Capturing images on your iPhone has many advantages. The camera fits in your pocket, you have access to hundreds of apps for capturing and editing, and you’re always going to have it with you.
How to transfer photos from iPhone to computer (Windows or Mac) is the next step. We have all the information for that in this article.
To Wire or Not to Wire
To import photos from your iPhone, there are two ways you can do this with Apple’s Macs (sorry Windows). You can use a wire or use AirDrop, a wireless service already built into your OS (operating system).
The way you import your photos is down to you. Cables get in the way and inevitably break a lot faster than we think they should. They are the victims of wear and tear. You can also never find one when you need it.
Airdrop is convenient, but it takes some getting used to. I found it difficult to set up, as the two iOS devices (iPhone and iMac) didn’t find a way to communicate.
If you plan on using a cable, you will need to plug it into the USB port using your lightning cable. It’s the same cable you use to charge your phone.
How to Transfer Photos From iPhone to PC
iCloud Photo Library (Windows)
iCloud is Apple’s online data service. It does, in fact, let you store your entire photo collection.
If you didn’t touch this area of your phone, you probably got a bunch of warnings telling you that your cloud storage is full. We all went through this, as the photographs you take automatically go to the cloud.
The great thing about this service is that it automatically shares the images to your other devices. That is as long as you are signed in on them with the same Apple ID. The not so great thing is that this is a service that you need to pay for.
This is why you get those warnings – Apple gives you a very limited amount of space (5GB) for free.
First, ensure you switch on iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos. Switch on iCloud Photo Library to ensure your photos get stored in iCloud.
Next, make sure you have the iCloud For Windows software installed on your computer. If you don’t have it, click here to download it from the Apple website.
On your computer, open iCloud For Windows. Sign in with the same Apple ID as your iPhone. To switch on iCloud Photo Library, check the box next to Photos. Next, click Options next to Photos and check the iCloud Photo Library box.
If you want this interaction to happen automatically, check the Download New Photos And Videos To My PC box. To upload your photos to the iCloud automatically, check the Upload New Photos And Videos From My PC box.
To find these images on your computer, open File Explorer and then iCloud Photos from the pictures library. Simple.
Photos App (Windows)
On Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, you already have a great app to import photos to your PC. It is called (you guessed it) Photos App. With this method, you need to connect your iPhone to your computer via the USB cable.
Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your PC before you start. iTunes 12.5.1 or later is the minimum version you need.
Connect and unlock your iPhone. You may get a prompt asking if you Trust This Computer. Tap Allow or Trust to continue. Open the Photos app on your PC, then select Import. Select your device and click Continue.
By default, Windows will save your images into the Pictures library, but you can change this if you wish. When you are ready, click Import.
How to Transfer Photos From iPhone to Mac
iCloud Photo Library (Mac)
iCloud Photo Library and the iPhone work in harmony for seamless transferring of images across all devices. With the iCloud Photo Library enabled, the Photos app on your Mac will sync them all. New photos will pop up here.
To switch on iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos. When the iCloud Photo Library option is on, your entire photo library will upload to iCloud.
To use iCloud Photo Library, you’ll need to ensure you have enough iCloud storage. On your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage.
On your Mac, you’ll need to go to System Preferences > iCloud. Select the Photos checkbox, then click Options next to Photos. Select the iCloud Photo Library check box, then click Done and close the window.
when you switch on iCloud Photo Library, you’ll need to wait a while for the images to sync between your iPhone and Mac. when they are synced, your Mac will display everything as it is on your phone.
They are exact copies of each other. If you delete an image on your phone, it will delete it from your Mac, and vise versa. To delete images from your phone but keep them on your Mac, you need to export them to your hard drive by selecting them.
Click File>Export>Export Photos. After setting your export preferences, click Export. Make sure to choose an appropriate and rememberable folder to export to.
NB: iCloud Photo Library is different to iCloud Photo Sharing. If you want to share your photos with other people, iCloud Photo Sharing is the perfect option.
Photos App (Mac)
the Photos app on the Mac is a great place to export your images to if you don’t want all of that automatic malarkey. Using the Photos app means you import manually.
Connect your iPhone to your Mac via the lightning/charging cable. Open the Photos app on your Mac. Under Import on the left-hand sidebar, click iPhone. Unlock your phone if need be.
Select the images you want to copy from your iPhone, then click Import Selected. your imported photos will appear in the Last Import album and the All Photos album in the left-hand sidebar.
To copy these images to a folder on your Mac, or external hard drive, go to File>Export>Export Photos.
Image Capture App (Mac)
Image Capture on the Mac is my favourite way to import photos from my iPhone to my Mac. Actually, it’s my go-to way to import images from any device to my Mac, and I even have it set up to open when a new device is recognised.
This process is no-nonsense. It shows you the images, which you can select, and then move to any folder on your Mac or external hard drive. If like me, you take a lot of images that required different folders, this might be the easiest way to organise and import.
I dislike the Photos app, as I am worried about not backing up correctly and deleting something important.
To import using Image Capture, connect your phone via the lightning/charging cable. open the Image Capture app on your Mac, and unlock your phone if need be.
Select iPhone in the Devices section on the left of the window and your images will appear in the main window.
Select your images by pressing Ctrl + A for all, or use the Command key to select individual images. For a group of images, click the first photo, then hold Shift, and click on the last photo. This will select the range of images between the first and last.
The Import To box at the bottom of the left sidebar will direct you to where you will save the images. Then click Import.
With Apple’s Airdrop, you can share images wirelessly across other devices in close proximity. This can be your tablet or Mac, or even someone else’s iPhone. This is the best way to share full-size images and videos quickly and easily.
To use Airdrop, ensure your iPhone has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on. You can do this in the Settings area of your iPhone. If you swipe up on your device, you can access both of these faster than you can say ‘Bluetooth was a futuristic pirate!’
Lastly, ensure you are logged into iCloud using your Apple ID -they need to be the same on both devices.
On your iPhone, you can sign in to iCloud by going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud. On your Mac, go to System Preferences > iCloud.
Open the Photos app on your iPhone and locate the images you want to copy. Tap Select at the top right, then select the photos you want to transfer. Tap the Share icon (square with up arrow) at the bottom left of the screen.
In the Airdrop section, you’ll see the names of the nearby Apple devices. For them to show up, they also need to have Airdrop switched on. Tap the name of your Mac to import photos from your iPhone.
These images transferred will appear in your Downloads folder. Open Finder, then click Downloads. Here, you are free to move the images to another location of your choice.
And there you have it. A few simple steps and your images are now transferred to your PC or Mac.
Now you know how to transfer photos from iPhone to computer, you can backup, share or further edit your images. Never worry about losing your phone or accidentally deleting something again!
For more great tips for iPhone users, check out our complete guide to smartphone photography or macro iPhone photography.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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