Apple’s ProRAW camera feature is a powerful tool to have in your back pocket. A photo shot in ProRAW mode combines the same great post-processing flexibility of a traditional RAW file with the benefits of multi-frame computational photography. A bit of the best of both worlds! But once you’ve gone through the steps to enable it on your iPhone and snap your photo, the real work begins: processing it 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 virtually 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 image directly on your phone, using a third-party app or Apple’s own editing tools. Here’s how to go about it. (I followed these steps on an iPhone 14 Pro with iOS 16.3.1.)
You don’t need to download a separate app to edit ProRAW DNG files – Apple’s own Photos app does the job. A third-party app gives you a lot more control, but for quick and basic functions like increasing exposure, Apple’s app is fine.
- Open your RAW photo and tap edit at the top right of the screen
- If you’re viewing your image in the camera app’s gallery, the editing options will appear at the bottom of the screen
- Scroll through the customization options below your image and use the tools you want
- You can tap the three ring filter icon at the bottom of the screen to apply a filter. This is not to be confused with Apple’s photographic styles, which are “baked into” the shooting process
- If you need to rotate the photo, use the Crop tool, the icon at the bottom right of the editing window
- Crane Finished bottom right of your screen to save your changes. There’s no option to save it as a separate image, but you can always undo your changes to the original by opening it again in the Photos app, tapping the three-dot menu icon in the top right corner, and choosing Return to original.
Once you’ve edited your RAW file, you can use the Photos app’s sharing features to export a JPEG version of your image. You can email it, post it on Instagram or put it on your digital photo frame – it’s your choice.
How to export a ProRAW file from your iPhone
So what if you want to export the original RAW image? That’s a bit tricky. After making edits in the Photos app, you cannot easily share the original DNG file. The only exception is if you AirDropping your image to a Mac. If so, is there a way to send both the original file and a JPEG with your edits. Here’s how:
- Scroll to your photo in the Photos app and tap the share/export icon in the bottom left
- Crane Options at the top of the screen
- Switch All photo data on and press Finished
- Press Airdrop icon below the image and choose your destination
- On the Mac, tap To accept And Save to Downloads if requested. This creates a folder in Downloads containing both the DNG file and your edited JPEG.
If you’re not AirDropping to a Mac and want to save your DNG file elsewhere, you’ll need to make a copy of your edited RAW and undo the changes.
- In the Photos app, browse to your image and tap the menu icon with three dots top right
- Crane Duplicatethen tap the three-dot menu and select Return to original
- Press export icon bottom left and choose how you want to send your file
If you want a PNG or HEIF of your image instead of a JPEG, you’ll need to follow some extra steps. You can convert a raw 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 minimize compression, but it works. Here’s what to do:
- Scroll to the image in Apple Photos and tap the share/export icon
- Scroll down and tap Save to files
- Choose the folder you want to save to and tap To rescue
- Open the Files app and locate your image
- Long press on the image thumbnail and tap Quick actions
- Select Convert image
- Choose your format (JPEG, PNG or HEIF) and image size (Small, Medium, Large or Original)
- Your converted image will be saved in the same folder
Edit a ProRAW photo with a third-party app
If you have a photo editing app that you prefer to use instead of Photos, no problem. You can start by opening the Apple Photos app or by opening the photo editing app you want to use.
If you start in Photos, do the following:
- Find the image 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 More icon with three dots for additional options
- Exporting your RAW file this way will only work if you haven’t edited the photo in the Photos app. If you edited it there first, it will be exported as JPEG.
If you’d rather start in your photo editing app of choice, just follow that app’s procedure for importing a new image. For example indoors Snapseed – my favorite free editor – it’s just a matter of opening the app, tapping the plus icon and choose Open from device.