How to edit live photos, convert live photos on Mac, iPhone

Make live photos loop and bounce, and save the video separately

The iPhone can take normal, static photos or it can take live photos. It is annoying when you take a live photo instead of a normal one. Here’s how to convert live photos and save the video.

Live photos is an interesting idea that was introduced on iPhones some time ago. When a live photo is taken, it is really just a short video clip and the photo is actually a frame from the clip. The idea is that the live photo enables you to capture live action as easily as taking a snapshot.

Are they actually useful though? I cannot recall an occasion where I liked a live photo. The movement in the photo is irritating and I prefer the image to be static. As a video, a live photo is far too short to be useful.

If I want a video I will shoot a video, so when I want a photo, I prefer it to be a standard one and not a mini video clip. When taking a photo on the iPhone, there is a Live video on/off button in the top right corner of the screen. However, it is easy to miss and accidentally take a live photo.

If you have live photos, you can do several things with them and one is to convert them to a static photo. You can also choose which frame of the video is used for the photo. The video clip can be saved separately, if you really want it. Maybe it could be incorporated into a video you are editing.

Let’s take a look at managing live photos on the Apple Mac. Afterwards (skip ahead if you don’t have a Mac), we will see how to do it on the iPhone.

Edit live photos on the Mac

If you use an Apple Mac, your iPhone photos will end up in the Mac Photos library and there is an automatically generated album that collects all live photos. Expand Albums in the sidebar and select Live Photos to see them all.

Viewing live photos in the Photos app on an Apple Mac: Screenshot
Convert live photos to a still in Photos on the Mac

A quick and easy way to convert a live photo to a still is to Ctrl+click it and select Turn Off Live Photo on the menu that is displayed. If you change your mind, the Undo option on the Edit menu will turn it back into a live photo.

Live photo indicator in the Photos app on the Apple Mac: Screenshot
Mouse over the Live button to see the animated photo

Click a photo thumbnail to see a larger version and there is a Live icon in the top left corner of the image. Move the mouse over it to see the live photo animation.

Convert live photos to loop or bounce

Open a live photo for viewing in the Photos app and then click the Edit button in the top right corner. This enables you to change how the live photo appears.

Convert live photos to bound, loop and more in the Photos app on the Apple Mac: Screenshot
Convert live photos to loop, bounce or long exposure

In the bottom left corner when editing a live photo, is a Live button. Click it and choose an alternative effect if you prefer. Convert the live photo to loop so that it starts again when it finishes. Convert the live photo to bounce, sometimes called boomerang so it goes back and forth. It is sometimes funny, but easy to get tired of.

Trim live photos video

In the center of the photo in the edit screen, at the bottom is the video clip that makes up the live photo.

Edit the video of a live photo in the Photos app on the Apple Mac: Screenshot
Edit the live photo video

Drag the left and right edges to trim the live photo video clip. Only the yellow selection will be used for the photo animation. A live photo has a key photo, which is the frame of the video that is used as the static image when it is not actually animating. Click in the video clip to select the frame to use as a static photo.

This is useful if you have taken a live photo of some action. You can click each frame to find the best image that captures the action at just the right moment and make it the key photo.

Save the video from a live photo

Suppose you want to save the video of a live photo. You might want to do this before converting the live photo to a static photo. This is easy when you know how.

Export a live photo to strip the video in Photos on the Apple Mac: Screenshot
Export a live photo to save the video

Select a live photo in the Photos app. Go to the File menu and select Export > Export Unmodified Original for 1 Photo. You could export several, but let’s look at one.

Live photos exported to save the video on the Apple Mac: Screenshot
Exported live photo showing the photo and video

Here, a live photo was exported to the desktop and it resulted in two files, not one. The first is the static photo, the HEIC file, and the second is the video, a mov file. You now have a QuickTime movie of the live photo, which you can do with as you wish. You could export multiple live images this way and you would end up with a bunch of movie files along with the photos.

Edit live photos on the iPhone

The Photos app on the iPhone has a different interface due to the screen dimensions, but the same features are all there and you can view live photos, convert them to still images and edit the live photos video clip.

On the iPhone, open the Photos app and press the Albums button in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Press Live Photos to see an album of thumbnail images containing all the live photos you have taken.

View live photos on the iPhone: Screenshot

Press a photo thumbnail to open it for viewing and there is a Live button in the top left corner. Press the little down arrow (V) to display a menu and you can convert live photos to loop or bounce (like a boomerang effect). It can also be shown as a long exposure image.

Press the Actions/Share button at the bottom of the screen to show a menu. Pull it up the screen to see all of the options and then press Save as Video to save the video component of this live photo. It’s useful to do before you convert live photos to still photos.

Live photos on the iPhone in the Photos app: Screenshot
Edit live photos on the iPhone

Press the Edit button in the top right corner to switch to edit mode for this live photo. Convert the live photo to a static photo by tapping Live at the top of the screen. The video clip is shown at the bottom of the screen. Drag the handles at either end to trim the start and endpoints of the video. Tap one of the video frames to make it the key photo, the static image that is shown.

Now you know how to convert live photos to loop and bounce, or make them static. You can also save the video separately.

Every time you take a photo with your iPhone, look in the top right corner to check whether it is a static or live photo. Don’t take the wrong one!


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