How to quickly lift subjects and remove background in Photos app on iOS and iPadOS 16

How to quickly lift subjects and remove background in Photos app on iOS and iPadOS 16

WWDC was packed this year. We got a preview of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and watchOS 9 — all of which introduce plenty of major features across the respective operating systems. And perhaps one of the most notable additions to stand out is the ability to lift subjects by removing the backgrounds in photos and videos — even when they’re not shot in Portrait mode. The process requires no 3D mapping through a compatible camera system. It just works. And as you’d expect from Apple, this feature works completely offline — thanks to on-device processing and machine learning. It’s surprisingly very accurate when it comes to smoothening the edges of the subjects. It truly blows my mind away every time I use it. And the more surprising element is that it works on the spot with no prior indexing required. There is a very small learning curve here if you haven’t followed the keynote, so we will list out the steps involved. Here’s how to lift subjects and remove backgrounds on iOS and iPadOS 16.

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How to remove backgrounds on iOS and iPadOS 16

  • Ensure that your iDevice is running iOS or iPadOS 16 and has the A12 Bionic chip or a faster processor.
  • Launch the Photos app.
  • Press and hold on a subject in a photo or video of your choice.
    • The subject can be a person or a pet, or a group of the two in some combination, or even parts of them.

How to lift subjects from a background in Photos on iOS and iPadOS 16

  • Copy and Share buttons will pop up, as an animated bright edge revolves around the subject. You can either paste it in another app or share it directly through the latter button.

How to lift subjects from a background in Photos on iOS and iPadOS 16

  • To make the process easier, you can even just drag the subject away from the background without releasing it.

How to lift subjects from a background in Photos on iOS and iPadOS 16

  • Afterwards you can switch apps and drop it anywhere with photo format support.

If you need a bit more visual assistance, you can see the feature in action in Apple’s keynote:


This new tool is truly a great addition to the iPhone and iPad. Many people might consider it a minor change. However, those who used to depend on third-party software to isolate subjects and change their backgrounds will appreciate how seamless Apple’s implementation is. It’s also worth noting that it works in Quick Look, Safari, and other apps.

Do you see yourself using this new background removal tool on iOS and iPadOS 16? Let us know in the comments section below.

About author

Mahmoud Itani
Mahmoud Itani

Mahmoud is an Istanbul-based Beiruti who has always sought freedom through writing. His hobbies include keeping up with tech news, writing articles about Apple devices & services, crocheting, meditating, and composing poetry. You’ll likely find him jogging at a park, swimming in open water, brainstorming at a coffeehouse, or merely lost in nature. He can be reached on Twitter @Mahmoudzitani or via [email protected]

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