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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Finding, Exploring and Labeling Your Photos

December 21, 2022 | Leave a Comment

by Kathy Austin

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Rowan, a yellow lab, and Weller, are two of Kathy's guide dogs

Rowan, a yellow lab, and Weller, a black lab, are two of Kathy’s guide dogs


Around the holidays, I like to send a letter to my guide dogs puppy raisers. Included in the letter are photos of the dogs I have taken throughout the year. Finding those photos in the photo library has always been a challenge to do independently. But Apple’s Photo app has made searching for specific photos a little easier. Here’s some ways you can search, explore and label your photos using VoiceOver. This will allow you to better organize and share your shots.


Finding your photo

  • Open the photos app
  • Double Tap on the Search button located in the Tool Bar on the bottom right hand side of the screen
  • Double Tap on one of the categories listed

You may see categories like winter, beach or house. The search results will provide a list of photos relevant to the category you chose. You can also type a key word into the search field, such as dog or a date or place you have visited.

When the search results are displayed, VoiceOver will announce the number of photos in that category. Unfortunately, as you swipe to the right through the list of photos, VoiceOver only says “Photo” with no other identifying details. Double Tap a photo in the listto select the photo and get the date and time it was taken.


Exploring the image

  • Perform a one-finger Swipe Up on a selected photo and receive three options: Explore Image, Show Details and Activate
  • Double Tap on the Explore Image option, then drag your finger across the screen
  • VoiceOver will tell you what is in the photo and where it is on the screen

If you choose the Activate option, VoiceOver will automatically give a full explanation of what is in the picture. For example, one of the categories in my list was “fireplace.” VoiceOver told me there was a sofa, table and a television with six people in the photo.  By the date, I can tell this photo was taken on Thanksgiving with my family in front of the fireplace.

A three-finger single tap on the photo is supposed to have VoiceOver describe the photo. In my testing, I find this feature to be finicky and worked only occasionally.


Labeling your photo

  • With your photo selected, Double Tap on the Info button in the Tool Bar at the bottom of the screen
  • Type or dictate a name or description in the Edit box labeled caption
  • Double Tap on the Done button when finished

I noted that sometimes the app will suggest a title for your photo or video. A suggestion was made for a video I made with my grandson at the park. They suggested “Slide at the Park” as an appropriate title – a pretty good description and a nice feature in case I couldn’t tell by the sound in the video.


More options

If you are a camera buff, activating the Info button in the tool bar to the left of the search button, provides a lot more info about your photo. You will find details like resolution, dimensions, aperture, shutter speed and much more. This same information can be obtained by Swiping Up on the selected photo and choosing “More Details.”

At the bottom of the screen in the Tool Bar, you can also Share, Favorite or Delete the photo. The Sharing feature helps me send the photos to my Drop Box account so I have the photos I want all in one place.  You can also send a photo via email or text message using the Sharing feature.

One note. I tested this app on an iPhone 8 and not yet updated to iOS 16. You may have better results with a newer device and updated OS.

If you want to be a pro at finding and organizing your photos, don’t miss our Thursday, January 5 Apple Exchange.  Richard Stauder, our assistive technology instructor,  is sharing his experiences and tips on using the Photos app!

Kathy is the Community Engagement Specialist at Second Sense

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