Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How to lift a subject from the background in Photos in iOS

Many phone makers have recently been boasting about AI wizardry when editing photos, but did you know the iPhone also offers a lot of these fantastic features?

For example, any iPhone user using iOS 16 or later is able to easily lift the subject of a photo from its background. This allows you to easily assign your own background to a picture, giving you Photoshop-grade powers no matter your skill level.

If you’d like to make use of this feature, but you’re not sure how to, then follow our step-by-step guide below.

What you’ll need: 

  • Any iPhone powered by an A12 Bionic chipset or newer

The Short Version 

  1. Open Photos
  2. Select the photo you want to use
  3. Press and lightly hold on the subject you want to lift and cut out
  4. Tap ‘Copy’ or ‘Share’
  5. Paste it into another app or share it with friends

  1. Step

  2. Open Photos
  3. First off, unlock your compatible iPhone, find the Photos app and open it. It’s the app with an icon that looks a bit like a colourful flower.Open Photos

  4. Step

  5. Select the photo you want to use
  6. Now, you’ll want to find the photo you wish to cut out or remove a subject from. We’ve found this tends to work with snaps featuring strong subjects, either a person or a pet.Select the photo you want to use

  7. Step

  8. Press and lightly hold on the subject you want to lift and cut out
  9. Once you’ve found the photo you wish to use, press and hold lightly on the subject until a thin white line runs around the subject. You can see an example of what it looks like below.Press and lightly hold on the subject you want to lift and cut out

  10. Step

  11. Tap Copy or Share
  12. When the white line runs around the subject a pop-up will appear offering you the option to either Copy the image or Share it. If you copy it you’ll then be able to paste it into an app of choice, whereas clicking Share will let you send the image directly to an app like iMessage or WhatsApp.Tap 'Copy' or 'Share'

  13. Step

  14. Paste it into another app or share it with friends
  15. For this example, we’ll click Share and then send it to an iMessage contact.Paste it into another app or share it with friends


What file size does the image save as?

The image will save as a .PNG file, so it’s easy to use in apps like Photoshop.

How accurate is the cutout?

We’ve had some instances where the cutout is great, while other times it’s not as successful. It struggles a little with wavy and messy hair and can often pull a bit of the background in before. Sadly, you can’t manually alter the cutout if you’re not happy with it.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words