How to transfer photos from iPhone or iPad to Mac

Photos App

In my line of work, I constantly need pictures on my desktop or laptop that I’ve taken on my iPhone. I personally use iCloud Photos because the images immediately appear on my synced computers. However, there are a number of different ways to transfer pictures to your desktop or laptop, which also makes it much easier to delete them off of your iPhone, freeing up space.

We’ve got a basic how-to guide for transferring photos from your iPhone or iPad Photos app to your Mac using a few different options.

Transfer iPhone or iPad photos using Photos app

Users who are running an older version of the Mac operating system may not have the new Photos app, but the older iPhoto instead. Note that the steps are almost identical to import your iPhone or iPad photos to your Mac using iPhoto or the new Photos app.

There are two ways to transfer pictures from your iOS device using iPhoto on Mac. The first requires you to connect your Mac to your mobile device. The other relies on iCloud.

To transfer images to your computer using a USB connection

Step 1: Connect your iOS device to your Mac using the USB to Lightning cable.

Step 2: The Photos app should open automatically, but if it doesn’t open the app.

Step 3: Under the Devices header in the sidebar, click on your iPhone or iPad. Select the pictures you wish to import, then click on Import drop-down box at the top and select a location.

Step 4: Click Import X Selected. To import all new items, click the Import All New Items button.

Import Photos from iPhone to Mac

Tip: You may want to check the “Delete items” checkbox before importing the photos if you want to delete these photos from your iPhone or iPad after the import.

Transfer photos to your Mac using My Photo Stream

As I mentioned above, I use the Photos app connected to all of my iOS devices through an iCloud feature called My Photo Stream. When enabled, pictures taken with your iPhone or your iPad will automatically appear in the Photos app, no matter where you are, as long as your devices are connected to the internet and can sync with each other. Concretely, when this is enabled, if I snap a photo on my iPhone and then launch the Photos app on my Mac, that photo should appear almost instantly.

Step 1: On your iOS device, open the Settings app, then go to the Photos tab.

Step 2: Turn on My Photo Stream on your iPhone or iPad.

Step 3: On your Mac, launch the Photos app and go to Photos > Preferences > iCloud > and make sure My Photo Stream is selected.

Step 4: To view these pictures, select My Photo Stream from the sidebar to see pictures that are automatically synced from your iOS device.

Transfer photos from iphone or iPad using Image Capture

If you want a “lighter” option than Photos, you can import pictures using Image Capture instead. This method allows you to select where you want to save the pictures on your Mac. Note Image Capture is a free app that comes pre-installed on every Mac.

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your Mac and open Image Capture.

Step 2: Select your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch from the list of connected devices. For instance, in the screenshot below, you’d click on “iPhone 6s” in the sidebar.

Step 3: Open the drop down menu next to “Import To” and select the folder you want to transfer pictures to. If you don’t see the folder on the main list, select “Other” for more options. In our example below, pictures will be imported to the Desktop.

Transfer photos to Mac with image capture

Step 4: Select the specific pictures you wish to import and click Import, or select “Import All” if you want to import all of them at once.

Transfer iPhone or iPad photos with AirDrop

Apple’s AirDrop was updated for iOS and macOS to make it possible for you to share files from your mobile device to your desktop or laptop wirelessly. Admitedly, this method is best used when transferring a small amount of photos. You definitely wouldn’t want to move hundreds of pictures over AirDrop, but it is an very good way to move a handful of pictures from your iPad or iPhone to your computer.

First, you will need to make sure AirDrop is set up properly on your Mac.

Step 1: Open Finder and click on AirDrop in the sidebar.

Transfer photos to mac with airdrop

Step 2: Make sure AirDrop is enabled by selecting either “Contacts Only” or “Everyone” from the dropdown menu.

To transfer photos from the Photos app in iOS to your Mac:

Select photos to share with AirDrop

Step 1: Open Photos, then select the album and the photos you wish to send to your Mac.

Step 2: Select the Share icon at the bottom of the screen.

Step 3: Select your Mac computer from the list of devices that appear in the AirDrop section. The photos will automatically transfer to the downloads folder on your Mac.

That’s all there is to it. Now you can quickly share photos from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to your Mac computer.

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