Turn Off the iPhone Camera Shutter Sound Effect to Take Photos Silenty

Mar 25, 2013 - 14 Comments

iPhone camera icon As we all know, any time a photo is taken with the iPhone camera, a little shutter sound accompanies the snapping of the picture. That sound effect is all software, and so though you might expect there to be a simple settings change to toggle that sound effect off, well, you may be disappointed to learn there just isn’t such a setting.

Instead, you will need to hit the mute switch on the side of the iPhone itself before taking pictures if you want to mute the camera sound.

Mute the iPhone camera sound

Yes, believe it or not, that’s the only way to easily disable the shutter sound effect. This is also the only way to silently take a screen shot in iOS.

Update: Another method has been discovered that works with iOS 7 and newer, and doesn’t depend on the Mute switch: Open the Music app and start playing a song, then turn the song volume all the way down to nothing. Now use the Camera app as normal, which will take photos completely silently.

Other Silent Shutter Methods Require a Jailbreak

There are a few other ways to disable the camera sound, but for now they require a jailbreak in order to use. Since not all iPhones are able to be jailbroken, and not everyone wants to jailbreak anyway, this isn’t necessary the most viable option for everyone. That said, there are several easy to install apps available through Cydia that will give you the option to turn off the shutter sound, and you can also manually disable the sound yourself by renaming the actual sound effect file contained in the iOS filesystem.

Muting the Sound with a Jailbreak App

“Silent Photo Chill” is on Cydia and will mute both the camera shutter and screen shot sound effect, so does SnapTap, which also had the ability to take pictures with the volume buttons before Apple implemented similar features in iOS 5. Those apps will also give the ability to mute the screen shot sound in iOS.

Disabling the Shutter Sound by Renaming the Sound Effect File

This is fairly easy, but you’ll either need a jailbroken device with SSH open, or an app like iFile or iExplorer with the comfort level of tweaking core system files that could have unintentional consequences.

Issue this command after you have used SSH to connect to the iPhone, it will rename the shutter sound effect, thereby preventing it from sounding at all:
mv /System/Library/Audio/UISounds/photoShutter.caf /System/Library/Audio/UISounds/photoShutter-off.caf

Those familiar with tweaking various system sounds in OS X will find this to be quite similar, and you can actually change the shutter sound effect by just replacing the photoShutter.caf sound effect with another sound, the only requirement is that it’s short and saved with the same name and file type.

This can be undone by issuing the following command, which just renames the file back to its default:
mv /System/Library/Audio/UISounds/photoShutter-off.caf /System/Library/Audio/UISounds/photoShutter.caf

Perhaps easier, with iFile or another similar filesystem app, navigate to:

/System/Library/Audio/UISounds/

Then tap on ‘photoShutter.caf’ and rename it to anything else.

Shutter Sound Toggle in Future iOS Versions?

Though it’s hardly a big deal to flip the Mute switch on and off, it still seems like we should have an option to be able to toggle the camera and screen shot sound effect on and off directly in Sound Settings, much like there is on the Mac with OS X. Perhaps in a future iOS version we will gain such an option.

Thanks to Pat for the tip idea

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

14 Comments

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  1. Mikofox says:

    Or plug anything in the headphone port, i.e. a cut-off adapter plug.

  2. jon says:

    In some countries (like Japan), the shutter sound is permanently on & set to high volume no matter what you do with the Mute switch or the headphone jack. Unless your iPhone is jailbroken you don’t have many options other than just jamming something over the speaker holes, like your finger or some chewing gum. If your phone isn’t in a case, the finger works surprisingly well.

  3. Fake user says:

    It’s a legal requirement so you can’t take sneaky photos of people. They must be made aware your photographing them.

  4. Jack L. says:

    Thanks for listing the jailbroken apps as alternative options. This really helps.

  5. Jon says:

    “Perhaps in a future iOS version we will gain such an option.” ? Pretty sure they will patch the mute-switch “bug” instead! As it is already said, they don’t want to promote sneaky picture taking.

  6. Oli De Guzman says:

    “Instead, you will need to hit the mute switch on the side of the iPhone itself before taking pictures if you want to mute the camera sound.” – This option doesn’t work! I have an iPhone 4s running 6.1.2 (JB) and I’ve tried even lowering the volume to nothing but still has a shutter sound when taking pictures.

  7. expert witness says:

    osxdaily, sometimes great and right, sometimes wrong and a bit slack.

    it’s not the only way to not have a shutter sound, you can also turn down the music volume to nothing.

    ever thought of osxweekly? ;)

    • binaryspiral says:

      Wow, that actually worked.

      Jump into itunes and play a song… turn the volume all the way down.

      Snap a photo in silence.

  8. Peter says:

    I find that covering the speaker with a finger while taking a photo in many situations mutes the sound enough to make it almost unnoticable.

  9. Grant says:

    Japanese regulations are ridiculous. I can’t even take a screenshot without the damned camera sound blaring at full volume. Thanks for the tip!

  10. Matt says:

    I hate the stuiped sound. I forget it’s on, and I’ll take a screen shot at work. In a quite office, that sound travels far! It probly leaves people wondering what the heck I’m taking photos of. Stupid feature, stuiped standards.

  11. Renae says:

    The music option is not permanent, you have to leave the song playing (can’t pause it) which will eat up battery life. If you close the music app, the sound will return.

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