How to Capture a Frame of an iPhone Live Photo

Question from Mary:

Sometimes when I take a photograph with my iPhone 7, the snapshot moves briefly when I view it. Why?
Sometimes this exceedingly brief “video” has an image I would like to save and print at the beginning and not at the end of the movement. Specifically dolphins leaping from the water. Is there anyway I can stop the motion where I need to?

The snapshot that moves is called a Live Photo and it has been a feature of iPhones since the 6s. Turning on the Live option in the camera will take 3 seconds of video along with the still shot. You know if your Live option is turned on if the bullseye at the top center of the camera is gold. If it’s white then Live is OFF. Just tap it and you will briefly see the words LIVE or LIVE OFF.


When I learned  about Live Photos, my first reaction was “Cool! A way to pick the best frame from 3 seconds of video for the perfect photo, without using Burst shot.” This is what Mary wants to do in order to get the shot of the dolphins in mid-air, not just the splash. I was dismayed to learn that there is no way built in to iPhone photos to pick a frame from the video portion of a Live photo. But I was determined to find one. Update: with iOS 11 Apple added a feature to Apple Photos to specify any frame as the key photo.

How to See the Video Portion of a Live Photo

Using the Photos app that comes with your iPhone, you will see a brief glimpse of the live photo as you view the photos in your camera roll. To see the entire 3 seconds of video, you must 3D press on photo. 3D Press means to press a little harder and a little longer than normal. The iPhone 6s and up has a pressure sensitive screen. The 3D press sends a different command. When you 3D press on a Live Photo you will see – and hear – the 3 seconds of video.

Using the Google Photos app, when you view a Live Photo on an iPhone, you will see a button that has two positions, play and pause. When it is in the play position, the video portion will play over and over. When in Pause, you see the still photo. Note: the ability to view live photos has not yet come to Android.


The Easy Way to Save One Frame

There is a free App that makes it incredibly easy to pick the frame you want as your photo. It’s called Lively, and it’s available in the Apple App store. With the free version your picture will have a logo in the lower right corner identifying the Lively app. For $2.99 you can remove that watermark.

Once installed, you open it up and give it permission to see your photos. It will show you just your Live Photos. Pick one and you will see 3 choices:


If you choose frame, you will now see the entire video sequence at the bottom of your screen divided into individual frames. Swipe thru them to find the perfect shot and then tap “Export Frame.” You now have lots of choice of social media or other communication apps, but if you just tap on Save, then that photo becomes part of your camera roll and you can view it in Google Photos, or the native Photos app.

The other 2 choices are pretty cool too. GIF automatically makes an automated GIF out of the video frames. You can trim them if you want to exclude the beginning or the end. Movie will separate the 3 seconds of video and make a standalong .mov file.

The Do-It-Yourself Way to Save One Frame

Using Google Photos, you can view the Live Photo, play it, then tap the 3-dot menu in the upper right and you’ll see an option to Save Video. This will separate the 3 seconds of video and make a standalone .mov file just like the Movie option in Lively. Then, when you view the video, you can pause it at a good spot and snap a screenshot to get your perfect photo.

Watch Episode 110 of What Does This Button Do?

Episode 110 of our Weekly Online Show will focus on camera features. It is a beginner’s lesson, so we will spend most of the time on basics, but we will show Live Photos on the iPhone and we’ll demonstrate the Lively app. At the 21 minute spot in Episode 110 you can see the demonstration of Live photos.

2 replies on “How to Capture a Frame of an iPhone Live Photo”

  1. Anna Stalent says:

    Great site.
    Great article!
    Very useful for tourists
    thanks for the info

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