How to Use Photo Cutout on an iPhone (iOS 16)

You can extract images from backgrounds and share them in other apps

What to Know

  • Open Photos > tap and hold the object until you see glowing outline > Copy > paste image into another app.
  • Image Cutout requires iOS 16 and up, running on an iPhone XS/XR or newer.
  • Photo Cutout is also available in Messages and Safari.

This article provides step-by-step instructions for how to use iOS 16's Photo Cutout feature to remove people and objects from their backgrounds. To use the feature, you must be running iOS 16 or up on an iPhone XS/XR or newer.

How to Use Image Cutout on iPhone

Cutting a person or object out of a background photo so you can use it in another context used to be a major challenge in photo editing apps like Photoshop. It's gotten easier in those tools over the years and, thanks to a feature introduced to the iPhone in iOS 16, it's now incredibly easy to do on your phone. It just takes a couple of taps.

Follow these steps to use Photo Cutout to remove a person or object from its background:

  1. In the Photos app, tap the photo so that it's the only photo shown on your screen.

  2. Tap and hold the person or object that you want to cut out of the photo.

    In our testing sometimes we needed to do this twice. If you feel haptic feedback, you can move to the next step. If you don't feel it on the first try, take your finger off the screen and try again.

  3. The person or object detected by the Photos app is surrounded by a glowing outline that indicates the boundaries of what will be cut out from the photo. A pop-up menu appears.

    Tap and hold on the subject of a photo to separate it from the background.
  4. With the object selected, you can either copy the object or share it with another app (for this option, skip to the next step).

    Tap Copy to copy the image to your iPhone clipboard. You can then go to another app and paste it using the same process as copying and pasting text.

  5. Tap Share to share the cut-out object directly to another app. Just tap the app from the sharing sheet that pops up and that object will be added to that app.

  6. Whether you copied or shared the cut-out object, it's now available for use—editing, sending via email or text, and more—with whatever options and features are available in the app you added it to.

    Steps to paste a cutout image into an email on an iPhone.

You can't change the border outlining the selection of the object. In our testing, the iPhone almost always drew the correct border around a person or object without missing important details or including extraneous objects. However, it did make a few mistakes and, as of now, there's no way to adjust what is included.

Photo Cutout Is Based on Visual Lookup

Photo Cutout is based on a technology Apple introduced with iOS 15 called Visual Lookup.

Visual Lookup allows the iPhone to detect objects shown in a photo so you can interact with them. Originally that meant things like detecting a phone number in a photo of a sign and then allowing you to call that number with one tap or making text in a photo copyable. That still works, of course.

Apple extended those smarts to the detection of a person or object for Photo Cutout. The concept is basically the same: the iPhone "looks" at a photo, "understands" what's in it, and then allows you to do things with those items—in this case, cut them out of a background and then paste them into other apps.

Photo Cutout may work slightly better with images that use Portrait Mode, since that already separates subject and background, but it worked well with all kinds of photos in our testing.

  • How do I hide photos in iOS?

    First, open the photo you want to hide in the Photos app. Select the More (three dots) menu in the upper-right corner, and then select Hide. Tap Hide Photo in the window that pops up to confirm.

  • Where are hidden photos in iOS?

    Hidden photos get their own folder in the Photos app. Select the Albums tab, and then scroll to the bottom to find the special sections (Hidden, Recently Deleted, etc.). You may need to use your passcode or Face ID to access this folder.

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