7 Useful Updates for the iOS Photos App


At last, the Photos app gets the love it deserves!

Image Created by Jonathan Wylie

The camera is one of the main reasons why people buy an iPhone. However, the app you use to store your photos is just as important. Without it, you wouldn’t have a good way to find, share and edit the images you take with the iPhone’s cameras.

That’s why Apple made sure to give the Photos app the attention it deserved when it released iOS 16 for the iPhone. Here’s a look at the new features you can take advantage of in the Apple Photos app.

1. Duplicate Photo Detection

In iOS 16, you can now find and merge duplicate photos. Duplicates are more common than you might think, especially if you share photos back and forth with other family members. This tool is a great way to save space on your device and clean up your photo library.

To find duplicates in your library, open the Photos app and tap Albums. If you scroll past all your existing albums, you will see a Utilities section. It is here you can find the Duplicates tool.

Tap Duplicates to see a list of photos that have multiple versions. Next to each photo is a Merge button. If you tap Merge, the Photos app will keep one and discard the other(s).

If you have a lot of duplicates, you can tap Select at the top of the screen and then Select All. Next, tap Merge at the bottom of the screen to take care of multiple duplicates.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

2. Locked Albums

Speaking of albums, the Hidden and Recently Deleted albums are now locked by default. This is great if you happen to hand your phone to a friend or let someone borrow your phone to make a quick call. That person won’t be able to see any of the photos you have hidden or deleted.

To view the contents of these albums, you need to authenticate with FaceID, TouchID, or a passcode. It’s a great security update and might even open the door for users to lock other albums in a future update.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

3. Copy and Paste Edits

Another great addition in iOS 16 is the ability to copy and paste edits from one photo to another. This is a popular feature in desktop tools like Adobe Lightroom, and it’s now available for your iPhone. Here’s how it works.

If you take a bunch of photos at the same location and around the same time, the chances are high that the adjustments you make to one photo (e.g., brightness, shadows, and color temperature) will be needed for the other photos. In iOS 16, you can copy the edits from the first photo and apply them to the next photo or even a group of photos.

All you need to do is tap the three dots above a photo you have edited to select Copy Edits. Then, navigate to the photo you want to use the same adjustments on and tap the three dots to Paste Edits.

To apply the adjustments to a group of photos, select all the photos you want to apply the edits to, then tap the three-dot menu at the bottom of your screen and choose Paste Edits to apply it to all images at once.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie


4. Undo and Redo Edits

This next update should probably have been added a long time ago, but here we are. In iOS 16, you now have the option to undo or redo an adjustment that you make to a photo.

So, if you adjust the exposure and can’t remember what it was set to before, you can undo that effect by tapping the undo arrow in the top left of the screen. You can tap these arrows as often as you want to undo or redo an edit you make to an image.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

5. Sort People Alphabetically

This is another relatively minor update, but it’s still a useful one to know about. If you open the Photos app and tap Albums, you will see an album called People. Inside that album, you can tap the arrows in the top right corner to sort by name.

I don’t have a lot of people in that album, so I find it easy to find who I am looking for by looking at the thumbnails, but if you tag a lot of faces, then alphabetical order may well be something you want to turn on.

Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

6. New Photo Memories

The For You tab in the Photos app is where you find all those auto-generated video slideshows that Apple calls Memories. In iOS 16, the Memories are getting an update, and you will soon see some additional events like This Day in History.

In addition, if you are watching a video as part of a Memory, you can now tap the video to watch it again, and the music will continue to play in the background.

If you don’t look at Memories, you’re missing out. Apple does a great job at making video slideshows from your images. The addition of more Memories will only make that better.


7. iCloud Shared Photo Library

This is a big one. It’s the feature that iPhone users have been wanting for years: the ability to share their photo library with other family members. Often, there is just one photo library in a household. My wife curates ours, but that means it is all in her Apple account and on her computer. I can see the photos on her device if I want to, but not on my iPhone.

iCloud Shared Photo Library changes that. It lets you share an iCloud Photo Library with up to five other people. Once shared, everyone has equal permissions to add, edit, favorite, caption, and delete. You can share all your past photos or share specific photos based on start date or people.

Of note, this feature was not available when iOS 16 launched. Apple said it would be available later this year. Nobody knows when that will be, but it will likely go live when Apple releases iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura.

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