The easiest way to search your Photos library is to use the Search tab at the top. However, you can also find specific photos and videos by filtering images by app name, camera or device, and even location. With iPhone’s Live Text feature, you can also search for text within images.
Finding that favorite photo you took can be frustrating when you have thousands to sift through. Fortunately, there are plenty of useful tricks for finding and filtering your media, including photos, videos, imports, and more. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks.
Find specific people, objects and more
With the Search tab, you can easily search for people, animals, and objects in the Photos app. The search function works well for finding animals like cats and dogs, objects like cars and boats, clothing like hats and sunglasses, natural features like rivers or mountains, or events like concerts.
Simply select “Search” on the toolbar and type your query in the search bar.
You can be as descriptive as you like. For example, you can search for foods like nachos or rooms in your house like the kitchen. Start typing “at the show” and see what you find.
For the search to work with people, you’ll first need to link your lookalike to a contact. Tap the Albums tab. Scroll down to “People & Places” and tap the selection of faces that Photos has generated.
From here, you can tap individual people, then tap “Add Name” at the top and link the likeness to a contact.
To further train Photos to better recognize people, click on each photo and look for the “Review” button. You can then confirm or deny resemblances. Some people may have multiple receding hairlines due to changes in appearance, such as a new haircut. Go ahead and tag them with the same name.
Search for text and subtitles too
Thanks to the iPhone’s live text feature, you can also search for text within images. For example, you can search for words on a page, book titles, road signs, or billboards. It might even be able to pick up handwriting if it’s legible enough for the iPhone to recognize it.
You can give yourself a fighting chance to find something specific later by attaching a title. To do so, find the photo in your library, then swipe up to see more information about it. Tap the “Add a title” field, then type your description.
go back in time
Your iPhone may display images from this time last year, three years ago, or even ten years ago if your media files date back that far. These sometimes appear in the “For You” tab or as reminder notifications, but you can also search for them manually.
The key is to type the phrase exactly to see the relevant entry. For example, you can type “Three years ago” and then touch the event that appears. You can also do this for “Last Month” and “Last Week”.
You can even filter by images taken in a particular month by searching for that month or adding the year (eg “January 2019”) to be more specific. Of course, you can always scroll down to the date range in the “Library” tab, but doing the above is much faster.
Filter images by application
Many apps save images to your Camera Roll. You can quickly find these images by searching the app. For example, you can search for “Instagram” or “Twitter” to find social media posts that you’ve manually saved from those platforms.
You can also search for “Safari” to see a list of images you have saved from your web browser. Just be sure to tap on the “Application” icon (it has an App Store logo next to it) when searching.
Note: This feature is limited to images saved after the iOS 15 update when Photos started storing more image metadata.
Filter media by camera or iPhone
You can filter images and videos by searching for the specific device used to capture them. This process uses the EXIF metadata stored along with a photo, which is now fully searchable.
For example, you can try looking up your first iPhone to see how far mobile photography has come in a few years.
This works regardless of the camera. If you have photos that were taken with a Nikon, Canon, or Sony digital camera saved in your library, start typing the make and tap the corresponding model that appears (it will appear next to a “Camera” icon).
Find images taken by location
Find locations by searching for them with natural language, just as you would for a person, object, or event. You can search for a country, state, address, highway, bike path, headquarters, or airport.
Can’t find the location you’re looking for? You can also see all your images on a map in the Albums tab. Scroll down to “People and Places”, then tap “Places” to see the map. You can scroll the map and zoom in and out to show or hide photos.
The map is useful if Photos has assigned a poor description to your photo, but you know exactly where you took it. For example, some photos we took inside a live music venue were tagged with the name of the nearby street instead of the venue.
Find media you’ve recently received or imported
All photos recently shared with you through the Messages app will appear under the For You tab in the “Shared with you” section. This only works if “Shared with you” and “Photos” are enabled in Settings > Messages > Shared with you and the person sending the media is in your contact list.
You will see the contact listed along with the medium in question. This is a handy way to find an image that you know was recently shared with you through Messages without having to go through your message history or multiple conversations.
You can also find imports in the Albums tab, which was added in iOS 16. Scroll down to the bottom of the list and tap “Imports” to see the imported photos and videos by import event. Simultaneously transferred media (from an app or a contact) will be grouped with the date listed above.
This is especially useful if someone sends you a series of images or videos using AirDrop and you’re trying to distinguish them from images you took yourself.
Find hidden or deleted photos
In iOS 16, Hidden and Recently Deleted albums are protected by Face ID or Touch ID. You can still find them in the usual place in the Albums tab by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and tapping the “Hidden” or “Recently Deleted” album label.
Note: Recently deleted photos will be deleted after 30 days.
Filter by selfies, panoramas and other types of images
Your iPhone already separates your images into albums based on media type, attributes, and source in the Albums tab. Here you will find a list of different categories, allowing you to quickly find videos, selfies, images with Live Photos and more.
You can view your images in Portrait mode, view your favorite time-lapse videos, and view your panoramas. It is important to note that images taken in Panorama mode that are cropped will not be included here.
You can even filter screenshots, screen recordings, RAW images and animated GIFs that you have saved. This can make cleaning up your Photos library a bit easier.
Find duplicate photos (and delete them)
The Photos app can also find and merge duplicate photos and videos to save space. Tap “Duplicates” to see a list of duplicate photos or videos. You can review each entry and then tap “Merge”. Your iPhone will keep the highest quality version of any duplicates.
You can also merge all of your duplicates at once by tapping Select > Select All > Merge.
Do more with the Photos app
The iPhone Photos app is useful and powerful. You can use it to back up your media library, isolate subjects from your background, and create shared albums with iPhone and non-iPhone users.
It’s also a powerful image and video editor with batch editing capabilities to boot.