. The still photo can be found in the Recents album

If you don't need two copies of the same photo, you can enable or disable the live part of any photo by following these directions.

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Find and tap on the Live Photo you want to share
  3. Tap Edit
  4. Tap the Live Photos icon in the bottom left-hand corner
  5. Tap the yellow LIVE button at the top of the image to disable it
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How to Edit Live Photos on iOS

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Jonathan Wylie