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Extract the Subject from any Photo [Video Tutorial]

28th August 2022

Jacob Woolcock



With iOS 16 you can now easily extract the subject from a photo (whether that’s a person, group of people, animal, object or something else entirely) and drag it anywhere you like on iOS. That means you could save it as a new image (with a transparent background), paste it into Messages as a sticker or drop it into a document you’re working on. This short and easy-to-follow guide will show you exactly how it works.

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Sometimes a feature just seems almost magical like you can’t quite get your head around how it works.

Photo Cutout in iOS 16 is exactly like that!

Here’s what it’s like.

So when you go into a photo on iOS 16, whether it’s in the Photos app or even one that you found online when browsing the internet, you can tap and hold on the subject of that picture.

When you do this a very strange thing will happen, because the subject of that picture underneath your finger will move slightly closer to you and away from the background in the picture.

That’s because your iPhone has just instantly cut out that object from the background of the photo.

Here I’m holding an Apple Watch strap and now, when I move my finger, I can move my arm and the Apple Watch band anywhere I want.

It’s detached from the photo itself!

It’s really surreal.

If I use another finger to press the back button in the top corner, I can then let go of the cutout in the Photo app itself and that will then save it as a brand new image with a transparent background.

Let’s go on to another one – this time of a very handsome young man by his computer(!), and when I go onto there I can tap and hold.

And just like before the actual subject, in this case me, will be cut out from the background – no matter how cluttered or busy it is.

This time rather than dragging and dropping, I’m just going to take my finger away.

Once that element has been selected, now I get this really cool light that traces around the outside of my body and I get the option to Copy or to Share.

If I go onto Share I can then send this the picture to anyone that I like, or I can just tap Save Image and just like before it will make a new image in the Photos app of this cutout.

Now this seems to work on about 90% of the pictures that I’ve tried it on, even ones that you think it really shouldn’t be possible on.

For example in this last photograph I’m holding an iPad right in front of my Mac, and I don’t know how my phone knows to separate the two.

But when I tap and hold on myself, not only do I get selected, but the iPad I’m holding does as well.

I’m going to tap onto Copy and jump into messages, and then Paste that to myself.

This feature is absolutely mind-blowing, and whilst it’s never going to be quite as accurate as using Photoshop to professionally cut out a picture – it does an incredibly good job super, super quickly!

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