How to Make a New Key Photo in Live Photos

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple's Live Photos, introduced in 2015, are photos that capture 1.5 seconds of video before and after you take a picture, with the aim of adding a little bit of life and movement to still images.


When you take a photo with an iPhone, not every shot comes out crisp and clear, but with Live Photos, if you get a blurry image, you can open it up and see if other frames you captured are clearer. If so, you can choose a new "key photo," aka the main photo that you see in your camera roll. Here's how:
  1. Open up the Photos app.
  2. Choose a Live Photo.
  3. Tap on "Edit" in the upper right hand corner of the display.
  4. Using the photo navigation bar at the bottom of the image, tap the thumbnails to browse through the frames captured for the Live Photo.
  5. If you find a better still, tap on "Make Key Photo" to select it.
  6. If you like your original still image best, tap "Cancel" to exit out of the editing interface.
Once you've selected a new frame and tapped on "Make Key Photo," the new still image selected from the photo will be the main image that you see in your camera roll and the image that's sent if you share the photo with someone else.

Selecting a key photo from a Live Photo is a feature that was introduced in iOS 11, so to edit your photos and choose a new main photo, you'll need an iOS device that's running iOS 11. You can also make these edits on a Mac running macOS High Sierra.

It's worth noting that choosing a new key photo from a Live Photo does change the resolution a bit and lowers the overall quality of the photo. On a standard iPhone X, for example, a regular shot is 4032 x 3024, but when changing the key photo, that drops to 3662 x 2744.

Article Link: How to Make a New Key Photo in Live Photos
 

nwcs

macrumors 68000
Sep 21, 2009
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Tennessee
It is a great feature but, unfortunately, you lose access to the larger (probably better quality) non-video clip still taken. I wish there was an option to pick which when you’re exporting/viewing/etc. The long exposure mode is also good but a bit choppy for waterfalls.
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
6,214
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Florida, USA
Just a warning; this may seem obvious but a lot of people won't realize it.

If you choose a new key photo in a live photo, the new photo will essentially be a video frame grab rather than an actual photo. The resolution is a bit lower and the photo won't be as clear. This is even worse on older devices that can't do 4K video. Therefore it's only worth using this feature if the original photo is complete garbage and a frame from the live photo's video is much better.

The best way to take multiple photos of a moving subject and pick the best shot is to use burst mode, as this takes a full quality photo for each shot.
 

BMcCoy

macrumors 68000
Jun 24, 2010
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Oh, do people actually use the Live Photo’s settings?
I switch it off on every device/every software update.
If I want a video, I’ll use the video function.
 

Kabeyun

macrumors 68030
Mar 27, 2004
2,771
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Eastern USA
Additional info on this:

1. Selecting a new key photo purges HDR data and can completely ruin a snapshot helped by the HDR setting. Haven’t found a fix, and would welcome hearing about one.

2. You can also do this in macOS/Photos but, as I found out recently, not under El Cap, which I’m still running. Need Sierra or better.
 
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nwcs

macrumors 68000
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Oh, do people actually use the Live Photo’s settings?
I switch it off on every device/every software update.
If I want a video, I’ll use the video function.
It’s actually really cool to use. It’s great for kids for obvious reasons but also great because when you do the Memories videos and such it’ll use the video part and still. I never thought I would like Live Photo but I end up liking it a lot. Of course I turn off the high compression options and use mp4 instead of their hevc/heif.
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
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On a standard iPhone X, for example, a regular shot is 4032 x 3024, but when changing the key photo, that drops to 3662 x 2744.
I had no idea the resolution of live photo videos was that high on the iPhone X. Surely this takes up a lot more space? I thought when it first came out that each frame was something weird like 1400px tall. I'd rather they increase the frame rate than increase the resolution for live photos. They still look too stuttery due to ~15fps.
 

Cosmosent

macrumors 65816
Apr 20, 2016
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RE: "Selecting a key photo from a Live Photo is a feature that was introduced in iOS 11, so to edit your photos and choose a new main photo, you'll need an iOS device that's running iOS 11."

If it works like it used to, then Apple's Live Photos camera feature takes a single High-Res photo when the User taps the Shutter button ... ALL the other so-called "Live Photos" photos are Low-Res photos, which used to be captured at 15 photos per second ... don't know what the Res of the Live Photos photos may currently be at.

The Low-Res Live Photo photos were ALL originally captured at 1440x1080 or 1080x1440 ... so, ONLY 1.6 Mpx each.

Selecting a Favorite / Key photo (of a Motion Photography photoset) is something that other Editors have had in-place for well over a year before Apple added it to the native Camera's Live Photos feature ... I think I know where they copied it from.

Apple's Live Photos is basically a little kids version of Motion Photography ... Instagram has a similar functionality "app" called Boomerang which is more of less targeted to the same market.
 

btrach144

macrumors demi-god
Aug 28, 2015
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It’s actually really cool to use. It’s great for kids for obvious reasons but also great because when you do the Memories videos and such it’ll use the video part and still. I never thought I would like Live Photo but I end up liking it a lot. Of course I turn off the high compression options and use mp4 instead of their hevc/heif.
If I didn't have kids then Live Photos might not be useful so I see the OPs point but Live Photos is terrific with how much my kids move around.
 

mr.steevo

macrumors 65816
Jul 21, 2004
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If I didn't have kids then Live Photos might not be useful so I see the OPs point but Live Photos is terrific with how much my kids move around.
Yep

And 1.6 mp is good enough for Insta-whatever for grandma and aunties.
 

nwcs

macrumors 68000
Sep 21, 2009
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Tennessee
have had in-place for well over a year before Apple added it to the native Camera's Live Photos feature ... I think I know where they copied it from.
It may have been around even longer than you think. Nikon V1, introduced in 2011, had the same feature. They called it a motion snapshot. It was a slow-mo-ish video but the concept was the same.
 

felixen

macrumors 6502a
Apr 13, 2009
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Recently I started noticing that when I change my “key photo”, the photo will become a little cropped / zoomed in. This is super annoying and it ruins a lot of photos (I actually often end up disabling Live Photo on a photo where I’ve changed the key photo even though I love the Live Photo clips). Must be a bug and I’m curious if anyone else has this issue.

Basically, let’s say I change the key photo on photo #2. Then I view photo #1 in full screen and slide over to photo #2 which will initiate the Live Photo clip. The clip plays zoomed out as it should be, but when it finishes on my new key photo, it will zoom in a bit. Super ugly. It gives the same effect as if you actually zoom in while taking your photo and you then play your Live Photo.
 
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