How to AirDrop Photos & Other Files from iPhone to Mac (or Transfer Them via iTunes

As a writer, I appreciate being able to bring my work with me wherever I go. I can write an article on my Mac, and then transfer it to my iPhone to polish it up while I’m waiting to pick the kids up from school. While there are many ways in which to save files between devices, I’ve found that using AirDrop and iTunes to transfer files from my iPhone to my computer or iPad (and vice versa) are two of my favorite methods. AirDrop can seem daunting at first, but it’s much easier than Handoff. Here’s how to use AirDrop and iTunes to transfer files between your iPhone or iPad and computer.

You May Also Like: How to Get Those Photos off Your iPhone and onto a Computer (Mac, PC, and iCloud)

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Using AirDrop or iTunes to transfer files between devices is the focus of this article, but I also routinely transfer my photos and videos from my iPhone to my computer in order to clear storage.

Not all computers are able to use AirDrop to transfer files between Mac and iPhone or iPad. In order to use AirDrop between iOS and macOS, you'll need a 2012 Mac model or later running OS X Yosemite or later. Unfortunately, PC computers running Windows are not able to use AirDrop to transfer files from their iPhone to PC.

It’s important to know that in order to AirDrop photos or files from iPhone to Mac, you must have apps installed that support file sharing (such as Pages or Numbers, which can be downloaded free in the App Store).

Table of Contents

How to Transfer Files From Your iPhone to Computer with iTunes

How to Transfer Files From Your Computer to iPhone Using iTunes

How to AirDrop from iPhone to Mac

How to AirDrop from Mac to iPhone

 

How to Transfer Files From Your iPhone to Computer with iTunes

  • Launch iTunes on your computer.

  • Connect your iPhone to your computer with its USB charging cable.

  • Select your device from the Devices section of iTunes in the upper left corner.

  • Click on the Apps tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

  • Under the File Sharing section you should see a list of apps on your iPhone that support File Sharing. Select the app that contains the file you want to transfer to your computer.

  • Click Save to.

  • Choose where you want the file to go, then click Save To again to save the file.

 

How to Transfer Files From Your Computer to iPhone using iTunes

  • Open iTunes on your computer.

  • Connect your iPhone to your computer with its USB charging cable.

  • Select your device from the Devices section of iTunes in the upper left corner.

  • Click on the Apps tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

  • Under the File Sharing section you should see a list of apps on your iPhone that support File Sharing.

  • Select the app you want to transfer your computer file to on iPhone. For our example, I’m using Adobe Acrobat.  

  • Click the Add button. Choose the file you want to transfer from your computer to your iPhone. Click Add.

That’s all there is to it! Pretty simple, eh?

How to Use Airdrop to Copy Files From Your iPhone to Computer

AirDrop uses Wi-Fi to transfer files from your iPhone to computer and vice versa, which means first you need to be sure both your iPhone or iPad and Mac are connected to Wi-Fi. Remember that AirDrop also requires a 2012 or later Mac model running OS X Yosemite or later to transfer files between your computer and iPhone or iPad. To AirDrop from iPhone to Mac:

  • Open the app on your iPhone that has the file you want to share with your computer.

  • Find the file and click the Share button (a box with an up arrow through it).

  • You’ll see AirDrop at the top of the Share menu.

  • Choose your computer’s name.

  • If successful, it will say Sent below your computer's name.

 

If your computer is not using the same iCloud account as the iPhone you are sending files from, you will need to click Save when the file arrives on your computer. Otherwise, the document will automatically save.

 

How to Airdrop Files from Mac to iPhone

With both devices connected to Wi-Fi and within 30 feet of each other,

  • Open Finder on your Mac; select Go at the very top and choose AirDrop.

  • You should see your iPhone image in the AirDrop window;

  • *If you don’t see your iPhone image, unlock your phone and it should appear.

  • Drag and drop the files you want to transfer into it. The easiest way to drag and drop your files is to right click Finder and open a new Finder window.

  • Once dropped, the file will send.

If your phone is not using the same iCloud account as the computer you are sending files from, you will need to tap Accept when the file arrives on your iPhone. Otherwise it will notify you of the file being sent and give you the option of where to open it, such as Pages, Docs, Adobe Acrobat, etc. If you transfer a picture instead of a file, it will open the photo in the Photos app.


 

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Paula is a freelance media broadcaster and journalist. She enjoys life at home with her husband, two kids, two dogs, two cats and a parrot. Her iPhone is never more than two feet away from her and she can't imagine life without it.