How to Convert a Live Photo to a Still Photo in iOS 9.3

With Apple’s recent update of iOS to version 9.3, they fixed one of my earlier complaints of the Photos app, which had to do with the complication of getting a still photo out of a Live Photo. Up to and including iOS 9.2, the task of converting a Live Photo into a still photo was doable but with a few points worth considering. However, now it’s as simple as can be. Here’s how you do it!

How to Convert a Live Photo to a Still Photo in iOS 9.3

With iOS 9.3, it’s easy to turn Live Photos into still photos. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Take your photo with the Live Photo function enabled. You can tell this is turned on when the icon for Live Photos (the circular one with concentric rings in the camera app) is yellow. If it’s white, it’s disabled.
  2. Check out your Live Photo in the Photos app. If you like the still frame of it that is displayed without activating the motion, then keep going because this is the still pic you’ll end up with.
  3. Tap on the Share button.
  4. Swipe over through the gray icons until you find the new Duplicate action. Tap it.
  5. You will be prompted to Duplicate, which gets you another Live Photo, or Duplicate as a Still Photo. Tap the second one.
  6. That’s all there is to it. Check out your duplicated photo to make sure it’s everything you’d hoped it would be!

From what I can tell, the process of converting a Live Photo to a still photo copies the time and date metadata, though it seems that location data is not available on the still copy.

Potentially of significant interest, if you are happy with the still photo that you obtained and you no longer wish to keep the Live Photo original, now you are free to delete it. Since the animated versions are larger files than the standard pics, this is a great way to reclaim some of your limited iCloud storage space.

Hopefully you can see that extracting the still frame from your Live Photos is now a super simple process. Comparatively, here’s how you’d do it before iOS 9.3, in iOS 9.2 or earlier.

How to Convert a Live Photo to a Still Photo in iOS 9.2 or Earlier

  1. Take your Live Photo.
  2. Check it out in the Photos app.
  3. You have a few options from here:
    • Tap to make the photo full screen, then press the Home button and power button at the same time to capture a screenshot. (Note that this will time stamp the still as the time of the screenshot, not as the original time of the Live Photo. Same story for location data.)
    • Tap the Edit button for the Live Photo to enter editing mode. From here, you can tap on the Live Photo indicator in the top left corner to disable the animation. Then tap to save the photo. Importantly, while this will give you the still image that you desire, the animation part of the original is still attached and stored in iCloud. If you later decide that you actually want your picture to move, you can undo these steps and reenable the animation. Point being, you are not reclaiming iCloud storage space simply by disabling the live component.
    • I’m sure there are third party apps that could extract the still frame from your original photo, but since I’ve never attempted this, I can’t really comment about it.

As you can see, the update to Photos in iOS 9.3 makes it easy to convert a Live Photo to a still photo!

How to View Live Photos from older iPhones

With Apple’s latest iPhones, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, one of the key new features is 3D Touch. This enables a bunch of new shortcuts and things for your phone to do. They’ve also paired this technology with the new Live Photos for viewing. Only the new phones are capable of taking Live Photos, though what many don’t recognize is that you don’t need the new phones to view them.

With an iPhone 6S, you simply enable the Live Photos feature from the camera screen. It turns yellow when it’s on. Consider that whatever image your camera is looking st, it is temporarily recording it all and saving a rolling buffer of what it sees. When you snap a photo, it saves the previous 1.5 seconds from its buffer and also adds the 1.5 seconds after you took the picture, giving you a 3 second window surrounding the instant of your shot.

To view the Live Photos, on a 6S or 6S Plus, you can find it in your Photos because it has the same Live Photos icon that you tapped to turn in the feature in the camera window. With your photo selected, simply apply force to the 3D Touch-enabled screen, and it will briefly blur and then start playing for you.

On an older iPhone or iPad, you will not have the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch display, so applying more pressure will not work! However, you can still play it back simply by touching and holding on the photo. The only catch is that your device just be updated to at least iOS 9.0 or greater.

Live Photos are one of the great new features of Apple’s new iPhones. What makes the feature even better is that you don’t need to have the latest hardware to participate in viewing then! Moms and dads and grandparents who are running older devices don’t have to miss out on the great Live Photos of the kids at all!