Apple Photos: What can you do if you crop out details and later want them back?

Can you restore the full image?

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A photo often doesn’t contain exactly what you want. Cropping a picture can be a solution. But what do you do if you crop out a critical detail and later want it back? One Macworld reader cropped herself out of a picture with her newborn baby! Momma, come back!

If you used an Apple photo organizing app to crop the photo, you're in luck. Fortunately, both the long-discontinued iPhoto (which no longer works starting with macOS 10.15 Catalina) and the modern Photos app both support non-destructive cropping. You can revert backwards simply to re-crop an image or reset it to its full bounds.

In both iPhoto and Photos (the steps are shockingly identical):

  1. Select an image you cropped.

  2. Click the Edit button.

  3. Click the Crop button.

  4. You should now see the cropped image and the full image around it. Drag the handles to change the cropping. Or click Reset to remove the crop altogether.

  5. Click Done.

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Recrop images within iPhoto.

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Recrop images within Photos.

There are a few provisos:

  • If you have cropped the image on your iPhone or iPad with iCloud Photos enabled, you have to go back to the original device to revert cropping. And depending on timing and syncing, it may be unavailable.

  • If you exported the modified image from iPhoto or Photos and deleted the original in your library, the exported copy only contains the cropped data and can’t be restored.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Nico.

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