How to Use the Live Photo Editor on iPhone

Get the most from your exciting animated pictures

A group of young women taking a selfie on a bus.

Hollie Fernando/Getty Images

Apple’s Live Photo format is excellent for creating photos accompanied by a short video clip. They're fun to share with friends and family, but at first glance, there seems to be little else you can do with them. But did you know you can also use those same video clips to create interesting images, animations, and standalone videos? Here's how to edit Live Photos on iPhone.

This tutorial focuses on iPhone Live Photos and how to edit them on iOS and macOS. The guide requires iOS 11 or above, and macOS 12.x and above.

Understanding Apple’s Live Photos Effects

Starting with iOS 11, Apple introduced Effects, a feature that turns Live Photo videos into interesting new images and clips. These are Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure.

  • Loop: Removes the video sound and plays it in a constant loop.
  • Bounce: Removes the sound and plays the video forward and backward, over and over.
  • Long Exposure: Takes multiple frames from the video, placing them on top of each other to create a new photo. Any movement in the video is represented as a ghosting effect in the new image.

How to Turn a Live Photo into a Loop, Bounce, or Long Exposure Image on iPhone

  1. Open the iOS Photos app.

  2. Tap the Live Photo you want to apply an Effect to.

    Effects only work on Live Photos. To be sure you're working with a Live Photo, check the upper left of the screen once you've opened your image. You should see the word "live."

  3. Swipe up on the image to reveal the Effects panel to see a row of Effects, starting with the default Live.

  4. To reveal the other Effects, swipe right. You will see Loop, Bounce, and Long Exposure. Each of the Effects features a thumbnail providing you a preview of how your image will look once the corresponding Effect is applied.

  5. Tap the Effect you want to apply.

    Swipe up, Swipe right, Bounce effect on iOS
  6. The image will slide down with your Effect now applied.

Applying an Effect will replace the Live Photo in your Photos app. If you want to return to the default image or try a different Effect, repeat steps 3 to 6 and tap Live.

How to Turn a Live Photo into a Loop, Bounce, or Long Exposure Image on macOS

Using the Photos app, you can also edit Live Photos from your Mac. Here's how to do it.

  1. Open the macOS Photos app. You'll see an array of thumbnail of images.

  2. Double-click the Live Photo you want to work with.

    Photo to edit in macOS Photos
  3. Your image will open within the Photos app. Click Edit in the upper right corner.

    Edit button in macOS Photos
  4. An editing panel will appear on the right side of the image. Beneath the photo click the drop-down tab labeled "Live" to reveal your Effects options.

    Live option in macOS Photos
  5. Click Live, Loop, Bounce, or Long Exposure as your desired Effect, then click Done in the upper right corner to apply it.

    Live photo effect options in macOS Photos
  6. Your Effect is now applied and it will also be shown in the main gallery.

As with iOS, applying an Effect will replace the Live Photo in your Photos app. If you want, you can always return to the default image or apply a different Effect. To do this, just repeat steps 3 to 6 and click Live.

How to Turn a Live Photo Into a Video Using Google Photos on iPhone

Unfortunately, Apple's Photos app doesn't give you the option to directly separate out the photo and video portions of your Live Photo. However, you can do this easily enough using Google Photos.

  1. If you haven't already, download and install Google Photos for your iPhone. If necessary, log into the app and provide access to your Camera Roll.

  2. Tap the Live Photo you want to work with in Google Photos.

  3. Tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner.

  4. This will open a menu with several options. Tap Save as video.

    Photo to edit, More menu, Save as video option in Google Photos for iOS
  5. Google Photos will now start to export the video portion of your Live Photo and save it to your device.

  6. Once complete, you'll see a notification stating the video is saved to your Camera Roll. Tap the back arrow in the upper left of the display to go back to your gallery.

  7. In the gallery, you'll see your video is placed after the Live Photo.

    Saving, Video saved message, and video icon in Google Photos for iOS