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5 Fun Ways to Use Your Smartphone Photos

Use your saved memories to create jigsaw puzzles, magnets, slideshows

spinner image A man and a woman look at a smartphone while standing on a dock in a lake near mountains
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You’ve taken hundreds or even thousands of photos with your smartphone.

The problem is that those images are trapped on that digital device. Sound familiar?

Oh, sure, you’ve uploaded a couple of photos to Facebook. Or you’ve turned a great shot of the grandkids into wallpaper for your laptop, phone or tablet. Or maybe you’ve even printed the odd one for a photo frame on a counter, desk or table.

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But for the most part, your smartphone has become a digital shoebox.

Instead, why not free all of these memories and have a little fun with them in the process? Along with scrapbooking, here are five ideas you can use to appreciate your photos in exciting and creative ways.

1. Jigsaw puzzles

Pick your favorite photo and create a jigsaw puzzle to play on your computer, tablet or smartphone. This is a breeze with free apps like Jigsaw Puzzle Collection HD for iPhone, iPad and other tablets; Jigsaw Puzzles Epic for Android, iOS, Mac and PC; or Jigsaw Planet for Mac and PC.

All three allow you to import the photos you’ve stored on your device. Choose the number of pieces, whether the pieces should rotate (which makes the puzzle more difficult) and other options.

2. Photo fridge magnets

Proudly display your memories in a place you visit several times a day: your fridge.

Do this by purchasing magnetic sheets of paper at an office-supply store or website, usually found for less than $15 for a pack of five. The sheets then can then be fed through any regular inkjet printer.

Cut them to the appropriate size and shape and have fun dressing up your fridge door with photos of those who matter to you.

Pro tip: Make magnets and include them in birthday and holiday cards to friends and family.

3. Slideshows

Not only can you enjoy your photos on your big-screen TV instead of a small smartphone screen, you can add music, narration, transition sequences and special effects.

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While smartphone apps are available that can do this, it’s easier to transfer the images to a computer and create a sentimental slideshow using websites like Adobe Creative Cloud Express (formerly Adobe Spark), which also allows short video clips, or PixTeller Slideshow Maker; or apps such as Photos, which is built into Windows 10 and Windows 11, or iMovie, included with Macs. When you’re done, you can upload it to social media sites like Facebook or YouTube or copy it to a USB drive and insert into a TV.

4. Photobooks, cards, posters

Don’t forget that the web offers places to upload your photos to create personalized gifts such as aprons, business cards, calendars, coffee mugs, hardcover albums, huge canvases, mouse pads, playing cards, stationery and T-shirts that can be sent to your door.

Popular services include Amazon Prints, Mixbook, Shutterfly and Snapfish for hardcover books. You can upload photos from a computer, phone or tablet and receive the custom creation a few days later.

5. Edits, filters and effects

Take advantage of your smartphone's built-in editing tools or have fun with apps — such as the free Snapseed, now owned by Google, or Photoleap by Lightricks — to easily adjust light and color and remove unwanted subjects. You can add filters and other special effects, too, such as making your photos look like vintage black-and-white or sepia-toned shots or ’70s Polaroids, Andy Warhol-inspired prints, impressionist paintings or stained glass windows.

Experiment away. It won’t overwrite your original photos.

This story, originally published Nov. 18, 2019, has been updated to delete outdated services

Turn an old tablet into a photo frame

Enjoying all of those memories of family, friends and pets is tough if the images are stuck on a smartphone.

Why not turn an old tablet into a digital photo frame for your kitchen counter, home office desk, family room end table — or even mounted to a wall in your hallway?

Use what you have. Most tablet operating systems, such as Android and iOS, have integrated photo gallery apps that can cycle through all your photos and videos every few seconds, minutes or hours.

You can store your memories on the phone or tablet's internal memory, or if you’re online, link to one of the many free photo services you can update on the fly.

Or add an app. For additional features, choose digital photo frame apps such as the free Fotoo app for Android tablets or LiveFrame for iOS.

Both of these apps also can pull images from social feeds, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sources.

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