Have you ever missed an opportunity to take the perfect photo or video because you didn’t have time to access the camera app on your smartphone? Your phone may have some shortcuts built into its software and settings, although some keys may be less obvious than others. Here’s a quick guide to getting the speed you need so you don’t miss your moment.
Need a camera now? With most recent iPhones running iOS 14, simply swipe left from the lock screen to access the camera app directly. Tapping the camera icon in the bottom right corner of the lock screen will also open the app.
On many Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones running Android 11, you can open your default camera app by briefly pressing the phone’s power button or Side key twice. (If not, open Android system settings and check the Gestures option or confirm that Samsung’s Side Keys setting has Quick Launch for the camera enabled.)
You can also ask your phone’s assistant to open the camera for you. Android’s Google Assistant will even snap a shutter or start recording on command, as does the Bixby assistant on Samsung Galaxy phones.
And the volume buttons on many phones also double as an additional shutter button.
Smartphones typically have one front-facing camera for self-portraits and at least one camera on the back. To switch between them, tap the circular arrow icon in the camera app or ask the voice assistant to “take a selfie.”
On recent Google Pixel models, hold the phone and rotate your wrist twice to switch between the front and rear cameras. On newer Samsung Galaxy phones, swipe up or down in the camera app to switch cameras.
On phones with multiple rear cameras (wide-angle, standard, and telephoto), tap the screen to select a camera. Move the zoom slider on the screen to adjust the angle. Tap the screen to access exposure and focus controls.
Want to immediately switch to video recording? With iPhone XR or later, press and hold the camera’s shutter button to record a QuickTake video, or slide your finger to the right to lock video recording so you can still take a photo. On the Google Pixel and certain Samsung Galaxy phones, press and hold the shutter button to record without having to swipe to Video mode.
In Samsung’s Single Shot mode on newer Galaxy phones, tap the shutter button once and move the camera around. The phone will capture up to 10 seconds of photos and videos of the scene from different angles.
Enhance your selfies
Your phone may also have settings that allow you to automatically improve your self-portraits. On iPhone 11 and iPhone 12, widen your selfie angle by tapping the arrows on the screen.
The Google Camera app on recent Pixel phones offers zoom and selfie-specific settings to illuminate your face and smooth out your look; tap the arrow at the top of the camera screen to open those settings. Many Samsung Galaxy phones also include options in the camera settings for self-portrait tones and angles.
Record the action
Some subjects are fast-moving, like athletes, animals, or toddlers. When you don’t intend to shoot video, you can quickly capture a continuous series of still images in “sequential shooting” mode, then go back and select the perfect shot from the series.
On recent iPhone models, swipe the Camera app’s shutter button to the left to start taking a photo; on iPhone X or earlier, press and hold the shutter button. After you release the button, open the thumbnail image in the photo library, tap the Select button, and swipe through the images in the cluster, selecting the images to keep. Many Samsung Galaxy phones shoot in a similar fashion by swiping the shutter button, but check your manual for specifics.
Google doesn’t have a burst mode specifically for Pixel phones running Android 11, but you can grab your favorite frames from motion pictures or videos. Open the Google Camera app, tap the arrow at the top of the screen, and turn on Motion Photos (like Apple’s Animations or Samsung’s Animations, which capture several frames of the action when you press the shutter button). Then, tap on the Settings icon, select Advanced, and turn off “In-depth social features”.
After you’ve taken a photo or clip, open it and swipe up on the screen. Select “Picture in this picture” or “Picture in this video. “Swipe through the series until you find your favorites, then tap the save option.
Features vary based on your phone’s hardware and software, but taking a few minutes to discover your camera’s shortcuts can save time later – when you really need to.