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Apple's "magic" iOS 16 photo cutout hack wows iPhone users

An iPhone showing a photo of a dog, with the dog highlighted and the options 'Copy' and 'Share'
(Image credit: Apple/Future owns)

When Apple announced iOS 16 back in June, it was the enhanced lock screen that hogged the headlines. iOS 16 finally landed last night, and while the customisable wallpapers and widgets are undeniably cool, it seems the internet is enthralled by an entirely different feature.

Catchily titled 'Lift subject from background', the new feature is already becoming known online as 'photo cutout'. It does exactly that – users can long-press on the subject of a photo, then copy it and paste it somewhere else. It almost looks like magic. (Hungry for more new iPhone features? Check out our guide to the newly announced iPhone 14.)

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It's curious that Apple didn't choose to make much of a song and dance about this feature. Hidden way down the iOS 16 feature list (opens in new tab), the cutout tool lets the user "lift the subject from an image or isolate the subject by removing the background. This works in Photos, Screenshot, Quick Look, Safari and more."

Image cutout in iOS 16

(Image credit: Apple)

But just a few hours into iOS 16's life, it seems the feature is already blowing away social media users. "Image Cutout slaps. It has its limitations, but GOD it feels like magic," one user tweets (opens in new tab), while another adds, "photo cutout is hands-down the coolest new iPhone feature for years." And if you're a fan of cute animals on plain white backgrounds, users have been taking to Twitter in their droves to share freshly cut-out animals. 

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And when you combine it with another viral iOS hack, things get truly magical. We've already been able to use gestures to copy and paste images between devices, but if your iPhone and iPad are logged into the same Apple account, you can now lift and drop the subject of a photo. The future is here.

So how do you use the feature? That's easy – all you need to do is open a photo and long-press on the subject, be it a person, animal or object. If the iPhone can detect the subject (and it's remarkable how often it can), you can then either copy it, or keep holding and lift to drag it directly onto another app. 

If you haven't downloaded iOS 16 yet, head into your iPhone's Settings app and select Software Update. While users of the iPhone 7 and below are out of luck, the update is compatible with anything from the 8 onwards. For the best iOS experience available right here and now, check out today's best iPhone 14 Pro deals below.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).