How to capture FaceTime Live Photos

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facetime live view
FaceTime can capture LivePhotos and save them to your camera roll.
Photo: Cult of Mac

You know how when you’re on a FaceTime call with your parents, and your father holds his favorite recipe up to the camera, and you use the screenshot to capture a photo of it? Well, now there’s a proper, official way to capture images from FaceTime calls. Even better, they’re not just stills. The captures are Live Photos, so you can relive that goofy smile from your grandparent long after they’re gone.

Capturing a Live Photos from a FaceTime call

FaceTime lets you know when someone snaps a Live Photo of you.
FaceTime lets you know when someone snaps a Live Photo of you.

In iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, there’s a new camera shutter button on the screen when you’re in a FaceTime call. Tap or click this button (or use the Touch Bar on Macs that have it), and a Live Photo will be snapped and added to your Photos collection.

Live Photos capture a short snippet of video along with the still image, which is little more than a curiosity now, but which pays off in the future when you can get glimpses into the past of now-grown-up kids, and long-departed friends and family.

Enabling and disabling Live Photos in FaceTime calls

This is what you'll see if FaceTime Live Photos are blocked.
This is what you’ll see if FaceTime Live Photos are blocked.

There are two important things to know about capturing Live Photos from FaceTime:

  1. The person on the other end of the call will get an on-screen message telling them that you have snapped a Live Photo
  2. You can prevent other people from capturing Live Photos of you in the Settings app.
Switch off FaceTime Live Photos here
Switch off FaceTime Live Photos here

Both of these are great features, especially the one which notifies you that a snap has been captured. People can still capture a sneaky screenshot, but there’s no way to prevent that. At least with this new method, you know when it has happened. To enable or disable the ability to take Live Photos during FaceTime calls, head to Settings>FaceTime, and toggle FaceTime Live Photos on or off.

Long-distance camera

I love this feature. Taking a screenshot gets the job done, but why stop there? Capturing photos like this effectively turns the FaceTime connection into a long-distance lens, allowing you to capture proper, good-quality Live Photos from afar. And the ability to block the feature means you don’t have to worry about it if you don’t like it. Another nice tweak for iOS 11 and High Sierra.