How to Edit Photos with iOS Photos App

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Featured

Gone are the days of buying expensive editing programs like Photoshop or Lightroom. These days, if you want to make quick and easy edits to photos on your iPhone, just use the Photos app. The Photos app is the simplest, quickest and best way to make quick edits before sharing with friends, family or social media. Want to create your own little masterpiece? Just open the Photos app and get started. Read on to learn more about how to edit your photos with the Photos app and turn your photos into Instagram-ready perfection.

How to Enter Editing Mode

First and most importantly is to learn how to enter editing mode. To do that:

1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone, tap on “Camera Roll” or another gallery and then choose the photo you want to touch up.

2. When the Photo appears on your screen, look at the top-right corner of the screen and click on “Edit.”

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Edit Button

3. The editing tools will now appear. There are three primary options to choose from: adjusting light and color, applying filters or cropping and straightening.

Making Light Adjustments

The best place to start with iPhone edits is with changes to the color, brightness or sharpness. Start by looking for the far left button in the Edit screen that looks like a dial with dots all around it. When you make edits here, they will affect the amount of light in your photo. You will be able to increase overall exposure or add and remove shadows.

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Light Adjustments

There are a number of options in this space, so let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Auto: the Auto button, which is the first option that appears, will attempt to use artificial intelligence to make adjustments to lighting, shadows, brightness, etc.
  • Exposure: edits to the exposure will determine how much light is in the scene. As is the case with most options here, you can add or reduce the amount of light. Drag the slider to the right to brighten your image or drag left to darken it.
  • Brilliance: if you want to bring out more detail with a richer image after edits, this is the place to start. Dragging the slider to the right will brighten shadows. Dragging to the left will make the shadows darker.
  • Highlights: here you can adjust the brightness of only the bright areas that currently exist in a photo. Move the slider to the left to make highlights darker or to the right to make them brighter.
  • Shadow: shadows are best described as the darkest parts of any image. Slide your finger to the right and shadows will become brighter or to the left and watch them become darker.

Making Color Adjustments

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Contrast

Allowing for color adjustments will allow you to change the look of your photos and help make them “pop.”

  • Contrast: working with the contrast tool will allow tweaking of the dark and bright tones in any photo. Use the slider to make precise adjustments. Go left to reduce contrast or right to increase and make shadows darker.
  • Brightness: unsurprisingly, brightness will either brighten or darken your photo. Slightly different from adjusting exposure, the brightness slider will lighten or darken the photo without adjusting exposure.
  • Black Point: this is the best place to highlight the darkest tones of any photo. By targeting the darkest parts of your photo, you can create an image that is more dynamic.
  • Saturation: Want to make colors more vibrant? Less vibrant? Saturation is the place to do it. Sliding to the right will make colors pop out more. Alternatively, moving to the left will make colors more muted.
  • Vibrance: this is similar to the saturation tool but with more subtle changes. It’s a good way to adjust colors in an image without any impact to skin tones.
  • Warmth: using this edit function will help make colors in your photo warmer or cooler. It’s a good way to correct any white balance issues that may exist on the original photo. Slide to the right to warm the image up and to the left to “cool it down.”
  • Tint: should you ever want to add a green or magenta color tint to a photo, this is the place to do it. Slide left to add a green tint or right for magenta.

Make Detail Changes

Making any detail changes can really help an image look better after you tweak the settings. These changes come with a caveat, though, as the amount of detail in any iPhone image is limited by the sensor size on the iPhone.

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Sharpness
  • Sharpness: Make changes here, and your photo can become sharper (think crisper) with more definition. If you attempt to over-sharpen (to the right), you can significantly reduce photo quality.
  • Definition: use this option to make changes to a photo that will improve the overall clarity of any detail.
  • Noise Reduction: did you end up with a grainy image at night? This is the best function to tweak so you can end up with a usable photo.
  • Vignette: the vignette tool will attempt to brighten or darken any edges around a photo. Should you ever want someone looking at a photo to focus on the center of the image, start with adjusting the vignette.

Making Edits with Filters

While making edits to light, color and contrast all require manual work, editing with filters is better for beginners. Tap the middle button on the “Edit” screen (looks like three overlapping circles), and you can swipe your finger through them. As you move your finger, each filter applies a different look by adjusting some of the different settings detailed above. Only one filter can be applied at a time, but you can change the filter whenever you would like.

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Filters

Apple also added the option to shoot with filters enabled. Launch the camera app and look for the same Filter button in the top right of the screen. It’s the same three circles overlapping. You can now take pictures with any filter of your choice activated. Even after your photos are shot with a filter, you can still go back in and add another filter later on. This is a really great way for beginners to understand how filters will turn out.

Crop and Straighten

The farthest-right option on the edit screen for iPhone photos is the button that allows you to crop or straighten to adjust your perspective.

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Crop Square

When you click on this menu, you will be provided with a few options.

  • The first option is to straighten your image. Move your slider to either the right or left until the image looks properly straightened out.
  • The second and third options are for perspective correction. The second one is to adjust the perspective horizontally and the third is to adjust the perspective vertically.
Edit Iphone Photos Camera Flip Square

Another set of options also appears when you are in the crop screen. Look at the top left of the screen and you will see options for flip and rotate. Rotating does exactly what it sounds like and pivots the photo 90 degrees with each tap of the button. The “flip” button will flip your image horizontally.

Edit Iphone Photos Camera Adjust Size

Also on the top of the screen is another button for adjusting the format of the photo. Inside this menu you can take your original photo and adjust to 16:9 sizing, 10:8, square, 4:3, 3:2, etc. There are about ten size options in all.

Last but not least is the ability to crop your photo and remove any unwanted background distractions. Cropping a photo is incredibly easy and is done by adjusting any of the four corners of a photo. As soon as you enter the crop screen, four white corners will appear at the edges of your photo. Tap and hold those and move them in/out or left/right until you have found the perfect crop. A white border will indicate where the new edges of the photo will be to help you frame it exactly as you want. Hit “Done” when you are finished with the edits, and all of your changes will be saved.

While there are many third-party apps to take and edit photos on an iPhone, the default Photos app is good enough for most of us. For anyone who wants to just jump in and get started, the default editing features will suit you.

David Joz
David Joz

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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