Crop Images on iPhone & iPad Easily with Photos App

Jul 14, 2012 - 9 Comments

Photos iOS icon The Photos app in iOS includes a built-in crop tool that works very well for quick edits on the go with the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The bundled function offers a free transform options, thereby providing the ability to crop an image down to any proportion you’d like.

Perhaps even better is the optional use of a ‘constraint’ tool that lets you instantly crop images down to a variety of common photo proportions. These pre-defined dimensions include a perfect square, 3×2, 3×5, 4×3, 4×6, 5×7, 8×10, and 16×9, completely taking the guesswork out of getting proportions just right. No additional downloads or apps are required, it’s all included in the default Photos app of iOS.

How to Crop Pictures in iOS Photos App

You can use this to quickly crop any photo on the iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone, the usage is simple and it’s built right into Photos app as one of the native Edit features:

  1. Open the Photos app and tap the image you want to crop
  2. Tap the “Edit” button in the corner
  3. Now tap the little crop tool icon (it looks like a square)
  4. The Crop tool in iOS Photos app

  5. Drag the crop tool manually and adjust the image dimensions as desired
  6. The crop tool in Photos app for iOS

  7. OR, tap on “Constrain” to bring up the instant proportional cropping tool with common picture dimension options
  8. Crop image options in Photos for iOS

  9. When satisfied, tap “Save” and enjoy your newly cropped picture

The initial crop function looks like a big rectangle drawn around the image, this is the default free transform mode where each corner is draggable. The entire cropping rectangle can also be moved by tapping and dragging it.

In earlier versions of iOS the Crop Photo function is arranged slightly differently and has a different user interface, but it’s still very easy to use:

Crop an image on iPhone

Tapping on “Constraint” will summon the optional pre-defined dimensional cropping abilities that allow for instant precision dimensional crops:

Proportional crop tool in iOS Photos app works on iPhone or iPad

The changes to appearance are mostly just that, as the Crop tool works the same in all versions of iOS even if it looks differently.

You can select any of the defined constraint options to instantly crop the picture down to the desired size. The selection tool remains movable and can be grown or shrank according to it’s defined constraints, allowing you to further customize the image before saving.

When finished, saving the image will return it to the Photos app, either within a folder or the general Camera Roll containing all images, with the new dimensions or cropping set.

Photos app in iOS allows Cropping and Image Dimension Constraints

Use crop in combination with auto-enhance and you’ll be taking great pictures from your iPhone in no time. Don’t forget to enable the grid too to aid image composition when shooting photos too. For most users needs, these built in cropping and adjustment functions will be more than enough to handle simple image editing needs, though for users seeking more options, free apps like Snapseed offer excellent more advanced features.


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


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  1. Arlene Amodei says:

    Preview for Mavericks does not have a “save as” function. To save, you destroy your original. Not good.

  2. Cody Hyun Min Park says:

    My iPhone 4 has the editing features but my iPad does not support editing at all on the Photos app. Is there something I should know?

    FYI, I’m on the first generation iPad. Does that have anything to do with it?

    As always, thank you for the informative and practical facts in dealing with all Apple related matters. I read your website at least once a day.

    • Matt says:

      You may need iOS 5 or later installed to have the full series of photo editing tools, what version of iOS are you running?

  3. HC says:

    Is there any way to crop an image and save it as a new picture keeping the original one in iOS 5?

    • Dana says:

      Yes there is provided you enable Photostream. When you crop a photo from camera roll only the cropped image saves to camera roll but Photostream, when turned on in
      Settings>>iCloud >>Turn on Photostream.
      Note: Photosream must be enabled before the photo has been taken for original to be saved after cropping. The cropped photo and original will both be on photostream when edit is complete.

  4. Greg Sargent says:

    My photo app crashes on my iPhone 4 when cropping photos. I always end up using camera+ to edit photos.

  5. lws says:

    You should add:

    Using multitouch with two fingers you can also zoom and rotzte and move the picture around for more control in cropping.

  6. z2n says:

    16×9, just like the next iPhone screen…

  7. Daniel says:

    Constraint menu is cool, never noticed that… but you know what else… you should put down that newt it’s highly toxic!

    Must be in Santa Cruz, there are tons of them around there!

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