Live Photos are a cool but inessential feature of the iOS photography experience that preserve the moments before and after you take a photo, including the sound. They’re great for bringing a particular photo “to life,” and they’re especially excellent for making your own GIFs from photos—but they also take up a lot of storage space. The files are usually twice as big as those for a regular photo. That can be a big problem for your photo storage, considering that Apple keeps Live Photos on by default.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to turn the feature off, and you can easily (and temporarily) switch it back on if you want to take a specific shot as a Live Photo. First, I’ll show you how to keep your Camera app from automatically taking Live Photos, then I’ll show you how make Live Photos act like regular photos when you share them with other iOS users.
How to disable Live Photos in the Camera app
Launch the Camera app.
In the photo interface, press the yellow Live Photo icon to turn it off. (This is also how you switch it off temporarily, but normally it will turn on again once you relaunch the app.)
Leave the Camera app and head back to your home screen. (For now, do not open the Camera app again.)
Open the Settings app.
Scroll down to Camera. Press it.
In the menu that pops up, press Preserve Settings.
You’ll see three options. Toggle Live Photo so it switches to green.
That’s all! The next time you open your Camera app, the Live Photo icon should already be turned off. You can reactivate Live Photos by pressing the icon so it changes back to yellow, but with this setting active, it should stay off if you decide to turn it off again.
How to disable Live Photo features in a photo you’ve already taken
This is helpful for sharing older Live Photos you took before you were enlightened by the information above. You can disable the potentially embarrassing sound, or you can simply disable every Live Photo bell and whistle before you send it. Once you’ve done that, it’ll look like a regular photo when you send it. Here’s how to do it.
Open the photo you want to edit, either through the Photos app or the Camera app.
Press Edit in the upper right-hand corner.
To turn off the sound but preserve the Live Photo animation, press the yellow speaker icon in the upper left. The icon should turn white and show a white slash cutting through it.
To turn off Live Photo features altogether, press the yellow LIVE icon at the top. Now the photo will act like a regular photo whenever you send it.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t delete the Live Photo information, so these photos will continue to take up a ton of room on your phone. On the other hand, it means it’s relatively easy to reactivate animations on a Live Photo at a later date: Just go through the same steps above and press LIVE again.
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Leif is a San Francisco-based tech journalist. He's a big fan of fantasy RPGs, and you can find his previous work on IGN, Rolling Stone, VICE, PC Gamer, Playboy, Mac|Life, TechRadar, and numerous other publications.