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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

The Photos app is one of the most important apps on the iPhone and iPad, housing all of the pictures that you've taken and offering up editing tools to make those images even better.

Over the course of the last few years, Apple has been steadily improving the Photos app with machine learning and other technologies to present your pictures in new and unique ways so you can do more than just view your photos - you can relive your memories. iOS 13 is no exception and has a slew of improvements that make the Photos app more useful than ever.

Updated Photos Tab Organization

The main Photos tab in the Photos app has been overhauled in iOS 13, with a new design that's meant to put your best photos front and center. In addition to the iOS 12-style option to view all of your photos, there are new options to view them by day, month, and year.

Each of the time-based viewing options cuts out clutter, like screenshots, photos of receipts, and duplicate images, displaying all of your best memories without the cruft. Photos are displayed in a tiled view, with your best images displayed as large squares surrounded by smaller related photos.


The Days view in the Photos app shows you the photos that you've taken organized by each day, while the Months view presents photos categorized into events so you can see the best parts of the month at a glance.


In the Years view, you can see subsections for each year. In the current year, it will flip through each month automatically so you can get an overview of each month, but Apple did something unique for past years. When you tap into an older year, like 2018 or 2017, you'll see photos taken around the same time of year.


So, for example, if it's June and you tap the 2017 tab in June, you'll see photos that were taken in June 2017. Tapping into a specific year in this view swaps over to the Month view, where you can further tap into a target month, which then swaps to the Day view. You can also swipe a finger over the photos in the Years view to see a glimpse of key images from each month.

In all of the sections, Apple highlights titles like location, concert performances, holidays, and more, so you know where your photos were taken.

The new Photos tab is separate from the "For You" section introduced in iOS 12. For You also shows you curated photos, but the Photos tab organizes them around specific dates while For You focuses on aggregating content from multiple dates like beach days, trips, specific people, pets, and more.


Both the new Photos tab and the For You view are great for surfacing your best memories, making the Photos app a great tool just for browsing through your photo library.[*]How to Use the New Photos Tab in iOS 13[*]How to Add Several Photos to an Album in the Photos App in iOS 13
Autoplay Live Photos and Videos

In the new Photos tab, Live Photos and videos will autoplay silently so you can see a glimpse of action in the Day view, which brings the Photos tab to life and makes looking through your images a more dynamic, fun experience.

Extended Live Photos

When you have two or more Live Photos taken within 1.5 seconds of one another, there's a new Live Photos option that will play both at once as a short little video rather than just a quick animation in the Day view of the Photos tab.

Birthday Highlights

For your contacts you have photos of in the People album, if you have their birthdays assigned to them in the Contacts app, Apple will show you photos of the person in the "For You" section of the Photos app.

Screen Recordings Album

In iOS 13, if you capture a screen recording, it will be saved to a new Screen Recordings album automatically, much like screenshots go in the Screenshots album.

Overhauled Editing Interface

Apple in iOS 13 updated the editing interface in Photos, which you can get to whenever you tap on the "Edit" button on one of your pictures.

Rather than hiding editing tools down at the bottom of the image in a series of small icons, iOS 13 puts them front and center in a new slider that lets you scroll through each adjustment option. It kicks off with the standard Auto adjust, but if you swipe to the left on the editing tools, you can choose the specific adjustment that you need.


You can tap each edit you apply to see what the photo looks like before and after, so it's clear what each of the adjustments is doing. This new interface more closely mirrors third-party photo editing apps and puts more tools right at iPhone users' fingertips, making photo editing easier for everyone.

The editing tab in the Photos app has been updated to account for the new editing interface. When you open up edits, the adjustment tools are front and center, but if you tap the concentric circles icon on the left you can get to Live Photos adjustments where you can choose a new Key Photo.

On the right of the adjustment tool, there are filter options, and next to that, options for cropping and changing orientation.

Intensity Slider

For each editing tool, there's a slider that lets you tweak the intensity of the adjustment, which allows for more controlled edits than before. So, for example, you can select the "Exposure" adjustment tool to brighten or darken a photo and then use the slider to quickly get the desired effect. Intensity has specific numbers, so it's easy to tell how much of an effect has been applied at a glance.


New Editing Tools

In addition to overhauling the editing interface in Photos, Apple also added new tools for things like adjusting vibrance, white balance, sharpness, and more. Below, there's a list of all of the editing tools available in Photos in iOS 13:

[*]Black Point
[*]Noise Reduction

Apple has also improved the auto cropping and auto straightening features designed to make your photos look better with just a tap. When editing, you can use pinch to zoom to see the close-up details of a photo to get a better look at just what edits are doing to a particular area in an image.[*]How to Use the Editing Tools in Photos
[*]How to Crop, Rotate, and Straighten Your Photos in iOS 13Filter Intensity Adjustments

Though there are new editing tools available, the filters that Apple has long provided are there too. Filters in iOS 13 are more functional because the intensity of the filter can be adjusted using a new slider tool.


[*]How to Adjust a Filter Applied to Your Images in Photos
High-Key Mono Lighting Effect

iOS 13 adds a new effect to Portrait Lighting, High-Key Mono. High-Key Mono is a black and white effect that's similar to Stage Light Mono, but designed to add a white background rather than a black one.


High-Key Mono Lighting is limited to the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR.[*]How to Use Lighting Mode Photo Effects in iOS 13, Including the New High-Key MonoPortrait Lighting Adjustment Tools

The Portrait Lighting effects added to Portrait Mode photos can be adjusted with a new slider option in iOS 13, which allows you to further tweak the added lighting. It's designed to allow you to adjust the intensity of the lighting, which can drastically change the look of a portrait image.


Portrait Lighting adjustment tools are limited to the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR.[*]How to Use the Portrait Mode Lighting Adjustment Tools on Your iPhoneVideo Editing

There have been photo editing tools available in the Photos app for quite some time, but in iOS 13, many of the same tools are available for editing video for the first time.

Apple offers editing tools to adjust parameters like exposure, contrast, saturation, brightness, and more, plus there are built-in filters that you can apply. You can also use the same Auto adjust feature in videos that's long been available for photos to get a quick improvement.


Video editing tools, like photo editing tools, feature sliders to control the intensity of your adjustments so you can make dramatic or subtle changes to the lighting, brightness, and other elements and there continue to be available tools for adjusting video length.

There are also tools for straightening a video, adjusting the vertical alignment, adjusting the horizontal alignment, flipping the video, changing the orientation of the video, and cropping it.

None of these video editing tools were available in iOS 12, and these kinds of video edits have in the past required iMovie or another video editing app, but now video editing is as simple and straightforward as photo editing.

The Photos app isn't going to be suitable for complicated video edits where footage needs to be added or removed, but for simple tweaks, it's a useful tool that's going to be easy for even novice videographers to use.
[*]How to Edit a Video on iPhone and iPad
[*]How to Crop, Rotate, and Straighten Videos in iOS 13
[*]How to Apply a Filter to a Video in iOS 13

Guide Feedback

Have questions about Photos, know of an iOS 13 Photos feature we left out, or want to offer feedback on this guide? Send us an email here.

Article Link: Photos: Complete Guide to iOS 13
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macrumors 68000
Jun 17, 2009
Lincolnshire, England
One of my favorite and much needed set of updates! One annoyance for me though, when you go to crop a photo I would like the default aspect ratio to be on by default. It feels like a lot of taps to select the original ratio. Also wish it was 'easier' to rotate photos, like just drag with your fingers instead of having to tap 'rotate'.

Edit: It would also be good to be able to reorder the edit tools, I use brilliance, saturation and vignette most.


macrumors 6502
Dec 15, 2010
Nice updates, but I’m using Google Photos until Apple offers more free storage.

Me: Hey Apple can I have some more storage since I buy your premium phones that take great pics?

Apple: We made a $1,000 monitor stand for you.

Me: ...

now i see it

macrumors G4
Jan 2, 2002
all people really wanted was to be able to tag photos and name them so that they'd be searchable like on every computer in existence. But noooooooo Apple has to try to reinvent the wheel with a square block using "machine learning" to try to organize them based on some algorithm into "Memories" and "Moments".
When will this madness with the photos app end?
I fear not ever
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macrumors 68000
Jun 17, 2009
Lincolnshire, England
Nice updates, but I’m using Google Photos until Apple offers more free storage.

Me: Hey Apple can I have some more storage since I buy your premium phones that take great pics?

Apple: We made a $1,000 monitor stand for you.

Me: ...

If Google Photos could be set as default and have a standalone desktop app with full offline support, then maybe. :)


macrumors 6502
Dec 15, 2010
If Google Photos could be set as default and have a standalone desktop app with full offline support, then maybe. :)

I do miss the desktop app sometimes. Overall the free unlimited storage is great. If I were editing photos and using them a lot on different media, then it wouldn’t work.


macrumors newbie
Jul 30, 2010
What I would love to know is if there is any native RAW support like the desktop Photos has? (even though it's from a UX perspective awful to get to)


Oct 10, 2011
I'm really looking forward to the new Photos app. This is a big step forward.

Especially the new edit tools. Hoping local adjustments (brush/gradient/etc based) will come out in the next version.
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macrumors 6502a
Dec 8, 2012
I am dissappointed iphone X doesnt get Portrait lighting adjustment editing options... or the high key mono light portrait mode... there is absolutely no reason for it to be missing from the X other than ugly apple dealings....


macrumors 68040
Apr 18, 2018
Nice updates, but I’m using Google Photos until Apple offers more free storage.

Me: Hey Apple can I have some more storage since I buy your premium phones that take great pics?

Apple: We made a $1,000 monitor stand for you.

Me: ...

you do know you can use google to store your photos, right?


macrumors 68020
Nov 3, 2004
So, if you might find the dated views useful, you really can't, because the app tries to decide what it's going to show you.

Continue to pass, thank you.

I really do wish Apple would just say "here's the camera roll, and if you want any of these bizarre things we're putting in the Photos app, you can have it read the roll like every other app does."

Then you could remove the Photos app, and not have any of the memories/moments/people/etc machine learning idiocy going on. After all, in what universe is the *phone* being authoritative (since edits are metadata, and images aren't actually modified) a good idea?


macrumors 65816
Nov 18, 2008
So they are basically copying Google Photos, but not all of the features and charging for something (photo storage) that Google provides for free. Seriously this looked like a minor update to Google Photos, but then there are still some missing feature.
you do know you can use google to store your photos, right?
But then it doesn't work with the Photos app, which is definitely not as good as Google Photos anyway.


macrumors 6502
Jun 5, 2013
Honestly I wish I could just have a simple app that has my pictures like a folder with none of that “memories” or machine learning crap.

I am afraid to show a picture to someone because a simple swipe up can bring up irrelevant and seemingly random pictures suggested by Apple.


macrumors member
Jan 23, 2016
How about just getting faces right? Lightroom can do it so how hard can it be?
And use machine learning to understand that someone born in 2010 does not show up in foto's of 2002. Forget the stupid memories or implement a delete button at the least.


macrumors 68000
Apr 24, 2009
I like all the new features so far, but I am sorely, SORELY missing the camera roll. I sync about 13,000 photos from my Mac, and now all of the pictures I've saved from Safari or taken on my phone are now blended in with the Mac ones. Traditionally I'd go through and cull those images before syncing them to my Mac, delete useless memes and quick snapshots, but now that they're mixed in, this is nearly impossible!

I've left Feedback for Apple, but they've never read or closed any of my previous feedback even for major bugs that still exist...


macrumors 65816
Oct 8, 2016
I am using the Beta, the app looks gorgeous, it works well and smoothly.

Yes, there are some missing points, they should make the edit tools easier to tap and organize... but can’t complain much, I did not expect anything from them and they came up with something good enough.

I am more interested in the Camera app, I wish I could make changes without having to go to the settings app, I want more control features, more edit options.


macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
Western US
Can you still not easily cut settings and apply them to multiple photos? If not it’s still a huge problem. I use Photos to store my phone photos because it’s convenient, but Lightroom CC is far superior if you need to edit. That especially goes for RAW because Apple’s RAW engine is terrible and the editing tools (even with the new additions) are limiting.

Whenever I go back into Lightroom CC, it’s like a breath of fresh air because I can actually get the result I want without the image turning to crap.

I’m glad Photos exists because it’s a lot better than nothing but it’s got a long way to go to be competitive with other editing apps.
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