burst mode example
Harry Guinness

Burst mode is a great way to guarantee you get any action shot—but, as of iOS 14, it’s slightly hidden on the iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and newer devices. Here’s how to use it on a modern iPhone.

Taking Photos and Videos With QuickTake

QuickTake is a new feature that makes it easier to capture short videos while you shoot photos on your iPhone. It makes the camera app work more like the built-in cameras in apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

To capture a short video, hold down the “Shutter” button. When you release it, the recording will stop. If you want to record a longer video, hold down the “Shutter” button and drag it to the padlock on the right. This will lock the recording until you tap the “Stop Recording” button. You can keep taking photos by tapping the “Shutter” button even as you record.

taking photo iphone taking video iphone

If you’ve used an iPhone for a while, you might notice this is how you used to shoot bursts. Now, to shoot a burst of photos, hold the “Shutter” button and drag it to the left. Your iPhone will keep shooting until you release it.

taking burst iphone taking burst iphone

You have to drag the shutter quite quickly; pause too long and your iPhone will start recording video.

If, like me, you like shooting in burst mode, it takes a little bit of getting used to. But there’s a better way.

Set Volume Up to Burst Mode

The volume buttons on your iPhone double as a shutter release and work with QuickTake. Tap “Volume Up” or “Volume Down” to take a photo, hold them down to shoot a short video.

However, you can configure your iPhone so that holding “Volume Up” instead shoots a burst of photos, while holding “Volume Down” still shoots video. It’s a great way to have total control of your camera.

To enable it, go to Settings > Camera, and enable “Use Volume Up For Burst.”

Tap "Camera" in Settings Activate "Use Volume Up for Burst" in Camera Settings

Selecting Photos from a Burst

Not every photo you shoot in a burst will be good. In fact, you probably only want to keep one or two. Your iPhone will automatically select what it thinks is the best photo but you should still go through them yourself.

To sort photos from a burst, open the Camera Roll. Bursts appear as a little stack of photos, although it’s quite hard to see. Tap in and you’ll also see “Burst (X photos)” in the top left.

burst stack iphone burst photos iphone

Tap “Select,” and swipe through the collected photos tapping each one you want to keep. Then tap “Done.” You have the option to either “Keep Everything” or “Keep Only X Favorites.”

sorting iphone burst selecting burst iphone

Choose the option that best applies. In either case, the photos you selected will be pulled from the burst and appear as individual photos in your Camera Roll ready to be edited, shared, or ignored forever.

(Confusingly, they don’t get added to your Favorites album. To do that, you’ll need to re-favorite them by tapping the Heart icon.)

Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
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