Shooting photos has become second nature to most iPhone enthusiasts, particularly since iPhones have some of the best mobile phone cameras in existence. But mobile phone cameras — just like standalone cameras — can be noisy, and each iPhone camera is accompanied by a shutter click that plays whenever you snap a photo. But sometimes that sound is both unneeded and unwanted. If you’re attending a meeting, or in a crowded room, you may prefer to shoot photos in silence. Thankfully, you can turn off the iPhone camera sound in most countries. Here’s how to do it, and why you may not be able to turn it off in some locations.
Turn on Live Photos
One of the easiest ways to shut down camera sound is to enable Live Photos in the iPhone Camera app. When Live Photos is turned on, your shutter sound is turned off by default. In iOS 14, the Live Photos control is the series of circles at the top right of the screen. First tap to switch it on, and then tap the arrow at the top middle to fine-tune the control to Auto, On, or Off. Then go ahead and photograph silently.
In iOS 13, the Live Photos control is located second from the top left.
When the Live Photos button is yellow, that means it’s on. When the button is white, that means it’s off. Live Photos differs from regular photos in that it saves a small video for every shot you take and that takes up more space than other photos. If you don’t need live photos on all the time, be sure to tap to switch it off.
Another easy way to mute iPhone camera sound is to use the ring/silent switch on the upper left-hand side. When you flick the switch to mute, you’ll feel the iPhone vibrate and see a notification signaling the switch. Turning off the ringer mutes all notifications, incoming calls, and other alerts, so although you may want to use this control judiciously, it’s great to know about if you need to quickly turn all sound off.
Turn down the volume
What can you do if the silent switch isn’t working? If you’re having problems getting your silent switch to cooperate, turning down the volume is the next best thing. Do that by using the volume button on the left-hand side of the phone. Just hold it down until you see the volume drop all the way down. But you have to do it at the right time. Here’s why: In iOS 13, if you do it while you’re in the camera app, it will start taking pictures in burst mode. If you do the same in iOS 14, the Camera will start shooting video. Yikes.
The trick is to lower the volume before you launch the Camera app and start shooting. Alternately, while in the Camera app, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen (in iOS 13) or from the top right of the screen (iOS 14) to access the Control Center, where you can lower the volume from there.
In some countries, notably Japan and South Korea, the camera shutter sound stays on at all times. Shutter muting is disabled, as phones sold there are customized for those markets to ensure privacy and prevent secret filming. Though it’s not a law, manufacturers and Japanese wireless carriers have cooperated so that phones make a distinctive sound whenever you use the camera. If you’re in these countries, even if you mute the iPhone, your camera app will still make a sound.
Possible workarounds include muffling the sound by covering the speaker while you shoot, using the headphone jack and shooting photos using your headphone as a shutter, using third-party camera apps instead of the iPhone’s default Camera app, and using the volume buttons on your iPhone as shutter buttons. For those shooting images legally and not violating anyone’s privacy in those countries, it’s worth a try.