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How to turn on your iPhone’s camera flash

You’ll want this for some photos.

iphone 13 pro camera
Image: KnowTechie

The Camera app on your iPhone has gained more features over the years, but one of the earliest “features” is the camera flash. With so many features, you might not know where to turn for such a basic thing, so we’ll show you how to turn on your iPhone’s camera flash.

The flash is set to auto mode when you first get an iPhone. That said, you might want to override that default setting so that the flash is always triggered. Usually, that’ll be for video use as a fill light, but it also works in some situations for taking photos.

Many photographers turn it off entirely, as the light being right next to the lens can create unwanted effects. Plus, Night Sight is magical and the flash doesn’t work with it.

We’ll show you how to turn on your camera flash. The same settings menu is also used to set it to off, or to auto, where the iPhone decides if there is enough light or if it needs the LED flash.

How to turn on the camera flash for newer iPhones

Every iPhone since the iPhone 11 uses this method to change the flash settings:

  1. Open the Camera app
iphone camera app icon on an iphone 11
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Swipe away from the shutter button
screenshot of iphone camera showing to swipe away from the shutter button to get to settings
Image: KnowTechie
  1. You can also tap the arrow icon on the other side of the screen
screenshot of iphone camera app showing to tap the arrow icon at the top to get to settings
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap the Flash icon
screenshot of iphone camera app showing the flash icon
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap the On button to make your iPhone always use the LED flash
screenshot of iphone camera app showing the always on setting for camera flash
Image: KnowTechie

READ MORE: How to change iPhone alert sounds and ringtones

This will make it so your iPhone will always use the flash. Depending on your level of ambient light, it might be better to use the built-in Night Mode but that’s a decision you’ll have to make before taking the shot.

This setting will persist if you close the camera app. Turning flash to always-on will also enable the front screen flash when taking selfies with the front camera.

Enable flash as a fill light for video recording

While you’re recording video in either the Video, Slo-Mo, or Cinematic modes, you can use the flash as an always-on fill light. Here’s how:

  1. Swipe away from the record button to show the flash icon
screenshot of iphone camera app with arrows showing to swipe up from the record button
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on the flash icon
screenshot of iphone camera app showing flash icon
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Pick Flash On to set it to always-on
screenshot of iphone camera app showing flash always on option
Image: KnowTechie

It’ll turn on straight away, even if you’re not actively recording. The LED flash will turn off if you swipe away from the Camera app, so you’ll have to enable it again if you still need it.

The iPhone camera flash won’t work in Pano (Panorama) and Time-Lapse modes.

Enable flash on an older iPhone

iphone se on black background
Image: Unsplash

Older iPhones with a Home button have a separate set of steps to enable the flash.

  1. Open the Camera app
  1. Tap the flash icon at the top-left
  1. Tap the On icon

That’s the same sequence if you’re in the Photo, Video, or Slo-Mo modes.

If your iPhone is a 6S or later, this also makes your screen flash white when you take selfies with the front camera.

Just what do those flash icons mean on my iPhone?

from left, icons for iphone camera flash showing off, auto, and always states
Image: KnowTechie

Your iPhone’s Camera app will show the current state of the flash at the top left corner. Those states are:

  • Off: When the flash is set to never, the flash icon has a slash through and is white
  • Auto: When the flash is set to auto, it has no slash, and the icon is white
  • Always: When the flash is set to Always, the flash icon will be filled-in yellow

Now you know how to find the flash settings on your iPhone. You can also turn the flash off, or set it to Auto and let your iPhone manage things.

We’ve found that since Night Mode came to the iPhone, we’ve not had to use our LED flash. Not even once. Maybe that will change if we do more video work, but it’s nice to know that the option is still there.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek. Hardware guy here at KnowTechie, if it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't) I probably have one around here somewhere. My hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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