Taking a decent selfie is difficult enough, but when you tap the shutter button and check the finished article you’ll notice one more issue: the photo has been flipped, mirror-image-style, from the composition you lined up.
If that’s an irritation you’d like to solve, you’ve come to the right place. In this article we explain why the phone is flipping your selfies, how to take a selfie that doesn’t get flipped, and how to flip or unflip any iPhone photo.
Why do selfies get flipped?
This may blow your mind, but the truth is that selfies don’t really get flipped when you take the shot: they get unflipped.
Before selfies came along, most of the sights we’d get of our own faces would be in mirrors and other reflective surfaces – surfaces that produce reflections with left and right reversed. Tech designers often choose to imitate pre-digital experiences in order to make their products more intuitive to use, and so it was with the cameraphone: when you switch to the front-facing camera, your phone shows you a mirror image, because that’s what you expect to see.
Once you press the shutter, however, it is felt that mirroring is no longer necessary or desirable. The final photo will be returned to the correct, unflipped composition, because that is what the camera ‘saw’. That final image is what you really looked like at the moment the photo was taken.
It’s a bit of a fudge, but on the whole this is probably the best way of organising things. If the viewfinder showed an unflipped image, we’d all find it strange (waving your left hand would move the hand on the other side of the screen, for instance). But it would similarly be strange if the finished photo remained flipped – all the photos other people took of you would have your hair parted on one side, but all your selfies would show it parted on the other.
As broadly logical as it is, however, many people don’t like the current system – and Apple doesn’t let you turn off either the flipping or the unflipping in iOS’s Settings.
Fortunately iOS 13 added an easy way to flip (or unflip) an iPhone selfie, so we can easily fix the problem. If you haven’t updated your device to iOS 13, we will have to seek other solutions.
Flipping an iPhone selfie in iOS 13
Open the Photos app and select the selfie. Tap Edit, then tap the little crop tool (two intersecting right angles).
At this point Photos is likely to apply some minor reframing edits automatically; they will probably improve the shot but if not, tap the yellow AUTO button at the top to remove them. Finally, tap the icon at the top left – the triangles. This will flip the selfie. Tap it again to unflip.
There you go: it’s as simple as that.
How to take a selfie that doesn’t get flipped
If you don’t want selfie shots to be flipped in the first place, we’ll need to use a third-party app. The free app Mirror, as the name suggests, is simply designed to provide you with a mirrored image of yourself.
So far, so dull – that’s exactly what the Camera app does when you activate selfie mode. The difference is that when you tap the screen you take a photo that remains mirrored – exactly what you saw while composing the image. At this point you’ll be able to save or share it directly with friends and family.
Mirror has adverts, but these can be removed for a one-off payment of £2.99/$2.99.
Flip/unflip iPhone selfies in iOS 12 and earlier
If you’re still running iOS 12 or earlier, you might be wondering if there’s a way for you to edit your current photo. It’s not as easy as in iOS 13, but there’s an app for that.
The free Adobe Photoshop Express gives you the ability to mirror selfies at the touch of a button, along with a host of other editing features.
From the image selection screen, tap the photo you want to flip. Tap the crop tool from the bar along the bottom (second from the left: it looks like two overlapping right angles), then select Rotate, and finally Flip Horizontal. Tap the sharing icon at the top right and save the edited snap to your camera roll.
There are also plenty of other great camera and photo editing apps for iPhone that will give you the option to flip selfies to appear mirrored, so check them out if you want a few more options.