How to Use Your iPad as a Digital Picture Frame

So, you’re tired of asking Santa every year for one of those cool digital photo frames - and, he never delivers. Thing is, the jolly fella knows these things are a big hassle. You have to set them up, load them with photos, think about rotating out the photos periodically, there’s no music, the quality is poor, and it’s just one more piece of gear to clutter up the house!.

Well, Santa is here to tell you to use your iPad as a digital picture frame instead.

It’s true—when your iPad is locked, you can display one or more albums of photos as a full screen slideshow. This is a dedicated feature called Picture Frame, and it has been available since the very first iPad came out of Cupertino. It’s a great way to enjoy your photos while charging your device in an iPad Dock or just casually set up anywhere in your home or office.

Here are the details on how to set up Picture Frame. Remember: this is iPad only.

Setting Up Picture Frame

To configure your Picture Frame settings, go to Settings > Picture Frame, then set any of the following options:

1. You can select a transition effect to be played between photos. However, the duration of the transition can not be changed.

Setting transitions for your Picture Frame slideshow

2. Even though you can’t set the timing on transitions, you can set the duration of a displayed picture from two to twenty seconds. You also have the option to view the photos at random (“Shuffle”). Additionally, Picture Frame can zoom the image to focus on any faces in your image.

Unless you have only one friend, you generally have a group of people in your shots. Picture Frame can randomly select one of the faces as the center of focus by using face identification information in photos imported from iPhoto or Aperture. Zooming in on faces isn’t an option with the Origami transition.

Setting timing and other options for your Picture Frame slideshow

Setting timing and other options for your Picture Frame slideshow

3. Picture Frame can display all images in your Photos app, or just those in one or more Albums, including your Photo Stream if you’re on iCloud. Similarly, Faces or Events categories can be chosen. Select an option, then refine your selection in the list that appears. The Faces, Albums, and Events selections are the same as those in the Photos app. You might consider creating a dedicated “Picture Frame” album in iPhoto before syncing, or directly in the latest version of the Photos app on your iPad.

Selecting albums to display in Picture Frame

Selecting albums to display in Picture Frame


Starting, Pausing, and Stopping Picture Frame

The Picture Frame feature can only be turned on or off from the Lock Screen (the screen that comes up when you wake or turn on your iPad). If your device is already on, you get to the Lock Screen by putting it to sleep first, then wake the iPad. Tap the little “flower icon” button at the lower-right corner to engage Picture Frame.

The Lock Screen on the iPad is where you start-up Picture Frame

Once the Picture Frame slideshow is running, you can pause it by simply tapping anywhere on the screen.

When you’ve had enough, turn Picture Frame off by tapping again on the flower icon. You can also simply turn your iPad off put it to sleep.

Your Photos and Music

You can’t directly control music from Picture Frame, but you can first begin playing a selection from the Music app, then engage the Picture Frame as described above.


Would you like to restrict others from engaging your Picture Frame photos while your iPad is Passcode-Locked? There’s another setting that lets you enable or disable Picture Frame altogether when you have Passcode Lock enabled. Go to Settings > General, and then go into the Passcode Lock settings. There, you will see the Picture Frame master switch.

Picture Frame Settings screenshot

iPad Picture Frame Settings Screenshot

So, there you have it…Picture Frame. Be proud (or be obnoxious) showing off your photos to others, or perhaps it’s best to just zen out with some relaxing music playing to photos that inspire you…