When you receive photos and videos in the Messages app, for some reason, Apple doesn't then save them to your photo library in the same way it does with WhatsApp and similar other services. This can make finding those photos again tricky so it is far from ideal, but at least this has been addressed in a small way with the iOS 15 update.
We are here to show you some simple ways to save images sent via text message into your Photos library - and the best way to get have them automatically added.
How to use Shared with You in iOS 15
One of the most helpful features Apple introduced with iOS 15 is the Shared with You section. This shows all the images, videos, music tracks, podcasts and other items you have received in Messages from various iPhone apps.
This makes finding your photos and videos easy as you just need to follow these steps
- Open Photos
- Tap the For You option at the bottom of the screen
- Scroll down to the Shared with You section
- Tap See All.
At the time of writing though, the feature didn't seem to be working, with multiple reports of problems (see this Reddit post) and our own tests resulting in none of the photos we expected to see in the Shared with You section actually showing up.
As one poster suggests in the Reddit post above, perhaps the phone needs to be plugged in before it will index Photos, hence these images only appearing after the iPhone has been plugged in for a sufficient amount of time.
Hopefully, Apple will have fixed the bug by time you read this, as they seem to have done with the other error that was causing images to be deleted.
How to save a photo or video from Messages
As mentioned above, Apple made some tweaks in iOS 15 that change the way you can save photos received in Messages. Below, we outline this new way as well as the traditional method for those using iOS 14 or earlier.
How to save Messages photos in iOS 15
With iOS 15, when an image is shown in your conversation, you'll see that there is a download icon to its right which looks like a box with a downward facing arrow inside.
If you have been sent several images at once, which Messages now displays as a stack (as shown below), you will the download icon beside them.
- Tap on the download icon.
- This will open up the Save Photos option. If you have been sent a set of photos and you tap on the Save Photos option then it will save all of the photos at once.
- Should you only want to choose one, then you just need to tap and hold that image to open it, then select the Save option.
- When this is done, you should now be able to find the images in the Photos app. You'll find them in the Recents album.
- If you tap on one of these images in your Photos library you will see who shared it with you.
How to save Messages photos in iOS 14 or earlier
If you are still using iOS 14, here's what to do if someone has sent you a photo or video that you'd like to add to your Photos library on your iPhone:
- Open the Messages app on your iPhone and find the conversation that contains the images or videos you want to save.
- Tap on the conversation to open it, then scroll until you find the relevant image.
- Press and hold on the image until you see a pop up of options including Copy and Save. Tap on Save.
This will add the image to your Photo Library - it will be the last image added.
Alternatively tap to open the image and tap the share icon in the bottom left. You will then be able to choose to Save Image.
How to save older photos from Messages
If someone sent the image a while ago you won't want to scroll back through weeks or months (or more) of messages. Luckily it is easy to see all of the images a particular person (or group of people in a Group Message) have sent you, so you can find images that you were sent months or even years ago easily. Once you have located them adding them to your Photos library is similarly simple.
These are the steps to take. Bear in mind that they might vary ever so slightly, depending on the version of iOS running on your iPhone.
For iOS 15 users, here are the steps to take:
- Open up a conversation with the person whose images you want to locate.
- Tap on their profile image at the top of the page.
- Scroll down to the Photos section and tap See All.
- Find the image you want, then tap and hold it until the menu appears.
- Tap the Save option to have the image deposited in your Photo Library.
If you're on iOS 14 or earlier, then the process is a little different, so follow the steps below:
- If the image wasn't recently sent you will be able to locate it more quickly if you tap on the senders name at the top. This should reveal the i symbol (info).
- Tap on i and you will see all the images and videos sent in that message thread.
- This will reveal the last four videos and photos that were sent. If you want to see more tap on See All Photos.
- There are two tabs, Photos and Screenshots. Videos are included in Photos. This will be all the photos they have sent to you, but also the photos and videos that you sent them. If you only want to save one photo tap on it.
- Now tap on the share icon in the bottom left corner.
- Finally tap on Save Image.
This will add that image to your Photo library.
How to save multiple photos from Messages
It's quite likely that you have someone you frequently share images with. If you want to save a lot of these to your Camera Roll there is an easy way. Go to a conversation with them, tap their profile icon at the top of the page and do the following:
- As above tap on the i or for iOS 15 users skip to the next step.
- To reveal all the images tap on See All Photos.
- Tap on Select in the top right.
- Now each photo will gain a selector circle. Tap on each photo you want to select it.
- Once you have all the images selected tap on Save in the bottom left corner.
Now, when you open the Photos app you should see that the image or images have been added to your collection.
There you go! A few simple steps to add photos from text messages into your collection.
But what if you want them to go straight to the Photos app?
How to share photos so they go straight to the Photos app
Apple for some reason doesn't seem to want to let us have photos sent via Messages to automatically appear in the Photos app. This might be because photos take up a lot of space and duplicating them in this way could be wasteful.
Luckily there are some other ways to share photos so that they will appear in the Photos app.
If you are with the person who has the photos you want in your photo library ask them to AirDrop them to you. That way they will automatically appear in the Photos app.
It's easy to AirDrop:
- You will both need to have AirDrop turned on (it's on by default so it most likely is on). You will also need to make sure that AirDrop is set to receive from Contacts Only or Everyone. To check that AirDrop is on open Control Panel, press in the middle of the four icons that include Airplane Mode and Wi-FI. This will open a pane with AirDrop included.
- Open Photos on the sending device. If they are just sending one photo, locate and tap it, then tap the share icon.
- If you want to send more than one, hit Select, tick multiple photos, then hit the sharing icon.
- You'll now see the photo(s) to send at the top of the screen, and various sharing options below. Tap the icon for the receiving device in the AirDrop section and, hey presto, the photo(s) will be sent.
If the person with the photos isn't with you then the best way to get the photos added straight to your Photo library is to use the app Whatsapp.
You'll both need to install Whatsapp on your devices (luckily the app works on iPhones, Android, and so on). You will also need to register your numbers.
Now you can send photos to each other and the images will go straight to your photo library.