How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to Computer

Looking for an effective and easy method to transfer photos from your iPhone to your computer? This post has got you covered. Whether you’re using Windows or macOS, just keep reading. There are a lot of options to do so, but here, I’ll show you only the best solutions.

To make the tutorials more readable and actionable, I’ll split the post into two separate sections, one for Windows users and one for Mac users. Each method has different requirements, so read on to find out which method will be best for you.

II. Transfer Photos from iPhone to Mac


Method 1: Using Photos app

  • Unlock your iPhone and connect your iPhone to your Mac with the USB cable.
  • As soon as you plug your iPhone into your Mac, the Photos app on your Mac should open automatically. If not, open it manually in the Application folder, click the Import tab at the top of the window then select your iPhone in the left sidebar.

Import photos to Mac using Photos app

  • You can simply click “Import All New Photos” to import only your new photos. Alternatively, you can click on individual photos you want, then click “Import Selected”.
  • Select Import on the sidebar to view the recently imported photos. And that’s it.


Method 2: Photo Stream & iCloud Photo Library

My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Library are two separate options that enable you to transfer photos over the air with iCloud. For both, your photos will automatically upload to iCloud so you can import them to all of your devices.

There are some distinctions between the two that determine when they can be used.

  • My Photo Stream does not consume any of your iCloud storage package. However, photos only appear in Photos Stream for 30 days and you can upload a maximum of 1000 photos. Only image file types like JPEG, TIF, PNG are allowed to upload.
  • iCloud Photo Library allows you to upload both pictures and videos. It uses your iCloud storage. As long as you have enough space in iCloud, you can upload and store as many files as you want. iCloud Photo Library can also be accessed from Apple Watch and

Most of us always turn on iCloud Photo Library to back up photos instead of iCloud Backup or iTunes. Personally, I enabled both.

To set up My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Library, you need to enable them on both your iPhone and Mac.

  • On your iPhone, open Settings. Tap on your name on the top of the page, then go to iCloud > Photos. Here you can turn on the two options.

Turn on iCloud Photo Library

  • On your Mac, open System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  • Choose iCloud, then select Photos.
  • Click the Options button and now you can check the boxes next to them to turn them on. Click Done to save your settings.

Another note: Photo Stream will only sync the photos taken on your iPhone or iPad after you turn it on. So to test this feature, you need to take a new photo or screenshot, all photos taken before won’t transfer.


Method 3: AirDrop

AirDrop is a native feature of iOS and macOS that let you instantly share your photos, videos, documents, and more between Apple devices.

It uses both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to transfer files, which means both your iPhone and computer are connected to Wi-Fi and in Bluetooth range of each other. Here’s how to use AirDrop to share photos:

  • Turn on AirDrop on your Mac (Finder -> Menu Bar -> Go -> AirDrop, then click “Allow me to be discovered by:” -> select “Contacts Only” or “Every one”).

Transfer Photos via AirDrop

  • Open the Photos app on your iPhone, then select the photos you want to send to your computer.
  • Tap the Share icon in the bottom left corner.
  • Choose your computer’s name from the AirDrop section.

Use AirDrop

  • A prompt to accept the photo should then appear on the Mac. Tap “Accept” to start receiving the file. If your computer and iPhone are using the same iCloud account, photos will be sent automatically without the option to “Accept” or “Decline”.

[ See also: How to AirDrop from iPhone to Mac/Windows PC ]

II. Transfer Photos from iPhone to PC


Method 1: Using File Explorer

You can import photos to your PC by connecting two devices using a USB cable. This guidance will focus on getting photos onto your PC with Windows 10. Windows 8 and Windows 7 can also be applied as the steps are pretty similar. This method will work even if you don’t have iTunes installed on your computer.

First of all, hook up your iPhone to your computer. If this is the first time they are connected, you’ll need to unlock your iPhone and trust your PC then allow it to access photos and videos.

Don’t be panic, this should be presented by a pop-up on your iPhone with two options. If you don’t see it and your PC still recognize your iPhone, you’re good to go.

iPhone Drive

Now in File Explorer, you should see a new drive under the “This PC” section. In my case, it’s “admin’s iPhone”. Click on the drive to open it, you’ll find the only folder named DCIM. This is because Windows recognizes your iOS device as a digital camera and DCIM, which stands for Digital Camera Images, is the default folder system all digital cameras utilize to organize pictures.

If you don’t find any folder in the drive. Please unlock your device if it’s locked with a passcode or fingerprint. Then re-open the drive, now you should see the DCIM folder there.

Double click on the DCIM folder to open it. Photos and videos on your iPhone are stored in a handful of sub-folder. You can cycle through them, copy/paste the photos/videos to the desired folder, just like copy files between two folders on your computer.

TIP: To make it easier to find photos and get them off your iPhone, click “View” at the top of the window, then select “Large Icons” or “Extra Large Icons” to change to these views. This simple act will help you preview the content a lot better.


Method 2: Using Windows Photos app

The Photos app on Windows 10 has a feature for importing photos from a USB device. To use this method, you may need to install the latest versions of iTunes on your computer beforehand.

The Photos app is also available for Windows 8 and the process of transferring photos to your PC with Windows 8 should be similar to Windows 10, what will be covered below. If you have a PC with an older version of Windows (Windows 7 or XP), when you connect your device to your computer, the AutoPlay dialog box will appear with the option allowing you to import pictures and videos.

Here’s how to use the Photos app to import photos and videos from your iPhone to your PC running Windows 10.

  • Plug the iPhone into the PC with the USB cable.
  • Open the Photos app on your PC (Select the Start button and find the Photos app from the application list that is sorted by name, or press Start + S and use the search bar to search for it)
  • Unlock your iOS device using your passcode or fingerprint. If you see a prompt asking you to Trust This Computer. Tap Trust of Allow to continue.
  • Select the Import function in the upper right corner of the Photos app, then select “From a USB device”.

  • The Photos app will start to scan items on your device, then represent you with a box to select your photos.

  • Select the photos you want to import then tap Continue.
  • The next pop-up will allow you to change the folder that will store imported files. You can also choose to organize these files by month or year. Check the box “Deleted imported items from (your device) after importing” if you want to delete photos from your iPhone and free up some space.
  • Click Import. Once imported, the Photos app will notify you and you can go to the predefined folder to view your Photos.

[ See also: How to Transfer Files between Android and iOS ]


Method 3: My Photo Stream & iCloud Photo Library

I’ve already covered the distinctions between these two options and how you can make use of them in the earlier section for Mac users.

  • On your iPhone, open Settings. Tap on your name on the top of the page, then go to iCloud > Photos. Here you can turn on the two options.

iCloud for Windows

  • On your PC, first, download and install iCloud for Windows.
  • Once it’s installed, launch iCloud. Check the box next to “Photos”, and click the “Options” button.
  • Check the boxes for iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream. You can also change the upload/download folder on your PC here.

iCloud for Windows will create a folder named iCloud Photos in File Explorer. Now photos on your iPhone, iPad will automatically upload and appear in this folder, as soon as both of your devices connect to Wi-Fi or Ethernet. After configuring, if you don’t see any photos appear, you may need to restart your computer.


Method 4: Wi-Fi Direct

AirDrop is not supported for Windows, but there are still plenty of apps that can help you transfer files from your iPhone to PC via a Wi-Fi connection. And best of all, this method can work independently. You don’t need to bring a cable to connect your devices, or don’t even need to be… in a Wi-Fi zone.

Don’t get me wrong! These apps utilize a technology called Wi-Fi Direct to leverage your Wi-Fi tethering or hotspot feature and connect your devices. So you can create a Wi-Fi connection on your own by turn on Personal Hotspot and let the other device connect to it. The transmission will be done without consuming any of your mobile data.

Zapya is one of the most popular application to send and receive files via Wi-Fi. It’s completely free to use and works across devices like Android, iPhone, Windows, Web browsers.

To use this app to get photos onto your PC, first, you need to install Zapya on both your iPhone and PC.

Before opening the app, make sure that both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. As I mentioned, if there is no Wi-Fi network available or you don’t want to connect to a public network, you can turn on Personal Hotspot on the iPhone, then use your PC to connect to this hotspot.

Zapya sending files

Once the two devices are connected, launch Zapya on both. On your iPhone, tap on the Transfer button, your PC should appear on the iPhone app’s radar. Just click on it to connect.

Now, select the photos you want to copy to your PC. Not only photos but you can also select videos, music, contact as well as files from other apps. Finally, tap “Send”. Your files will show up in the PC app as messages after transferring, click on the folder icon next to them to go to files’ location.

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