Get Those Photos off Your iPhone and onto a Computer (Mac, PC, and iCloud)

How to Get Photos off Your iPhone and onto a Computer
Getting photos of your iPhone is one of those frustrating things that seems like it’d be simple but doesn’t always turn out that way. Yet our devices have become our go-to cameras, so there’s plenty of pictures to download to our computers. Whether you have a Mac or PC, we’ll cover transferring pictures from iPhone to computer for each. We’ll also look at a popular alternative: using iCloud. Here’s how to download photos from your iPhone to your computer.

Related: How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to Computer: 5 Methods for Downloading

Offloading your pictures without iTunes is natural to the way a computer sees the iPhone. Regardless of whether you own a PC or a Mac, your computer will recognize your iPhone as a camera when connected. And connecting your iPhone to your computer with a USB cable is still one of the quickest ways to transfer your photos. There are alternatives such as Dropbox or Google photos you can check in another post we’ve written, but we’ll focus on downloading photos via USB and with iCloud here. The list of downloading photos methods are as follows.

Table of Contents:

How to Get Photos onto a Mac

How to Download Pictures to a PC

How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream

How to Sync Pictures with iCloud Photo Library

 

How to Get Photos onto a Mac

  • Connect your iPhone to your computer with the USB cable.

  • The Photos app on your Mac will automatically open. If it doesn’t, open your Applications folder and select the Photos app.

  • Select Import at the top. Then Select Import All New Items.

  • If you’d rather download select photos, click all the photos you want to transfer, then click Import # Selected.

  • You can also check the box, Delete After Import, if you want to clean up storage on your iPhone by deleting downloaded photos from your device.

To view the recently imported photos, select Albums at the top. And you’re done!

 

How to Download Pictures to a PC

If you have a PC with an older version of Windows, Auto Play will pop-up when your iPhone is connected to your computer with a USB cable. On a PC with Windows 8, your computer will detect the device and provide a pop-up that says, Tap to choose what happens to this device. When you click on that pop-up, you’ll see the option to Import Photos and Videos. The rest of the process should be pretty similar to what is below. When in doubt, look for the Import button.

We’re going to focus on getting photos onto your computer with Windows 10. Like the Mac, Windows has a Photos app for easy import and organization.

  • Plug your iPhone into your computer with the USB cable.

  • The Photos app should automatically launch. If it doesn’t, launch the program using the Windows Start menu or search bar.

  • Click the Import icon in the upper right corner of the Photos app.

How to Download Pictures to a PC

  • A box with the new photos for transfer will pop-up. Select the photos you want to import and tap Continue.

How to Download Pictures to a PC

  • The next pop-up will show you where the photos will be saved and give you the option to change the location. Here, you can also check the box, Delete imported items from (device) after importing.

  • Click Import.

How to Download Pictures to a PC

Once Imported you can view the photos in the Collections menu or select the Album icon on the left sidebar to view specific albums.

 

We’re going to delve into the two different way to transfer photos with iCloud next: Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Library. There are some important distinctions between the two that we’ll go over; my best recommendation is to enable both.

How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream

Photo Stream does not take up any of your iCloud Storage package. However, photos will appear in Photo Stream for only 30 days (we have a solution to this below).  Photo Stream also doesn’t upload your videos, but you can view your pictures across your devices easily. For both methods, Photos will automatically transfer when your device is in a Wi-Fi zone. To set up Photo Stream, you’ll need to enable it on both your iPhone (or iPad) and computer.

  • On your iPhone, open Settings.

  • Tap iCloud.

  • Choose Photos.

  • Toggle on My Photo Stream.

How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream

  • On your computer, open System Preferences from the Apple menu at the top. If you’re on a PC, click here to download iCloud for Windows.

How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream

  • Choose iCloud.

  • Tap Options next to Photos.

  • Check the box next to My Photo Stream. Click Done.

How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream

Photos will automatically be added to Photo Stream when you’re in a Wi-Fi zone. But remember, pictures remain in Photo Stream for 30 days or up to 1000 images. To set it up so that your Photo Stream images automatically download to your Mac or PC,

  • Open the Photos app.

  • Select Preferences at the very top, under Photos.

  • Choose General.

  • Check the box, Copy Items to the Photo Library.

How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream

This way, even once photos leave your Photo Stream, they will be saved to your computer.

 

How to Sync Pictures with iCloud Photo Library

If you use iCloud Photo Library to sync your photos, the images will count towards your iCloud Storage limit. You get 5GB of iCloud storage free and can pay a dollar each month to bump that up to 50GB. But it also stores all of your photos and videos, given you have the space. It’s automatic too, granted you’re connected to Wi-Fi. You can access your Photos and Videos across all your devices and on iCloud.com. As with Photo Stream, you’ll need to enable iCloud Photo Library on your iPhone and computer. To import pictures using iCloud Photo Library,

  • On your iPhone, open Settings.

  • Tap iCloud.

  • Select Photos.

  • Toggle on iCloud Photo Library.

How to Sync Pictures with iCloud Photo LibraryHow to Sync Pictures with iCloud Photo Library

  • When turned on, you can choose to Optimize iPhone Storage or Download and Keep the Originals.

  • On your computer, open System Preferences.

How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream

  • If you have a PC, download iCloud for Windows.

  • Choose iCloud.

  • Select Options next to Photos.

  • Check iCloud Photo Library. Click Done.

Now, your photos and videos will sync across your devices whenever you’re in a Wi-Fi zone. Remember that iCloud Photo Library pictures and videos count towards your iCloud Storage limit. You can view your uploaded photos by opening the Photos app or visiting iCloud.com.

 
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