MAC TIPS + TRICKS: Camera Features

My monthly ‘theme’ for May is random Mac tips + tricks (iPhone + computer) that you may never have used that will make your life EASIER! Today’s post is all about the iPhone Camera!



Gridlines displayed on the camera screen are really useful! I use them when I’m taking a photo of a landscape scene and I want to make sure my horizon line is straight. Or when I’m intentionally trying to frame my photo using the ‘rule of thirds.’ You can turn on the grid within Settings/Camera.


The built-in level function is helpful for overhead photos (like when I’m photographing artwork for my kids’ chatbooks). Even better? It’s already enabled on your camera (as long as you have Grid turned on). Whenever you’re taking an overhead shot, a yellow plus sign appears on the camera screen. Once the white plus and yellow plus are in alignment, your phone is perfectly level with the ground. Neat, huh?


Did you know you can take a still photo WHILE you’re filming a video? While you’re filming a video, tap the white circle in the corner (shown below) and it’ll automatically save a still photo of that exact moment to your camera roll!


If you have an Apple Watch, it can be used as a remote for your iPhone camera. This is really helpful when you want to get a group shot, while you’re actually in the photo. Prop your iPhone camera on a surface (or use a handy tripod!) and tap your watch to trigger the camera’s shutter when you’re ready to take the photo. You’ll find this function by pressing the watch knob and tapping the Camera icon in the app list. If you hit the 3s in the bottom right corner it’ll start the camera timer (a 3 second countdown) and if you hit the plain white circle, it’ll immediately take the photo.


In 2017, Apple developed a new photo format called heic. It is a high resolution file that takes up less space than the traditional jpeg file format. This format is gradually being accepted by non-Apple programs, however it’s still not universally recognized (I’ve encountered issues with heic files in Adobe products, as well as thumbnails not displaying right in Finder on my Mac computer which is really annoying). If you want to go back to a jpeg format, you can make a quick switch in Settings/Camera/Formats. ‘Most Compatible’ will save your photos in jpeg format, which is my personal preference.

Well, did you learn anything new about your iPhone camera? If not, check back next week for more Mac tricks!

  • Melissa

    This is so helpful!  I just realized that the plus sign/level is only active if the grid lines are turned on in settings!  I am most excited about this feature as I get ready to photograph my kids artwork.ReplyCancel

    • Good to know! I’ll add this to my post so others don’t get confused. Good luck with the artwork!ReplyCancel

  • Jeannie

    I have an iPhone XR. I do not get the camera level. Do I have to turn something on? Thanks for these tips! I always learn something.ReplyCancel

    • Yes, enable Grid in Settings/Camera in order for the level to work. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Kayla

    My camera has been taking photos in the Heic format. If I turn it back to JPEG will it covert all the ones I’ve taken or will I have to manually do it?  I’ve been having a storage issue with my iPhone and cloud so I bought your boot camp course hoping it will help me out!  Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis

    This was very helpful! Thank you! I only l knew one of the tricks and now I now more😀ReplyCancel

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Miss Freddy is a Professional Photo Organizer, serving clients worldwide. Learn more about my services.