Press and hold « + » in Messages to upload images

iOS 17 lets you access the Photos picker in the Messages app much faster than hitting the + button to get to the hidden menu with the Photos option.

iPhone screenshots explaining how to get to the image picker faster
Holding the “+” button does the trick | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

You can simply press and hold the + (plus) icon in iOS 17’s Messages app to instantly access the Photos picker and upload images.

However, accessing the in-app camera now requires an extra step, as the camera icon is now hidden instead of setting on the left side of the text field.

Press and hold + in iOS 17’s Messages to upload images

Apple has removed the clunky app tray at the bottom of the Messages app in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17. Your installed iMessage apps—along with ]the image picker, camera, stickers, audio messaging and other features—have now been relegated behind the + (plus) icon on the left side of the text field.

Hitting it fans out these hidden options alongside the left edge. The change has tidied up the Messages interface as the new button replaces the old Camera and the App Store buttons. It might even make people use iMessage apps more often.

But because the Camera button is now hidden behind the + (plus) button, there’s now an extra step to access the image picker. Apple has fixed this in subsequent iOS 17 betas with a hidden shortcut—just touch and hold the + (plus) button to instantly open your Photos library to add images to your chat.

But at the same time, opening the in-app camera now requires touching the + (plus) button and then chooseing Camera from the vertical menu.

Apple hasn’t mentioned this functionality in the iOS 17 press release and elsewhere, but it certainly isn’t the only time-saving feature in iOS 17.

Other cool shortcuts in iOS 17

Closeup of the iPhone's camera level
The level feature in iOS 17’s Camera app! | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

The search feature in the Photos app lets you find specific sounds like “laughter” or “speech” in videos and live photos. Another example: You can turn on a hidden level in the Camera app to perfectly align your shots with the horizon line.

And now for my favorite tip: In system apps like Photos, TV and Podcasts, for example, you can access the search feature much faster by touching and holding the Search tab. Doing so will let you type instantly, saving you a step.

Using Photos search to find videos with specific sounds in them
Searching videos by specific sounds in them | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB

Apple will continue testing iOS 17 and other updates to its various operating systems over the summer, releasing them to the public sometime in the fall. The launch date of iOS 17 will probably be close to the rumored September 12 iPhone 15 event.

macOS Sonoma and tvOS 17 will drop around October when Apple might hold another event to unveil its new M3 Macs and the next Apple TV.

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