The Complete Guide to Capturing, Saving and Sharing Live Photos on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus


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Live Photos might seem like a trivial feature but for me, they’re close to my heart. 3D Touch and Touch ID 2 in iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are great additions. But Live Photos can make people smile. Quite literally. I’ve had multiple experiences where I’ve taken photos with someone, showed them the photo, then the Live Photo and I’ve seen a big ol’ smile appear on their face. And isn’t that why we like Apple products after all? For their ability to make people smile.

Let’s take a look at what Live Photos are and how you can do a lot more with them than Apple planned for.

What are Live Photos?

When you tap the shutter button, a Live Photo, along with capturing the still, captures 1.5 seconds of video (15 FPS) before and after you press the button.

To view a Live Photo, all you do is press hard on the iPhone screen (3D Touch) and the photo will animate. The video will play in a loop, accompanied with the audio.

Tips and Tricks

If you’ve only just started taking live photos, here are some tips and tricks.

  • As the Live Photo captures video from before and after you press the shutter button, you’ll need to hold the phone as steady as possible for about 2 seconds after your take the shot. Or else you’ll end up with Live Photos that end with your phone being put down.
  • Low light isn’t the best for capturing Live Photos. I’ve tried many times but to get the best results, it’s always advisable to take shots in bright light. If possible, natural sunlight.
  • Of course, center the subject.

Disable Live Photos

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If you think Live Photo are taking up to much of the space, you can disable it easily. Just open the camera icon and tap the “bullseye” icon on the top.

Use Live Photo as Wallpaper and Watch Face

The default jellyfish 3D Touch wallpapers in iOS 9 are some of the most fun I’ve had while killing time. But what’s even more, fun is putting one of your own Live Photos as a wallpaper.

Go to the Photos app, select the photo, tap the “Share” button and select “Set as wallpaper” from the bottom row.

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That cute photo you took of your kid or your niece? Make that a wallpaper. 3D Touch on the Lock screen and you’ll see it animate. One of the best ways to relive a memory.

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If you’re using an Apple Watch, you can do the same by setting up a Live Photo as a watch face background.

Back Them Up Properly

If you believe in backing up your photos to an external hard drive or just your Mac, you might have a problem. You see, when you export images via Image Capture or other similar apps, it only exports the photo, not the Live Photo.

If you want to backup Live Photos as well, it’s advisable you do say using the Photos app in Mac running OS X El Capitan and higher.

For cloud-based backup solution, just use iCloud Photo Library – the built in option. You get 5 GB for free. After that, you can pay $0.99 for 20 GB and up.

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You can enable iCloud Photo Library by going to “Settings” -> “Photos and Camera”.

If you’re looking for a completely free cloud backup option for your Live Photos, Google Photos is the way to go.

Share Them Natively Wherever You Can

Live Photos, sitting idly on your iPhone are no fun. Sharing them with your friends is what makes them really fun. You can share Live Photos natively using iMessage. If the receiver doesn’t have iOS 9 installed, they’ll see the Live Photo as a video.

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When sharing, tap the “Live” button on the photo from the sharing menu to make sure the Live Photo is enabled.

You can also share Live Photos natively in apps like Tumblr and Facebook.

Edit and Export Live Photos as GIFs and Videos

It’s a shame that not that many social media apps support the Live Photos format. If you need to share it with a friend on Facebook Messenger, for example, you’ll need to convert it into a video or a GIF.

And the best way to do that is using Lively.

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Lively is a free app and a $1.99 in-app purchase will remove the Lively watermark from exported GIFs and videos.

Lively is great because it gives you tons of granular options for exporting Live Photos. You can control the quality and the size of the export. You can loop GIFs, reverse them and more.

Rotate Live Photos

In iOS 9, you cannot edit a photo without removing the “Live Photo” part of it (this has been solved in iOS 10).

But if you want to rotate a Live Photo you captured in the wrong orientation, you’ll need to look for third-party apps. The $0.99 app LiveRotate solves this very issue.

Stabilize Live Photos with Google Motion Stills

Motion Stills feels like what Live Photos should have been all along. This amazing app from Google takes your shaky, badly shot Live Photos and turns them into something good by stabilizing them and making the playback smooth.

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Using the app, you can either pick a series of Live Photos and create a long video by stitching them all together. Or pick one Live Photo and export it as a GIF or a video.

Automatically Create Movies

If you went on a trip and took a lot of Live Photos and videos, iOS 10 has a great feature that will automatically create a movie based on photos taken during a certain time or at a certain place.

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But if you’re not running iOS 10, check out the Quik app which does something similar and has loads of themes and background audio. The resulting videos are usually epic.

Remove The Live Part of Live Photos

Live Photos are awesome. I suggest leaving Live Photos featured turned on at all times just because you don’t know what you’re going to miss.

But the thing is that they take up a lot of space. Double that of a normal photo. Sometimes going up to as much as 5 MB. So if you have a 16 GB iPhone you might want to go through some photos and remove the Live Photos part wherever necessary.

To do that quickly, download Lean.

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Open the app and select the photos you want to remove the Live part from. Then tap the “Clean x photos” button. The app will ask you permission to delete photos. Grant it.

What Lean does is it creates a still copy and deletes the original photo. But as you know, deleted photos aren’t really deleted. To actually delete the original photos, go to the “Photos” app, select “Recently Deleted” album and tap “Delete”.

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I did some testing and I was able to get rid of around 12 MB by cleaning just 4 photos. Above, you’ll see the before and after screenshots. If I was cleaning 100 photos, I would have saved 300 MB. That’s quite a lot of storage space.

Your Favorite Live Photos Tips?

Do you always keep Live Photos feature turned on? What are your favorite tips and tricks for capturing and sharing Live Photos? Share with us in the comments below.

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