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How to create image cutouts in iOS 16

How to create image cutouts in iOS 16


Cut photos of people, pets, and objects out from their background with a couple of easy steps — thanks to a new feature in iOS 16

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Illustration of a phone with a photo of a cat featured on screen.
Cut out your pet and paste it into the group chat.
Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

While the lock screen is one of iOS 16’s marquee features, there’s another fun addition that’s a little less obvious: the ability to easily cut out subjects from pictures. It’s a way to easily separate a subject from a background and quickly share the results or paste them into applications. What would usually take considerable time and effort when using photo editing software can be done with a couple of easy steps in iOS 16. It’s surprisingly good, and you can easily share the results with your group chat for maximum entertainment. Here’s how it works.

I followed these steps on both an iPhone 11 running iOS 16.0.2 and an iPhone 14 Pro running iOS 16.1 developer beta three.

  • Open Apple’s Photos app.
  • Find a picture in your camera roll with a subject that you want to isolate and cut out, like a person, pet, or a prominently featured object.
  • Long press on the subject until you feel a haptic buzz and see a white border appear, identifying your subject.
  • From here, tap either Copy or Share.
A photo of a cat with the subject highlighted and cut out from the background.
Cats are ideal subjects for this kind of feature.
You can copy your cutout or share it directly.
You can copy your cutout or share it directly.

If you copy the image, you can paste it anywhere that allows you to paste a PNG image file, like Google search, Messages, or even a note. If you tap Share, you’ll see options to AirDrop it, save the image to your camera roll, assign it to a contact, or add it to a new Quick Note, among others.

Essentially, that’s it! For a little more guidance on getting the best results, here are a few tips:

  • Any image saved to your camera roll is fair game — it doesn’t have to be taken with your iPhone.
  • It works best with people, pets, or clearly defined objects.
  • If you long press an image and nothing happens, try again by pressing a different part of the image. If multiple attempts fail, then it probably is just not a good candidate for image cutout.