10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your GoPro

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your GoPro
Photo: Brent Rose/Gizmodo

If you’re looking for a compact filming device that you can take just about anywhere, GoPro action cameras are still a go-to — they’re a lot easier to mount to a helmet or a surfboard than a smartphone, after all. Whether you’re just getting started with your GoPro or you’ve used it extensively, these tips should help you discover more of the camera’s capabilities.

These will work on the latest GoPro (the Hero9 Black at the time of writing), but many also apply to quite a few of the older models as well. If you’re unsure, check online or in the documentation that came with your device.

1. Change the Field of View

GoPros are known for their wide-angle shots, but you don’t always need a particularly wide field of view (FOV). Tap the W in the bottom right-hand corner of the LCD display to make changes, and to fit more or less into the frame once you start the actual filming.

The basics of FOV aren’t difficult to grasp, with a narrower setting giving you a more focused look at the action, almost like zooming in (which is also available). If you want to get rid of the fish-eye effect completely, choose one of the linear or narrow options.

2. Find a Lost Camera

If your GoPro camera has disappeared somewhere in your vicinity in the last few minutes, there’s a way of tracking it down. From the GoPro/Quik app on your smartphone, tap the wrench icon, then enable the Locate Camera toggle switch.

Your GoPro will start beeping, if it’s nearby and still connected, which should alert you to its whereabouts. Obviously this is rather limited in terms of range and time, but it’s a handy trick to know if you’ve put your camera down somewhere and can’t find it.

There's a Locate Camera option in the GoPro/Quik app. (Screenshot: GoPro) There’s a Locate Camera option in the GoPro/Quik app. (Screenshot: GoPro)

3. Improve Battery Life

As with any other gadget, you’ll want to get as much battery life out of your GoPro as possible, and the battery level on the device can drain reasonably quickly with two LCD screens and a camera to power, even if you’re not actually doing any recording.

From Preferences, you can dial down the screen brightness and timeout delay (under Displays), and turn off GPS (under Regional). Tap Connections to disable the link to your phone and other devices, which should help you eke out even more battery life.

4. Access the Protune Settings

If you want to go beyond the default settings that you get with your GoPro out of the box, then you’ll want to make use of the various Protune settings. They give you more manual control when it comes to white balance, colour profiles, ISO limit, sharpness and exposure.

On the latest cameras, tap the preset that’s currently activated on the rear LCD screen, then scroll down and tap the + icon to add a new one. Among the standard settings for the preset, you’ll see a Protune section that includes the advanced features we’ve mentioned.

5. Create Your Own Presets

If you know there are certain settings that you rely on, from the field of view to the white balance, then save them as a preset. That way, you can restore a previous configuration in a couple of taps.

To set up your own preset configuration, tap whatever one is active on the LCD screen on the rear, then tap the + icon to build a new one. Resolution, frame rate, and duration limits are all available, and when you’re done you’ll have to give your preset a name.

You don't have to settle for the default presets that your GoPro gives you. (Screenshot: GoPro) You don’t have to settle for the default presets that your GoPro gives you. (Screenshot: GoPro)

6. Control Your GoPro With Your Voice

We’re all used to talking to smart speakers and smartphones, and you can command your GoPro action camera with your voice, too. To enable the feature, swipe down on the display at the back of your camera, then tap the voice command icon if it’s not already turned on.

There’s a full list of commands you can use here (and under Voice Control and Commands in Preferences on your actual camera), but you can issue commands such as, “GoPro start recording,” and, “GoPro photo mode,” to trigger actions.

7. Film for Social Media

The latest GoPro camera models let you film in either vertical or portrait mode, suitable for all the social media channels you’re pushing out content too. The usual GoPro extras, including the wide-angle field of view, can still be applied.

Turn your camera on its side to switch. If you start filming vertically, the camera sticks with it until you stop. To lock yourself in vertical mode when framing shots before capturing, swipe down on the screen and tap the orientation lock icon (a square with arrows).

8. Mark Highlights As You Go

When you’re recording, you can press the mode button on the side of your GoPro to mark a particular highlight. That means it’s going to be easier to find later on when you’re reviewing the footage on your smartphone or through the camera’s built-in browser.

If you have voice control enabled (see above), you can also say, “GoPro highlight” to get the same result, and highlights can be added later on through the GoPro/Quik app on your phone, too. If you’re using the auto edit function, then highlights will get marked.

With a GoPro subscription, your content can be automatically uploaded. (Screenshot: GoPro) With a GoPro subscription, your content can be automatically uploaded. (Screenshot: GoPro)

9. Automatically Upload to the Cloud

Here’s a good time-saver: Your GoPro can start transferring footage of your day’s adventures to the cloud as soon as you put it on charge in reach of your home wifi — as long as you’re paying out $7 a month or $70 a year for a GoPro Plus subscription, that is.

You need to do the initial setup through the GoPro/Quik app on your phone, so your camera knows which wifi network to use, but after that it all happens in the background. The charger must be at least a 5V 1A one, and your original files will stay in place.

10. Add Even More Features

You can enroll in the GoPro Labs program if your camera is on the list of compatible models (which includes the Hero9 Black and the Hero8 Black). It works in a similar way to any other beta program, giving you early access to experimental software features.

Some of the cool preview features available at the time of writing include starting recording when motion is detected, having the option of a single-button capture mode, and QR code control. You’ll need to follow the instructions to install the Labs update.