Customize Apple Photos memories and apply filters for free

The Photos app on the iPhone creates memories, slide shows with music, and they are often quite interesting. However, you can make them even better by applying exciting filters and effects.

You may be familiar with applying filters and effects to photos and almost every photo app seems to have them. Instagram has had them for years for example, and they can make dull photos much more exciting.

With the latest version of the Photos app on the iPhone, you can apply filters to memories. Apple calls them Memory Looks, but they have familiar names like Cool Bright, Contrast, B&W Film, Noir Film, Warm Bright, Cool Fade and so on. The effects are subtle, apart from the black and white ones, but they do make a difference.

If the weather was a bit dull for a memory, applying a Warm Bright or Warm Contrast could make the memory more visually interesting. The filters do not permanently change the look of a memory and you can apply one filter, watch a memory, then apply a completely different filter. You can even switch from color to black and white and back again.

Make sure you have at least iOS 15.2 on your iPhone in order to use Memory Looks.

Memories are created automatically by the Photos app and you do not need to create them. In fact, there is no way to create them and you must wait and see what the app produces. It creates a lot of them and they are usually very good.

To see memories on the iPhone, open the Photos app and press the For You button at the bottom of the screen. A small number of memories are displayed in a horizontal carousel and you can swipe left and right over them to see them. Press See All to see the full list of memories and tap a memory to play it.

You can work in landscape mode (wide) or portrait mode (tall) as you prefer. The screenshots fit better on the web page in landscape, so that’s what I will use.

1 View Memories in Photos

Photos memories on the iPhone
Tap a memory to access the controls

Tap a memory on the For You tab in the Apple Photos app on the iPhone. If it automatically starts playing straight away, tap anywhere on the screen to show various controls at the bottom of the screen. To see all the photos in the memory, press the grid of dots icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.

2 See photos in a memory

View all the photos in a Memories slide show on the iPhone
View all the memory photos

Swipe up and down to browse the photos included in the memory. People often ask, how do you change the order of photos in memories? You can’t. The reason is that a memory is a chronological display of photos and videos and they follow the timeline.

For example, you may have a photo of you walking to the beach, then relaxing on the beach. It would not make sense to reverse them and show you relaxing on the beach and then walking to it. Photos are in date and time order so that they tell a story.

3 Manage photos in memories

Photos in a memory in the iPhone Photos app
Edit a memory in the iOS Photos app

Press the three dots button to display a menu. Press Manage Photos to add or remove photos in a memory. Your Photos feed is shown and the photos included in the memory are ticked or selected. You can deselect photos to remove them and tap other photos to select them and include them. You cannot change the order, which is set to chronological.

4 Hide photos in memories

Photo options in Apple Photos memories
Long press a photo for options

Press and hold on any of the photo thumbnails and a menu is displayed. There is an option to hide it from the memory if you do not want to see it, although you could use the menu in the previous step and use Select to select and deselect images.

Make Key Photo makes the selected photo the cover photo for the memory. Sometimes Photos does not choose the best cover photo, so you can select your own.

5 Change the music, not really!

Memories in the Photos app on the iPhone
Change the music and more – it’s the ‘more’ that we’re interested in

Return to the home screen of the memory and tap the screen if you do not see the controls at the bottom. There is a music icon in the bottom right corner, press it. It does allow you to change the music, but it also does something else that is useful too.

6 Change the Look

Customize memories in the iPhone Photos app
This weird button enables you to change the ‘Look’ of the memory

Ignore the music icon. What we want to do is to change the look of the memory. Press the three circles icon in the bottom right corner. (I have changed this before and the current look is shown in the bottom left corner.)

7 Select a filter

Select a new look for a memory in the Photos app on the iPhone
Select new Memory Looks

A collection of thumbnail images appears and each is named according to the effect on the video. Press a thumbnail to give the memory a new look. These are like the filters that are often available in photo editing apps and you can make the video B&W Film, Noir Film, Fade, Warm Bright, Cool Contrast and so on.

With the exception of the two black and white ones, they all look the same in the screenshot. They are better in real life on the bright and colorful iPhone screen. The differences are subtle rather than strong, but they do make a difference, especially opposites like Warm Bright and Cool Contrast. The strength of the effect also depends on the photos, so try them and see.

You can apply a filter, return here and try a different one as many times as you like. Applying a filter does not make a permanent change to the photos, just to the memory.

8 View the new memory

A new memory look applied in the Photos app on the iPhone
A new look for the memory

This is the same memory, but with a new look and one of the black and white filters was applied to it. You can have fun with memories by changing the look and applying a filter. There are 12 filters right now, but more will probably be added in future iOS updates. Check after the next update and see.

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