iOS 15 Update: 6 Easy Ways to Transfer Photos from iPhone to PC or Mac

Learn how to get photos off iPhone and onto a computer without the frustration!

If you’re wanting to know how to transfer photos from iPhone to PC or Mac, you have lots of options. There are more ways to move photos from iPhone to Mac simply because they're both Apple devices, but the transfer of iPhone photos to PC is not as complex as you might think. We'll show you how to get photos off iPhone and onto a computer easily!

Related: What Is iCloud & How Does It Work? Apple iCloud Basics

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How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to Computer (Mac)

The classic way to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac is to use the photo transfer feature in the Photos app that both Mac and PC offer. It's important to note that the import Photos from iPhone to Mac process has changed a little since MacOS Catalina, Big Sur,and soon macOS Monterey, so if you're using a newer operating system you'll want to use the method shown next. If you use Mojave or earlier, you can skip to the next section.

How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to Mac in MacOS Catalina & Later

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac with the USB cable and unlock your iPhone.
  2. Open the Photos app on your Mac. You can find it with Spotlight search, in your Dock, or by opening the Applications folder and selecting the Photos app.
  3. Your iPhone should already be selected in the browser on the left of the Photos page. If it isn't, then select your iPhone.

  4. Select the photos you wish to import by clicking on them.
  5. Click the Import button at the top.


That's it; Finder has made this process easy! If you'd rather move photos from iPhone to Mac without a USB cable, you can also learn how to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac using AirDrop or iCloud Photo Stream. These methods are especially helpful if you own a MacBook that doesn't have USB-A ports built in!

How To Import Photos from iPhone to Mac in MacOS Mojave

This method will help you transfer iPhone photos to a Mac or MacBook if you use the macOS Mojave operating system. If your device is compatible with the newest macOS version, we always recommend keeping your device updated! This ensures that bug fixes, privacy updates, and new features are always available to you.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer with the USB cable.
  2. Open the Photos app on your Mac. You can find it with Spotlight search, in your Dock, or by opening the Applications folder and selecting the Photos app.
  3. Select File from the top menu, then select Import.

    transfer photos from iphone to computer
  4. You can download select photos by holding down the command key (cmd) on your keyboard while clicking all the photos you want to transfer, then click Review for Import.

    how do you transfer photos from iphone to computer
  5. If you've already imported some or all of your selected photos, your Mac will let you know and then give you the option to import the remaining photo(s) by clicking Import New Photo.

    how to move pictures from iphone to computer
  6. If you'd rather import all the photos on your iPhone that you haven't previously backed up, click Import All New Items.

    how to download pictures from iphone to mac
  7. To view the recently imported photos, select Last Import on the sidebar.

And you’re done! If you'd rather transfer iPhone photos to Mac without a USB cable, you can also learn how to import photos from iPhone to MacBook or Mac using AirDrop or iCloud Photo Stream. These methods are especially helpful if you own a MacBook that doesn't have USB-A ports built in!

How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to PC

How to Upload Photos from iPhone to Computer in Windows 8

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 Import Photos and Videos option to allow you to move photos and videos from iPhone to PC. The rest of the process should be pretty similar to what is demonstrated below for Windows 10. When in doubt, look for the Import button!

How to Import Photos from iPhone to PC in Windows 10

Below we'll show you how to transfer selected photos from iPhone to PC, or all photos. 

  1. Plug your iPhone into your Windows computer with the USB cable.
  2. On your iPhone, a pop-up will ask if you would like to allow the computer to access the iPhone. Tap Allow.
  3. On your Windows computer, the Photos application may automatically launch. If it doesn't, launch the Photos program using the Windows Start menu or search bar.
  4. Click the Import button in the upper-right corner of the Photos app.

    How to Download Pictures from iphone
  5. In the drop-down menu, select From a USB device.

    how to import pictures from iphone to computer
  6. If you have multiple USB devices plugged in to your PC, such as a thumb drive, you'll be asked to select which one you want to import from. Select your iPhone.
  7. The computer will search for photos to import, then a box with the new photos for transfer will pop-up. If the Photos application crashes here, you may have a common bug. Try the alternate method listed in the next section.
  8. Select the photos you want to import.

  9. To see where the photos will be saved and to change that location, click settings, represented by a gear icon.

    how to move photos from iphone
  10. ​​​In the import settings menu, you will see the location where the photos will be saved plus a Change the import destination link in case you want to change where imported iPhone photos are saved to your PC.

  11. Click Done to go back to the image-selection screen.
  12. Once you've selected the images you want, click the Import button.

  13. Once they're imported, you can view the photos in the Collections menu of the Photos app or select the Album icon on the left sidebar to view specific albums.

How to Transfer Pictures from iPhone to Computer with a Cable (Alternative Method)

Some users encounter bugs with the built-in Windows Photos application. If you can't get it to work and need another solution, try this.

  1. Plug your iPhone into your Windows computer with the cable, unlock the iPhone, and tap Allow, as above.
  2. On your Windows computer navigate to This PC. You should see your iPhone listed under Devices and Drives. 
  3. Right-click on your iPhone and in the context menu select Import pictures and videos.

  4. You can either import all new items, or click Review to organize and group items to import. I recommend selecting Review because the automatic organization may not be ideal.
  5. The More options link at the bottom offers options to change where the files are saved, but for most users the default Pictures folder is fine.

  6. Click Next and the computer will scan your iPhone for images and videos.
  7. In the following window, select the items you wish to import.

  8. A slider at the bottom of the menu changes how the images are grouped into folders, e.g. by hour, by hours, by day, by month, or by year taken. You can slide it all the way to the right to save them all in one folder.
  9. Click Import when you're ready to transfer images.

Next, we’re going to delve into the two different ways to import pictures from iPhone to Mac with iCloud: 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 Import Photos from iPhone to MacBook or Mac 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 share 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 connected to Wi-Fi unless you have enabled the option to transfer over cellular data. To set up Photo Stream, you’ll need to enable it on both your iPhone (or iPad) and your Mac.

  1. On your iPhone, open the Settings app.

  2. Tap your Apple ID profile at the top of the screen.

  3. Tap iCloud.

  4. Choose Photos.

  5. Toggle on My Photo Stream.

  6. On your Mac, open the Photos app. If you’re on a PC, download iCloud for Windows before you continue.
  7. From the Photos menu choose Preferences.

    How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream
  8. Choose the iCloud tab.
  9. Check the box next to My Photo Stream. Click Done.
    Note: In MacOS Mojave and earlier the same setting is found in System Preferences > iCloud > the Options button next to Photos.

    How to Transfer Photos with iCloud Photo Stream
  10. Now 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.

How to Set Photo Stream Images to Automatically Download to Mac or PC

In MacOS Catalina you don't have to do anything special. The Photos app on your Mac automatically saves your Photo Stream to your photo library.

In MacOS Mojave or earlier, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Select Preferences at the very top, under Photos.
  3. Choose General.
  4. Check the box next to Importing: 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. You can also enable iCloud Photo Library on iPhone and computer if you pay for iCloud storage. Doing so will allow you to store your Photos in the Cloud, making them accessible online as well as on your computer.

How to Download Pictures from iPhone to Computer with iCloud Photos (Also Works on iPad)

The process for setting up iCloud Photos is similar to Photo Stream. Enabling iCloud Photos will store all of your photos in your iCloud account, not merely the most recent. This can rapidly use up your iCloud storage space unless you pay Apple for more. On the other hand, your photos from your computer and your iPhone will all be safely backed up in the cloud, and the process for how to transfer photos from iPhone to computer will be practically effortless, since iCloud will keep the two libraries in perfect sync.

On your iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Select your Apple ID profile at the top.

  3. Tap iCloud.

  4. Choose Photos.

  5. Toggle on iCloud Photos.

On your Mac:

  1. Open System Preferences from the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen. 

  2. Choose Apple ID and sign in.

  3. In the menu on the left, iCloud should already be selected. If it's not, click it.
  4. Check the box next to Photos and enter your computer passcode if asked.

  5. Now all the photos you take on your iPhone, and all the photos you add on your computer, will show up in both places. Keep an eye on your iCloud storage!

How to Download Photos from iPhone to Mac with AirDrop

AirDrop uses Wi-Fi to transfer files from iPhone to Mac and vice versa (and can be used for other files as well), which means first you need to be sure both your iPhone or iPad and computer are connected to Wi-Fi. Remember that AirDrop also requires a 2012 or later Mac model running OS X Yosemite or later to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac. To use AirDrop to export photos from iPhone:

  1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone.

  2. Select the photos you want to transfer to the computer, then tap the Share icon.

  3. Select AirDrop in the Share menu.

  4. Choose your computer.

  5. If successful, it will say Sent below your computer's icon.

  6. Tap Done in the upper-right corner to leave the AirDrop screen.

  7. 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. If you are using the same iCloud account, the pictures will automatically save.

Need more methods to download pictures to a computer? Here's three more you can use to transfer photos from iPhone to computer

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Author Details

Cullen Thomas's picture

Author Details

Cullen Thomas

Cullen Thomas is a Writer and Producer at iPhone Life, creating tips and guides to help users unlock the full potential of their iOS and iPhone. In addition to writing countless tip-of-the-day articles and many detailed guides, Cullen has spent nine years as an instructor in media and communications at Maharishi University, lecturing on technical and artistic subjects ranging from camera and audio hardware to story-plotting to how to manage a film crew. Cullen answers questions daily about iPhones and iOS as part of the Ask an Editor insider service, and designs curriculum for iPhone Life’s online classes. As a frequent contributor to iPhone Life magazine and occasional guest on the iPhone Life podcast, Cullen likes to talk about security and privacy news, tech, gadgets, and apps, even if nobody asked.

Cullen holds a master’s degree in Cinematic Arts from the David Lynch School of Cinematic Arts. Cullen also holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Maharishi University, one in literature with an emphasis in writing and the other in Communications and Media. Cullen’s short fiction has been featured in anthologies from Amphibian Press and TANSTAAFL, and Cullen co-owns a game design company, Thoughtspike games, which builds thought-provoking puzzle games. Cullen is a sci-fi author, a coffee connoisseur, and an iPhone expert.

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