Apple’s ProRAW camera feature is a powerful tool in your back pocket. An image shot in ProRAW mode combines both the great post-processing flexibility of a traditional RAW file with the benefits of multi-frame computational photography. Kind of the best of both worlds! But when you do go through the steps to enable it on your iPhone and your photo is taken, that’s when the real work begins: processing and converting it to a shareable format like JPEG, PNG, or HEIF.
ProRAW files are saved in Adobe’s ubiquitous DNG format, which is compatible with almost every RAW photo editing app under the sun. That means you have many options, including just sending the file to a computer and using desktop software. But you don’t need access to a computer — you can process your photo right on your phone, either with a third-party app or Apple’s own editing tools. Here’s how to do it. (I followed these steps on an iPhone 14 Pro running iOS 16.3.1.)
Editing and sharing ProRAW photos with Apple Photos
You don’t need to download a separate app to edit ProRAW DNG files — Apple’s own Photos app will do the job. A third-party app will give you more control, but for quick and basic functions like exposure boosting, Apple’s app is just fine.
- Open your RAW photo and tap edit at the top right of the screen
- If you’re viewing your photo in the camera app’s gallery, editing options will appear at the bottom of the screen
- Scroll through the adjustment options below your photo and use the tools you want
- You can tap the filter icon with three rings at the bottom of the screen to apply a filter. It should not be confused Apple Photographic Styleswhich is “baked in” to the acquisition process
- If you need to rotate the image, use the crop tool, the icon at the bottom right of the editing pane
- Tap Finished at the bottom right of your screen to save your changes. There’s no option to save it as a separate photo, but you can revert your changes to the original at any time by opening it again in the Photos app, tapping the three-dot menu icon in the top right, and choice Back to Original.
Once you’ve edited your RAW file, you can use the Photos app’s sharing functions to export a JPEG version of your photo. You can email it, post it on Instagram, or put it in your digital picture frame — the choice is yours.
How to export a ProRAW file from your iPhone
What if you want to export the original RAW image? That’s a bit confusing. Once you’ve edited in the Photos app, you can’t easily share the original DNG file. The only exception is if you are AirDropping your photo to a Mac. If that’s the case, there’s a way to send both the original file and a JPEG along with your edits. Like this:
- Scroll to your photo in the Photos app and tap the share / export icon in the bottom left
- Tap Choices at the top of the screen
- Toggle All Image Data on and press Finished
- Tap on Airdrop icon below the image and select your destination
- On a Mac, tap Accept and Save on Downloads when prompted. This creates a folder in Downloads with the DNG file and your edited JPEG.
If you’re not AirDropping on a Mac and want to save your DNG file somewhere else, you’ll need to make a copy of your edited RAW and restore the changes.
- In the Photos app, scroll to your photo and tap menu icon with three dots in the upper right
- Tap Copythen tap the three-dot menu and select Back to Original
- Tap on export icon in the bottom left and choose how you want to send your file
If you want a PNG or HEIF of your photo instead of a JPEG, you need to follow some additional steps. You can convert an unedited DNG directly or make your edits in Apple Photos first and then convert the resulting JPEG to a PNG or HEIF — not ideal if you want to reduce compression, but it works. Here’s what to do:
- Scroll through the photo in Apple Photos and tap the share/export icon
- Scroll down and tap Save to Files
- Select the folder you want to save and tap Save
- Open the Files app and find your photo
- Touch and hold the photo thumbnail and tap Fast action
- Choose Convert the image
- Choose your format (JPEG, PNG, or HEIF) as well as image size (Small, Medium, Large, or Original)
- Your converted image will be saved in the same folder
Editing a ProRAW image with a third-party app
If you have a photo-editing app you prefer to use instead of Photos, that’s no problem. You can start by either opening the Apple Photos app or by opening the photo editing app you want to use.
If you start with Photos, do the following:
- Find the photo you want to edit and tap the export / share icon at the bottom left of the screen
- Scroll through the suggested app icons just below the image. If your editor is there, tap the icon to open your file in the app
- If you don’t see the app icon you’re looking for, tap three dots More icon for more options
- Exporting your RAW file this way will only work if you haven’t made any edits to the photo in the Photos app. If you edit it there first, it will be exported as a JPEG.
If you prefer to start with your photo editing app of choice, simply follow that app’s procedure for importing a new photo. For example, in Snapseed — my favorite free editor — that’s just a matter of opening the app, tapping on plus icon and choice Open from Device.