share live photos

Apple won’t describe them as such, but Live Photos are just short video files, and like any files, they can quickly be shared with friends and family. But unlike video files, Live Photos need to be shared in very specific ways in order to preserve the live aspect of the photo.

For instance, if you email a Live Photo to someone, the file will be stripped of the video component and will be attached and sent as a jpeg. So how do you send a Live Photo while making sure the “live” part of the photo remains?

The only 3 ways to share Live Photos

As it turns out, there seem to be only three ways to share a Live Photo while preserving the video animation:

  • via the Messages app
  • via AirDrop
  • by creating a Shared Photo Album

You don’t need to do anything special to share Live Photos besides making sure you send them through one of these methods mentioned above, and obviously, making sure the photo is stamped with this icon clearly labeling it as a Live Photo.

That's a Live Photo

iOS 9 and later only

It’s worth highlighting that Live Photos are a feature only available on iOS 9 and later. While Live Photos can only be taken on newer iPhone models, they can be shared to any device running iOS 9. Of course, Other platforms such as Android cannot view Live Photos. These devices will only be capable of viewing the photo as a still image, Live Photos being exclusive to Apple.

  • Other platforms such as Android cannot view Live Photos. These devices will only be capable of viewing the photo as a still image, Live Photos being exclusive to Apple.

    This is why proprietary formats suck. Apple really needs to open source the Live Photos format or at least provide technical documentation so that other platforms can implement support for the file format without having to do any reverse engineering.

    • Fanboy 

      And why SHOULD Apple open source something they create? 🙂

      • To encourage communication without data loss. In my opinion all file formats should be open source or at least well documented since without this data can and will be lost. For example when converting a word document to the OpenDocument format (.odt) data is quite often lost.

        People often do not always get to interpret data as it was intended to be interpreted due to the format in question not being open source or not having good documentation.

      • Fanboy 

        So Microsoft should also open source their paid software like Word is basically what you’re saying?

      • Not the software the file format. File formats need to be open and / or have good documentation so that everybody can see data as it was intended. Can you imagine if the web wasn’t open and we needed a trillion different pieces of software for each website? What if the web required a specific platform or device? Instead we just need one web browser that can interpret HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

      • Ángel Javier Esquivel


      • Jerwyn Feria

        to be honest though, its just a JPEG + MOV file to begin with. jpeg acts as a thumbnail and when held down by 3d touch or tap hold on other devices. it just plays the video over the image. There is no mystery there. It just requires 3D touch for the actual Live Photo. Aidan Harris, you aren’t wrong when it comes down to having somethings open and the analogies, but your answer for the problem of android not being able to view it isn’t because of apple. Android still running with carrier SMS and MMS, maybe for patent reasons, google hasn’t combined hangouts and Messages apps to create something similar to what Apple calls it iMessage. Although we would love to send Live photos to an Android Phone, the Android Phone will receive it as a JPEG file and a MOV file if a live photo was successfully sent. its just how the programming of the Messages app on an android phone will take those files as they are, separate files. iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches at iOS9 are programmed to read these two files together as one single entity.

        If you have any issues with not being able to receive live photo the way we Apple Fanatics do, i think you would need to bring it up to the people who provide your phone’s operating system (Manufacturer of the phone), or Google(into their suggestion box), or bring it up into the billion android forums out there. There must be someone out there working on something. But to ask of something like making live photos open source was not the question you should have asked because it shouldn’t need to be open source its just a image and a movie file sent as one entity via iMessages.

      • Agree with you completely, it’s too bad money is more important to all these companies.

    • Apple’s innovations such as FaceTime or Live Photos is part of their strategy to attract new customers and retain existing ones. They would shoot themselves in the foot if they open sourced any of that.

      • I can definitely see the commercial incentive for them to not release information on the formats their software uses I just don’t agree with it. The only person that wins when Apple locks down their file formats is Apple.

        I’d like to think that over time Apple will release more information on Live Photos so that they can be used on any platform or device but it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t.

        Like I said to @Fanboy :disqus above / below can you imagine a world where the web is locked down to a specific platform or device or we needed multiple pieces of software to access different websites?

        In order to communicate effectively with each other using technology we need open formats.

      • Shingo

        ITS TIME TO Rubbish Bin your andromeda device and get apple . SIMPLE!!!!

      • Blip dude

        Sorry to say, and I know most will disagree, but this is exactly why some people are put off by the likes of Apple. I agree that the stunt is to retain customers, and of course there are other companies that do this. But this statement is an example as to why people refuse to even give Apple a try.

        That being said, no. I tried send a LivePhoto to someone via iMessage with iOS 9 installed and all they got was a still photo. So perhaps something went wrong.

      • Xee

        I agree. You are always going to have friends or family that don’t have an Apple device. So that just renders Live Photos useless.
        Is there a way to extra the video yet from Live Photos? This is has future jailbreak tweak potential.

    • Ángel Javier Esquivel


    • Meh. If you want to take and send a video, do just that. No need for live photos.

      • Well indeed thats true too, The video shows a screen shot anyway, just record a 5 second video and it’ll be the same.

      • besrate hogsa

        Another useless feature from greedy apple

  • Dom Sad

    Live Photos are just normal jpeg photo + mov video file there is no innovation or magic here.
    It can be played on any device not only iPhone 6s

    • Jerwyn Feria

      viewing it on a mac or windows will not view as the way you would see it with an iPhone.

      • Dom Sad

        Yes I know but you can view it as separate photo and video.

      • Jerwyn Feria


  • iNeedANameHere

    So Apple’s logic is my iPhone 6 Plus is capable of viewing Live Photos but not taking them.

    • Xee

      Jailbreak tweak should sort that – when available. Hate the way Apple does this [email protected] as incentive to upgrade even though older hardware is perfectly capable. Apple should concentrate on making devices last as long as possible too, this is also more environmentally friendly.

  • RubbaNeck

    Does the live part remain intact when uploading to iCloud, deleting the photo from your device, then downloading it from iCloud back to device? I’m using google photos unlimited option and they do not work once saved back to phone. I’m not sure if this is the case with Dropbox, Copy, so forth and so on.

  • Smeltn

    so this says there is no way for us to download live photos online!!! That sucks I was really hoping to see some cool ones