How to Duplicate Photos on iPhone and iPad

Sep 4, 2016 - 15 Comments

How to Duplicate Photos on iPhone and iPad

Do you have a great picture on your iPhone or iPad that you want to make a copy of, maybe so that you can apply some edits or color adjustments to the duplicate version without messing with the original copy? With iPhone and iPad, you can easily duplicate any picture, photo, image, Live Photo, or video using a simple iOS copy trick.

Let’s review how to quickly duplicate copies of a picture or video in the iOS Photos app.

Note this is quite literal, duplicate makes an exact copy of an image so that there will be two identical copies of a picture stored in the Photos app on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. You can then modify or edit the duplicate photos or videos as necessary.

How to Duplicate a Picture or Video in Photos for iOS

Here’s what you’ll want to do to make duplicate copies of videos and photos on iPhone and iPad:

  1. Open the Photos app in iOS and select the picture you want to make a duplicate of
  2. Select the picture to duplicate  in iOS

  3. Tap on the picture so that the Sharing / Action button is visible and then tap on the sharing button (it looks like a little box with an arrow flying out of the top)
  4. Tap the share action button to find Duplicate Photo option in iOS

  5. Scroll through the available action items and choose “Duplicate”
  6. How to duplicate photos in iOS on iPhone and iPad

  7. Return to the Photos Album or Camera Roll to find your duplicated picture, there will now be two identical copies of the same photo available

Duplicated photos in iOS

In the screenshots shown here we demonstrate the duplicate photo feature on an iPhone by making an exact copy of a picture of a fruit smoothie (and yes it was delicious; banana, strawberry, blueberry, watermelon!).

Duplicated photos on iPhone

This is really useful for making edits or modifications to pictures, even though some of them with the bundled Photos editing tools are reversible, it still helps to preserve a picture or video in its original format.

Duplicate Photos works on any picture, photo taken with the camera, Live Photos, photo stored in Photos, video, or image kept on the iOS device. You can use it within any album in iOS Photos too, whether it’s selfies or videos or the general camera roll, it works the same anywhere.

This Duplicate photo feature is only available in modern versions of iOS, so if your iPhone or iPad is running some ancient system software or iOS version you will not find the Duplicate feature available without updating to a newer version. Remember you have to scroll through the action items, many users are not aware that you can scroll horizontally through the actionable Sharing items (you can also rearrange them to better suit your needs) and thus don’t realize the variety of features that are available in the menus of iOS.

You can repeat the duplicate process as many times as you want, the picture(s) will continue to copy and make duplicates of each other. These duplicates persist on the device until they are removed, so if you copy the pictures from iPhone into Photos app on the Mac you’ll find there will be duplicates showing up in your general Photos Library there as well.


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


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  1. Ben says:

    No way, you should think out of the box a little more before judging this article and Paul so harshly. What if you want to have two copies? Or three? Edited differently, with the original left as another copy? There is great value to the duplicate function, and it is not fully covered by Revert.

  2. no way says:

    This is completely unnecessary, you can always revert to the original photo by selecting the edited photo, click edit and select revert.

    Seems lately these “hints” from OSXDaily are more steps than necessary. Perhaps whoever is coming up with them needs to know more about OSX and iOS than they do.

    • Hi “no way”, sorry you didn’t like this piece about duplicating photos in iOS, unfortunately not every article is going to be useful to every reader.

      The whoever you refer to is me, I’m Paul Horowitz and I usually come up with the tips to write here. I’ve been doing this since 2006, have been using Macs since 1988, and the iPhone and iPad since they debuted. But you’re right, there is always more to learn. That’s part of why we have the diverse readership that we do, as we cover a broad range of topics for varying skill sets for nearly all things Apple, and there is always more to know. Perhaps the best thing about learning is that you discover that the more you know, the more you don’t know, it’s wonderfully humbling how that works isn’t it?

      Anyway, you’re welcome to submit ideas and tips or even write them yourself if you’d like, we always like to hear feedback and ideas from readers!

      • no way says:

        It baffles me when blatantly obvious things like revert get overlooked. No disrespect intended Paul, but perhaps its time for you to take a break from this for a bit, or research further before you publish. This isn’t the first time I have pointed out (aka “suggested”) much simpler ways to your Tips and Tricks “suggestions” lately. I know it’s hard to keep up with technology but seriously, how much more obvious does revert need to be?

        Your column is appreciated and read every day religiously. I have gotten and use many of your tips all the time. Three of my favs are silencing the chimes on startup and permissions verify/repair terminal commands as well as BetterTouchTool.

        hey , no one is perfect, right?

        • I’m glad you enjoy most of our posts! The nature of focusing on such a broad topic as Apple, whether macOS, iOS, etc, means that some articles will be aimed at advanced users and some will be aimed at more novice users, and of course some in between. The tips and suggestions are always appreciated though, thanks!

      • Jack says:

        To Paul Horowitz, followup question:


        After passing an image from a camera’s SD card to the iPad, there seem to be two options for making a copy:

        A) Pressing both the home button and the on/off button at the same time to get a screenshot.
        B) using “Duplicate” as you have explained.

        Now, when I insert the copy from scenario A) in an outgoing email, the email shows the image size as 5.2MB.
        When I insert the copy from scenario B), the imail shows the image size as 1.6MB.

        Can you explain to me why the differnce, and what consequences are involved?



    • Don @ Audrey Farms says:

      The revert tip is a good one I use it often but it only works with Photos and not with third party apps.

  3. Mr EJ says:

    Nice feature. If I could rename my photos, that would be even better.

  4. Mike says:

    An important tip. One that most readers will test and remember. A lot of UI is not readily visible in IOS.

    • Zack Brunberg says:

      OK Duplicate is a nice feature, hidden but nice. Who would have known you can scroll sideways on some random icons that do not suggest you can scroll let alone interact beyond what’s on screen? That’s one of the biggest differences between the ‘new’ Apple and the ‘old’ Apple, the UI is now confusing, buried, hidden, etc, whereas the old Apple UI was always prided in being easy and obvious.

  5. Anne says:

    Cool! I never noticed it before!

    • Don @ Audrey Farms says:

      This is cool feature I agree, I think it was just introduced to iOS because I have an older model that does not have the Duplicate button available, only the Copy feature which seems to only allow pasting into emails and messages.

      Another interesting feature is that you can revert your changes to photos made in the Photos app of iOS but you can not revert the changes made to a picture by a third party app. The Photos revert feature is kind of like version control for pictures it works well too and is probably worth covering!

  6. Mattias Rayner says:

    I had no idea the duplicate feature existed on iPhone, thank you for the tip. I didn’t even know you could move around in the sharing buttons.

  7. Wharf Xanadu says:

    This is great, I duplicate saves when in snapseed but I will do this for iOS edits now.

    I take all my photos with iPhone today.
    now if only iOS had a file system so we could better manage pics and videos outside of the apps.

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