Transfer Photos from Computer to iPhone: 8 Methods

Transferring photos from your PC/Mac to your iPhone or iPad may be confusing at first. But once you know the right method that suits you, you can do it in a breeze.

Actually, there are several techniques that you can use to upload photos from your computer to your iPhone. Depending on the number of photos you want to transfer, or the way your iPhone can connect to the computer, you can choose the most efficient method.

In this article, I will show you all the best methods people are using, including their pros and cons. Keep reading and if you have any question regarding these techniques, just drop a comment down below!

 

1. AirDrop (Mac Only)

If you want to quickly transfer batches of photos or videos from your Mac to iPhone or iPad, then using AirDrop is a great way to do so.

With AirDrop, you can instantly share files with other Apple devices nearby. For it to work, you only need to turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on both devices and make sure they are in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range. Learn more about AirDrop.

To put photos from your Mac to your iPhone or iPad:

 

Step 1: Turn on AirDrop on your iPhone and iPad

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (iPhone 8 or earlier) / Swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen (iPhone X) to open Control Center.

Then tap and hold (iPhone 6 and earlier), or press firmly (iPhone 6s and later) on the Connectivity section – the section that includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode & Cellular Data.

AirDrop Photos from PC to iPhone
Turn on AirDrop on iPhone

Tap on the AirDrop button, if both of your devices are logged into the same iCloud account, you can choose “Contacts Only”. Otherwise, choose “Everyone”.

 

Step 2: Send Photos from Mac to iPhone/iPad

Find the photos you want to transfer in Finder or the Photos app, right-click on the photo you wish to share, then select “Share” → “AirDrop”. Then select your iPhone or iPad that appear in the dialog box.

Move photos from Mac to iPhone using AirDrop
Right-click on the photo, then select “Share” > “AirDrop”

If your Mac and iPhone are using different Apple ID, you may need to tap “Accept” on your iPhone. After transferring, your iPhone will automatically open the photos in the Photos app.

Note that you need to turn on the screen of the iPhone, otherwise your Mac will not be able to detect the iPhone and let you send files to it.

 

2. Email Attachment

Sending an email with photos attached to yourself is the simplest method for those of you who don’t have a Mac. Like AirDrop, this method works fine if you just want to send small batches of images.

Just create a new email with the recipient that is your email, then attach some photos you wish to transfer to your iPhone or iPad. Then hit “Send”. Now on your iPhone/iPad, open your email app and save the photos from the new email you’ve sent to yourself.

Email attachments
Send an email to yourself

Depending on which email provider you’re using, you’re only able to send a limited size of attachments in one email. For example, you can send up to 25 MB in attachments in one email with Gmail. Although you can send more than one email to transfer a large number of photos, obviously it’s not the optimal way.

 

3. Wi-Fi Direct Transfer

Wi-Fi Direct is a great alternative to AirDrop if you’re using a computer running a platform other than macOS. It allows you to send directly data from your computer to your iPhone or iPad by using a Wi-Fi connection.

What is great about Wi-Fi Direct is two devices in the same Wi-Fi network can connect to each other without connecting to the Internet. They can establish their own ad-hoc network so you don’t even need to use a router.

Even if you don’t have any local Wi-Fi network available nearby, that’s okay. You can still make use of this technique. Just create your own network by turning on the Personal Hotspot function, then connect your computer to it. Turning on Cellular Data, in this case, won’t cost any your data plan, the method only utilizes the connection between the two devices to transfer data.

Here’s how to use Wi-Fi Direct on your PC and iPhone.

Step 1: Install Simple Transfer app on your iPhone or iPad. There are actually many apps on the App Store that have the similar function. I just personally like and recommend this app.

Step 2: Connect your iPhone and computer to the same Wi-Fi network. Or turn on Personal Hotspot on your iPhone and join the newly created network on your computer.

Step 3: Open the Simple Transfer app. Let the app access your Photos so it can save your photos directly to Camera Roll after transferring.

Step 4: The app will create a small server. On the computer, launch your web browser and typing the address shown in the app. Then click on the iPhone to connect two devices.

Click the Upload button, select files, then upload them to your iPhone

Step 5: Now you have access to all the photos and videos on your iPhone from this web interface. To send photos to your iPhone, click the “Upload” button, browse and pick the files you wish to transfer, then upload them. Your images will be transferred directly and stored in Camera Roll.

You can also import photos from your iPhone to your computer by selecting images and albums, then click the “Download” button.

Since two devices transfer data within the local network, the transfer time doesn’t rely on your Internet speed. Experiments have shown that this method allows you to transfer files even faster than AirDrop!

The three methods above work just fine in case you just want to send a few batches of images to your iPhone. If you want to move your entire photo library or copy large photo quantities, you’re better off using the methods below.

 

4. iCloud Photo Library

With iCloud Photo Library enabled, your photos will automatically upload to iCloud and sync across your iCloud-connected devices. For PC users, you need to install the iCloud application for Windows or upload your photos via the iCloud.com website.

First, on your iOS device, go to SettingsPhotos → Turn on “iCloud Photos“.

For Mac users:

  1. Launch the Photos app.
  2. On the top menu bar of the window, click Photos → Preferences.Turn on "iCloud Photo Library" on Mac
  3. Make sure “iCloud Photo Library” is checked.
  4. After enabling iCloud Photo Library, you may need to wait for up to 24 hours. Your photos will be synced to iCloud, then appear in the Photos app on your iOS devices.

For Windows users:

PC users can get their photos synced easily too, with the Apple’s iCloud for Windows application.

  1. Download and install iCloud for Windows.
  2. Open the iCloud for Windows app and sign in your iCloud account.
  3. Next to Photos, click Options → Enable iCloud Photo Library → Click Done, then click Apply.
  4. Open a File Explorer window. Under Favorites, click iCloud Photos.
  5. Click the “Upload photos and videos” button, select the photos and videos you wish to sync and click Open. Or simply drag and drop photos and videos from your PC into the Uploads folder in iCloud Photos

iCloud.com

If you don’t want to install iCloud on your Windows PC, or you need to upload photos from someone else’s computer, you can use the web-based version of iCloud on iCloud.com.

  1. Open the web browser, visit icloud.com and log in your iCloud account.
  2. Click Photos.
  3. Click the Upload button (looks like an up arrow to a cloud icon), then select the photos you want to add from your computer. Note that you can only upload pictures in JPEG format.Upload photos using iCloud.com
  4. Click Open or press return (Enter) to upload them to iCloud Photo Library.

 

5. My Photo Stream

Apart from iCloud Photo Library, Apple also has another Photos service called My Photo Stream. Like iCloud Photo Library, My Photo Stream automatically uploads new photos from your iPhone or computer to iCloud, then pushes them to your other iCloud-connected devices.

The differences between the two services are:

  • My Photo Stream doesn’t count against your iCloud storage
  • My Photo Stream only lets you store up to 1000 photos that are taken over the past 30 days.
  • My Photo Stream photos are not accessible through iCloud.com

If you just need to have access to most recent photos, then sticking with My Photo Stream would be fine.

To enable it, just turn on the “My Photo Stream” option on your iPhone and your computer. It’s right below the “iCloud Photo Library” I’ve covered in the previous method. They work independently.

 

6. Cloud Storage Services

The standard iCloud account lets you upload up to 5GB of data and if you take lots of photos, you will soon exceed that amount. If you don’t want to pay an extra $0.99 fee per month for more, there are still a couple of free cloud storage services to consider.

Cloud Storage Services for photos

Using a cloud storage service, not only can you transfer your entire photo library to other devices, but it’s also a safe method to backup your photos. Besides iCloud Photos, the other popular cloud storage services for image syncing on iOS include Google Photos, Amazon Photos, Microsoft’s OneDrive, and Dropbox.

You can upload your photos from your Mac or PC via the web browser, or use their helper apps. I prefer to use a helper app because it’s integrated with the file & folder system of the computer.

You can simply drag and drop photos to the app’s folder on your computer. Then everything will be synced automatically to the mobile app on your iPhone. The mobile apps of these cloud storage services also have a nifty camera uploader that can automatically upload newly taken photos from your iPhone and send them to the desktop app as well.

 

7. Use a Flash Drive

A special flash drive that works with your iPhone is a decent accessory to have in your pocket. That type of flash drive features a USB port on one end and a lightning port on the other, allowing you to hook it up to both your iPhone and computer with ease.

iPhone Flash Drive
iPhone Flash Drive

Not only can you transfer photos using this accessory, but you can also use it to transfer a large movie, documents or add some music to your device in a breeze.

Just plug the drive into your computer using the USB connector, copy the files from your computer to it, then plug the Lightning connector into your iPhone. On the iPhone, you will need to install an app designed for that drive to manage data stored in it.

Each brand of flash drive has its own app for managing files, you can easily find and install them on the App Store. If you’re not sure which app is for your flash drive, simply plug the drive into your iPhone, it will prompt you to install the compatible app if you haven’t installed yet.

Once you’ve got the flash drive’s app installed, you can start using it to move or backup data on your iPhone.

There are actually plenty of flash drive options for iOS devices to choose from. If you’re interested in getting a solid one, then we’ve highlighted our favorites in this article. Take a look at it and you will find the one that gives you the most bang for the buck.

 

8. Sync Your Photos Manually with iTunes

Using iTunes is the conventional method to transfer content to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You only need a USB cable to connect your device to your computer.

Step 1: Download and install iTunes on your PC. On Mac, it’s pre-installed.

Step 2: Connect your iPhone, iPad to your computer with the USB cable. Launch iTunes if it doesn’t open automatically.

Step 3: If iTunes detect your device, you will see the device icon. Click on it, then click Photos on the left side of the window.

Step 4: Click the box next to “Sync Photos”, then you will be able to choose the folder or app that you want to sync photos from. You can choose whether to sync a folder with its sub-folders, or individual folders. If you choose a folder with sub-folders, then the first level of sub-folders will appear as albums on your iPhone.

Sync Photos to iPhone using iTunes

Step 5: Click Apply to start syncing.

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