iOS 16’s Dog Extraction Mode Is Way More Useful Than You Might Think

Snag any subject from a photo and put it somewhere else

  • iOS 16 lets you cut out a subject from the background just by dragging it. 
  • You can make stickers, mood boards, and other neat stuff. 
  • It’s not at Photoshop level, but is surprisingly good at cutting around fur.
Someone using the image cutout feature on iOS 16 to remove a dog from a photo.

Do you mockup / Mockup Photos

One of iOS 16's coolest features, the 'dog-extraction' mode, aka the cutout tool, is pretty handy. Also, it is not only for dog pictures. 

If you're running iOS 16 on your iPhone, try this: Open up the Photos app, find a picture you like, something with a person in it, perhaps. Then tap on that person, hold a moment until the magic wavy ripple effect appears, then drag. You just extracted that person from the background! The effect is instant, powerful, and has a few great uses, both serious and fun. 

"The new dog extraction mode in iOS 16 is not just for dog lovers. It can be used to extract a person from a photo and make them the main focus of the image. This is perfect for regular users who are not knowledgeable in any photoshopping tools, or anyone who needs quick edits on their photos, be it for posting on social media platforms or even using for business or work-related purposes," Rajesh Namase, technology writer and co-founder of TechRT, told Lifewire via email.

Cut It Out

This new tool doesn't appear to have an official name. The popup menu item says, "Lift subject from background," some design sites are calling it the "cutout tool," and others, like this one, prefer "dog-extraction mode", after the example Apple used when demoing the feature.

Someone creating a Quick Note on iOS 16 with an image from the subject extraction feature.

Negativespace / Mockup Photos

But whatever you call it, it is totally rad. You literally just drag an object, person, or animal out of an image, to be used elsewhere. It does seem that this might be a little more useful on the iPad and the Mac when iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura ship later this year, because you'll more easily be able to drag from one window to another. But it's still great on the iPhone now, and if you prefer, you can choose to copy the extracted item to the clipboard, for pasting later. You can use the features on iPhones with an A12 chip or later, and in most built-in apps that show photos. 

I used to work as a graphic designer, and a lot of that job involved chopping something out of an image. I once designed an entire book about the history of cellphones, and pretty much every phone image had to be extracted manually by drawing around it. These days, Photoshop has its own image-separating tools, but Apple's is impressive for its power, and its speed. 

Then again, Photoshop still does a much better job. 

"I think the cutout is a great bit of fun, but not useful for professional designers," professional graphic designer Graham Bower told Lifewire via email. "It’s interesting, though—the way it handles fluffy fur is hard to match. It’s an excellent feature. Lots of fun, but not relevant to professional graphic designers at all."

Stickers and Moods

So what can you use this for? One of the most fun options so far is to make the images into stickers. There are already a few apps available that will grab the extracted image from the clipboard, and turn it into a sticker to be used in the Messages app, complete with a white or colored border, and a drop shadow. 

Screenshots of using the dog extraction in iOS 16.

Apple

"They do look great as stickers," says Bower. 

Another use might be for people who regularly use web images to build mood boards and look books. A fashion stylist, for example, can remove people from backgrounds for cleaner moods, or to quickly combine them into a single scene.

Or, if you're selling your stuff via online classified ads, you can remove the item from the background so people can only see the sofa and not the living room behind it. 

One tip for better cutouts is to use it on photos snapped with the iPhone's portrait mode. These include depth information that is usually used to blur the background, but also—in my testing—makes for way cleaner extractions. 

Really, for most of us, the quality is good enough. If you're a graphic designer, you already have more powerful tools for this job. But if you want to make a sticker of your doggy, or throw together a quick poster for an event, then this is quick and fun. Check it out.

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