How to access the media in your Photos library on iPhone and iPad from inside Messages

Apple has removed the media picker from iOS 12’s Messages app. Thankfully, you are still able to access the photographs, videos, Slo-Mo clips, Portrait shots and other items stored in the Photos library on your iPhone or iPad—thanks to an all-new dedicated iMessage app.

This is one of a slew of new features and enhancements in iOS 12.


  • iOS 12 has removed the photo picker from the Messages app
  • Media attachments are now handled via a dedicated iMessage app
  • The official extension is available in Messages’ app tray
  • It lets you pick any item from Photos library and supports Siri suggestions
  • The extension cannot be disabled

This is a major change from the previous implementation (that debuted with iOS 10) where tapping the camera icon in a message conversation would bring up a panel combining the mini-viewfinder and thumbnails of your recently saved images from the Photos library.

How to access Photos library in iOS Messages

To access your Photos library from within Messages, do the following:

1) Open the Messages app on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 12.

2) Tap a message conversation or create a new chat.

3) If you see the arrow on the lefthand side of the text field, tap it.

4) Tap the App Store icon on the lefthand side of the text field to reveal the app tray.

5) Swipe across the app tray to find the Photos icon, then tap it.

6) Swipe left and right, then tap a thumbnail to attach the underlying item.

You can choose multiple attachments, one by one. To send the attached media item(s), tap the blue Send button that has an upwardly-pointed arrow on it.




TIP: If you don’t want to send the item, tap the “x” in the attachment’s upper-right corner.

The old way of doing things had its benefits because you could get to your image library with fewer taps. As an example, after hitting that camera icon you could either take a new photo or choose an existing image from a strip next to the viewfinder.



A closer look at Photos’ iMessage app

The Photos extension includes these additional features.

  • Recent Photos—Show the recently added media from your library
  • All Photos—Pick an album or browse your entire library
  • Fullscreen—Take the extension fullscreen

To attach an image or video you snapped up a while ago, tap All Photos in the extension’s top-right corner and swipe up to go fullscreen, then choose a media item from one of the built-in albums, like Selfies or Live Photos, or tap one of your own albums.

To browse everything in the Photos library, tap All Photos.



Pick an item, then tap Choose to attach it or Cancel to abort the operation.

Personally, I like the change because it helps clean up the cluttered Messages interface a bit

Apple how to

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