How to use the iPad's Picture Frame mode

If you've got an iPad stand or dock, you've got everything you need to turn that big, beautiful screen into an animated photo frame.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

The iPad's Picture Frame option--available right from the Lock Screen--turns it into one helluva photo frame. Rick Broida/CNET

I'll admit it: I'm not using my iPad much. Maybe that's because I was already an iPhone user, and that continues to be my go-to device for e-mail, e-books, Facebook, and the like. Or maybe it's because I just haven't found enough killer apps yet.

Whatever, the case, I'm finding I enjoy the device more when I'm looking at it than when I'm touching it. That's because I've discovered Picture Frame, which turns that big, beautiful screen into a splendid animated photo frame.

Perhaps you've noticed the little picture icon that appears alongside the "slide to unlock" tool when you turn on your iPad. One tap, and presto, the photo slideshow begins. Then just rest your iPad in your stand or dock and enjoy the show. (Don't have one? Here are five dirt-cheap iPad stands you can buy or build.)

Apple doesn't give you many options for tweaking Picture Frame, but what's there is good. Rick Broida/CNET

By default, Picture Frame plays through all the photos stored on your iPad, dissolving from one to another every three seconds or so. However, there are some settings you can and should adjust.

To access them, tap the Settings icon, and then tap Picture Frame. I'm a big fan of using both shuffle and zoom in on faces; the latter crops photos so you see mostly heads, great if your photos are primarily of family and friends. If they're heavily scenic, however, you may want to turn this mode off.

The iPad's screen is so large, it seems almost a shame to show just one picture at a time. That's where the Origami transition comes in: it displays two to four photos at a time, then shuffles them with one of several cool effects.

Finally, as you'd expect, the "app" lets you choose what photos to display: all of them (including screenshots), or just those in selected albums.

My one and only complaint with Picture Frame is that you can't change the photo duration. Origami mode in particular sometimes flips photos after just a second or two. Too fast! And, hey, a few other transition options might be nice. Zoom and pan, anyone?

Even so, this is such a cool way to use your iPad--especially when you're not actually using it. If you haven't tried it, you're missing out.

Tune in tomorrow when I'll round up some other great ways to use a docked iPad--including an app that's a better picture frame than Picture Frame.