Live Photos crossed-out on an iPhone silhouette.

By default, modern iPhones capture small videos called “Live Photos” every time you take a picture with the Camera app. These Live Photos take up a lot of expensive storage space, and if you don’t use them, they could be wasting your money. Here’s what you should do instead.

Apple Storage Space Is Expensive

Before we dig in, we should first note that if you regularly enjoy taking and sharing Live Photos, they aren’t a waste of space. Live Photos are a neat feature. But if you never use them, you’re storing a lot of unnecessary data that could be costing you money.

Storage space comes at a premium in the Apple universe, with larger storage sizes on iPhones often costing hundreds of dollars more than the lower-end models. You pay more for larger iCloud storage as well, which holds your iCloud Photo backups.

An Apple Live Photo captures three seconds of audio and video in addition to a still photo. Typically, a video takes up more space than a still photo because it incorporates many still photo frames and audio as well.

We took test photos on an iPhone 13 and examined the Live Photo file sizes. The still photo part of a typical Live Photos was about 5 megabytes, and the video file was about 8 megabytes, totaling 13 megabytes for a complete Live Photo. Multiply that out by the thousands of photos people usually store on their devices, and the 8 MB of extra video data adds up quickly. If you take 1000 live photos at 13 megabytes each, that’s 13,000 megabytes, or 13 gigabytes of space. If you take 1000 still photos instead (at 5 megabytes each), that would only take up 5 gigabytes of space. You’ve saved 8 gigabytes of wasted space by turning off Live Photos, which we’ll show you how to do below.

RELATED: What Is Apple's iCloud and What Does It Back Up?

How to Stop Taking Live Photos

Luckily, Apple makes it easy to disable Live Photos, but the process is still somewhat confusing. To get started, first open the Camera app and make sure you’re in “Photo” mode (not “Video” or “Portrait,” for example).

Locate the Live Photo button on the toolbar, which looks like three concentric circles (one of which is a dotted circle). This will disable Live Photo for this session, and you can confirm it when you see the “Live Off” message and a slash through the Live Photo icon.

Unfortunately, this change is only temporary—for now. By default, the next time you re-launch the Camera app, the Live Photo feature will turn back on automatically. To make sure it stays off, you’ll need to slip a switch in Settings.

To make the necessary change, open the Settings app, which you can usually find on your home screen.

In Settings, navigate to Camera > Preserve Settings. Scroll down and toggle the switch beside “Live Photo” to the on position.

Switch "Live Photo" to "On," which will preserve your Live Photo settings in the Camera app.

Don’t worry, you haven’t just enabled Live Photo. Instead, this switch makes the Camera app preserve your Live Photo on or off setting between sessions. So if you turn it off and relaunch the Camera app later, Live Photo will still be off the next time.

(If you change your mind, you can still manually turn Live Photos back on at any time by tapping the Live Photo icon on the toolbar in Camera.)

After a while of taking normal still photos, you’ll notice that they don’t take up as much space as Live Photos, and that means you’ll have room for even more photos on your iPhone (and in your iCloud Drive). If you already have thousands of Live Photos stored, there’s no easy way to convert them all to still photos to save space. You can do the conversion process one-at-a-time, however. Happy snapping!

RELATED: How to Convert Your iPhone's Live Photos to Still Photos

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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