The iPhone’s ability to take outstanding photos has continued to improve since the first ever handset in 2007. The later devices have both impressive cameras and detailed editing tools, so users can take professional-standard photographs.

Everyday iPhone users might not be familiar with complex or even standard camera editing, therefore missing out on a fantastic feature that comes with their phone. Capturing the perfect shot is a useful skill, and our step-by-step guide will show you how to edit photos on an iPhone and unlock its photo-editing potential.

If you’re looking for an iPhone with more enhanced camera capabilities, or to switch from another brand, check out our extensive range of iPhone options.

Finding the Edit menu

When you are ready to start fine-tuning your iPhone photos, you’ll need to open the Edit menu to access the various tools. It’s easy to find, and once you know how to get there, everything is in one place:

  1. Open your Photos folder and select the image you want to edit

  2. Once you have the image, tap on ‘edit’; you will be taken straight to the Edit menu

  3. Now you’ll be able to see features such as Exposure, Brightness and Saturation. If they don’t make sense just yet, don’t worry: we have you covered

Edit images within photo folder

Ways you can edit photos on your iPhone

1 – Opt for preset filters

The iPhone filters panel is the place to be if you want to make an instant change to your image, rather than play around with individual features. With multiple preset filters from Apple to choose, you can level up the look of your photo in seconds, from a sleek black and white image to a warm, sepia toned photo effect.

2– Crop and re-size

You might want a square image to fit perfectly on Instagram, or there is something distracting in the corner of your image that you want to remove. It’s quick and easy to re-size an image in the iPhone Edit menu and get your photos just how you want them.

In the re-size panel you can choose from pre-selected sizes and ratios such as Square and Wallpaper; useful if you want your image to fit an exact size. Otherwise, you can also drag to corners of the image while in Re-size Mode to crop it.

Crop and re-size image

3 – Save time with Auto Mode

For another quick photo-edit method on your iPhone, go to the Adjust panel in the Edit menu. The first option here is Auto Mode, an editing feature on iPhones that will save time on a lengthy editing process; it’s as simple as dragging the slider up and down to change the intensity of the auto-editing. Once you’re happy with the look, tap ‘Save’ and it’s ready to go.

4 - Experiment with exposure

To practise your editing skills and take a more detailed approach, there are various toggles to play with. The first is exposure, which adjusts the brightness of your image and is a cornerstone to all photo editing.

Move the slider left to reduce the exposure, and move it right to increase it and brighten the image. If you already have bright areas in your photo, be careful not to increase the exposure too much and risk losing all of the detail.

5 – Fine tune the brilliance

For more vivid images, brilliance will be your best friend. Increasing the brilliance will add contrast to your photo while brightening the darker areas. Adjusting brilliance is a simple solution to get richer and more vibrant photographs.

Adjust image brilliance level

6 – Play with highlights and shadows

Getting the balance of an image just right will require the Highlights and Shadows tools. With these, you can reduce an overpowering bright patch by dragging the highlights bar to the right, or bring even more light to an existing bright patch by dragging the bar to the left.

On the other end of the scale is the Shadows tool; key to brightening or dimming darker areas of a photo. Pull the slider to the left to raise the brightness of the shadow and reveal hidden details within your image, or pull the slider right to hide unwanted detail.

7 – Create contrast

Working with the Contrast feature helps determine how dramatic your photos turn out. An image with strong contrast will show a starker difference between the different tones in the photo, whereas a low contrast will soften the colours, highlights and shadows. Taking the contrast slider to the left will raise it, and to the right will lower it.

Contrast plays a vital role in HDR (high dynamic range), which makes darker and brighter areas of an image look far more lifelike. Finely balanced contrast ensures that shadows look inky black and bright environments are visible without sacrificing detail.

8 – Enhance the brightness

We previously mentioned that tweaking exposure will increase the brightness of an entire image, mimicking how long the camera’s sensor would have been exposed to light. Similarly, you can use the Brightness tool to adjust the luminosity of the photo when the toggle is dragged to the left. However, this method doesn’t increase the brightest highlights in the image, and has a lower risk of ending up with a completely white image.

Enhance brightness by adjusting the levels

9 – Adjust the black point

For the opposite effect, use the Black Point feature to add depth to your photos. Move the slider to the left to deepen the dark areas of the image and increase the black point, or move the slider to the right to brighten those existing dark areas.

10 – Understand saturation and vibrancy

Saturation and vibrancy are important features for achieving bright and colourful photos. To get more intense colours within an image, increase the saturation by pulling the slider to the left. To remove colour altogether and get an image that is close to black and white, pull the slider to the right.

Sometimes, over-increased saturation can look unnatural, and it might be better to increase the vibrancy instead. Vibrancy only increases the colours in an image where it is not already saturated, rather than the whole image, when the slider is pulled to the left.

Increase or reduce saturation and vibrancy

11 – Welcome warmth

The Warm Edit feature does what it says on the tin. Move the slider to the left to add warmth, resulting in a more yellow and red-tinged photo. Move the slider to the right to remove the warmth and give images a blue and green hue.

Similarly, the Tint slider will add either a red (slide left) or green (slide right) shade to your photo, which can even out skin tones or harsh colouring.

12 – Add sharpness and definition

Sometimes an image can lose detail due to shapes and edges appearing softer. You can use both the Sharpness and Definition tools to increase the clarity of a photo; slide the bar to the left on both Sharpness and Definition to change up the visibility of soft edges.

13 – Navigate noise reduction

Have you ever taken a photo that looks grainy? Capturing images in low light can result in image noise. Pull the Noise Reduction slider to the left to reduce the noise and take the grain out of an affected photo. Be careful not to adjust it too far, as you could end up with a blurry image.

14 – Play with vignette

A quick way to add a retro feel to any photo is by adding vignette, which darkens or lightens the corners of an image. This creates a lens effect and pulls the focus of the image to the centre. Just drag the slider to the left for a dark vignette, or the right for a light vignette.

15 – Discard changes when you want

While you experiment and learn how to edit photos on your iPhone, you aren’t always going to be happy with the finished result. No changes are permanent in the Edit menu until you save them down, so just press 'Discard' to return to your original image and start again.

Now you have everything at your disposal to take full control of your photos, bringing life and vibrancy to your smartphone snaps. If you recently got your hands on a new handset, our guide to moving data from your old phone to your new one will ensure you don't lose any precious pictures and memories along the way.

FAQs

Can you use Photoshop on an iPhone?

So, you’ve mastered the edit menu on iPhone and you’re interested in taking your photo editing skills to the next level, or you might already be a Photoshop pro. Take the plunge and download Adobe Photoshop Express for iOS to try your hand at more detailed and professional iPhone picture editing.