iPhone 6s/6s Plus: Turning Off Individual Live Photos

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Having fun playing around with Live Photos? I know I am. This new ability of the iPhone 6s/6s Plus is not a killer feature by any means, but it’s pretty cool. There’s one big giant honking caveat about it, though, and it’s not obvious—whenever you message a picture to someone else, having Live Photos on means you’re sharing the seconds before and after you took the image, too. Yep, by default, your iPhone will send the whole file, even to some devices that can’t create Live Photos themselves. Yikes! This’ll inevitably lead to me messaging someone a second or two of expletives after I trip over whatever thing I’m taking a picture of. 

At least if you’re paying attention, you can tell if you’re about to share a Live Photo. 

Unfortunately, I’m never paying attention—I’m just like that. So if you’re as terrified of what you could end up sending as I was after learning this, you can turn the feature off completely in the Camera app. Within the controls is a small circular icon, and tapping that will disable Live Photos.

Doing so will mean the future snaps you take will be still photos only; however, if you decide that you like this feature and want to leave it on by default, it turns out that you can remove the “footage” for an individual Live Photo before you share it in a message, too. To do so, select the image from your camera roll and press Edit. 

That now-familiar circular icon will appear on your photo-editing controls, and if you toggle that off and press Done, you can share just the still image.

It’s easy to turn the Live Photos functionality back on for your picture at any point, too—the edit is nondestructive. Just reverse the steps above, and your video-image thing will be back. 

I was pretty excited about Live Photos when I first heard about it, but I gotta say, the fact that they’re messaged that way by default seems like an oversight. I’d love a pop-up before the image goes out that asks me to decide which way to send it. Otherwise, I see definite wardrobe/politeness/language malfunctions in my future just from forgetting about it!

So what do you think? Will you guys keep Live Photos on all the time, even knowing this?

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Lee Dronick

This sounds like a non problem.

David Thorne Luckhardt

I don’t know of any way to permanently disable the new ‘Live Photo” option in iOS 9.0.x on the iPhone 6s, but am looking for ways to recover the space taken by small (2-4Mb) video files it auto-creates along with every still image taken in the Camera app.  It can be turned off by touching the Live Photo icon (it is on by default) but is very easy to accidentally re-enable, particularly for elderly users.

Apple’s Image Capture program shows the “Live Photo” video files as separate from the still image files. They can be deleted on the phone without importing using Image Capture, or imported with the “Delete after Importing” option selected in Image Capture, and then don’t show up as separate files in either Photos or Image Capture (both on the Mac).

Another annoying element of this “feature” is that the files can’t be deleted on the iOS device using the iOS Photos app.  It doesn’t show the Live Photo files via Select in Album view in either the Camera Roll (as images) or Videos (as video files), so they can’t be selected and deleted.

These video files can be edited and converted to still images in the Photos app, but I can confirm that editing images on the iPhone 6s taken with Live Photo enabled (I used the crop tool) does not delete the video files.


How do you disable it in the app? I downloaded a bunch of live photos and they are all videos. I just want the still images but I see no way of deleting these 2 second MOVs. Ideas?

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