How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to a Mac or Windows Computer

Although Apple’s syncing ecosystem is advanced, it can still be difficult to understand for beginners. So when it comes to transferring photos from an iPhone to a Windows PC or a Mac, it’s only natural to get confused. To help you out, here are the easiest ways to do so.

Transfer Photos from iPhone to a Mac

Using AirDrop

Before using this option, make sure you have BlueTooth and WiFi turned on on both your devices and that they are within 30 feet (9 meters of each other). Also, ensure that both devices have AirDrop enabled and set to receive files from anyone.

  1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone and select the photos you want to transfer to Mac. Then, click on the export button you can see in the bottom panel.

    export photo options iOS
    Click on the export button.
  2. In the sharing tab, select AirDrop.

    File sharing menu iOS
    Select Airdrop from the list of available sharing options
  3. On the next screen, select your Mac, and the photos will be transferred there.

    Airdrop sent window
    Photos will be sent to the selected device via Airdrop
  4. You will receive a notification on your Mac informing you of the pictures you have received. You can now view them in your Mac’s Downloads folder.

    airdrop received notification Mac
    You will receive a notification when the file transfer is complete

Using Photos (requires a USB connection)

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB cable. If you are using any of the latest MacBooks made after 2020, you will need to use the USB-C to Lightning Cable to connect your iPhone to your MacBook.
  2. Unlock your iPhone and click on Trust.

    trust this computer pop up on iPhone
    Select the Trust button to approve the connection
  3. Open the Photos app on your Mac and click on your iPhone name that appears under “Devices” in the left sidebar.

    iPhone album in Finder
    Tap the iPhone folder from the sidebar in Finder
  4. After a few seconds, you should be able to see all the photos from your iPhone on your Mac. First, select the images you want to import and then click on the Import Selected button on the top right side of the Photos app.

    iPhone album in Finder
    Select the photos you want to transfer and click on Import
  5. The images you imported will now be available in the Imports album of your Mac.

    imports folder on Mac
    Your downloaded photos will be in the imports folder

Using Finder (requires a USB connection)

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB cable.
  2. On your Mac, navigate to System Preferences.

    opening system preferences in mac
    Open system preferences
  3. In System Preferences, search and open iCloud settings.

    Mac settings
    Search for iCloud in the settings menu
  4. Make sure that the Photos option is checked and activated.

    iCloud settings menu Mac
    Make sure the Photos option is activated.
  5. Go to Settings on your iPhone, and tap on your user profile to access iCloud settings.

    iOS profile settings
    Tap on iCloud
  6. In the iCloud settings menu, ensure that “iCloud photos” are turned on.
  7. Go back to your Mac and open Finder.

    opening finder on mac
    Open Finder
  8. You will see your iPhone listed as a folder on the left sidebar. Open it and navigate to the Photos tab.

    iPhone dashboard in Finder
    Open the Photos tab
  9. Click on the Sync button on the bottom ride side of the application. All the photos from your iPhone will be transferred to your Mac.

    Finder copying photos from iPhone to Mac
    Click on the Sync button to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac

Transfer Photos from iPhone to a Windows Computer

Using Window’s iCloud app

  1. Download and install iCloud from the Microsoft Store.

    iCloud on the windows store
    Download iCloud from the Windows store
  2. Log in to iCloud using your Apple ID and Password.

    iCloud login screen
    Log-in to iCloud
  3. You will receive a code on your iPhone to verify this log-in. Enter that code into iCloud to log in successfully.
    iCloud verification code on iPhone
    Note down the Apple ID verification code sent to your iPhone

    iCloud verification
    Enter the verification code to log in
  4. On the iCloud home screen, check the box in the Photos tab to activate photo sync between your iPhone and PC.

    iCloud app home screen
    Turn on Photos sync in iCloud
  5. You can also change the default import destination on your Windows computer by clicking the Options… button.
    iCloud photos settings options button
    Click on the Options button

    change iCloud default directory
    Change the default directory
  6. Open File Explorer. You should see a folder named iCloud Photos on the left sidebar. Photos and videos from your iPhone will be downloaded here by default.

    File explorer displaying photos and videos
    Copy the photos to your computer from the iCloud Photos folder

Using iCloud.com

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of downloading and setting up iCloud on your PC, you can also access all the photos on your iPhone directly from iCloud.com.

  1. Go to icloud.com and log in using your Apple ID and Password.

    icloud.com login
    Log in to iCloud.com
  2. After logging in, select the Photos app from the dashboard.

    iCloud website home screen
    Open the Photos section on the iCloud website
  3. Here, you will be able to view every photo on your iPhone that has been backed up by iCloud. You can also directly download pictures to your PC using the Download button in the top right.

    download button on iCloud.com
    Save the selected photos to your computer using the download button.

Using iTunes (requires a USB connection)

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Windows PC using a USB cable.
  2. Download and install the latest version of iTunes on your PC.

    iTunes home screen
    Download and install iTunes
  3. Open File Explorer and you should see a storage media named Apple iPhone on the home screen. Open it and navigate to the DCIM folder, where you will find multiple folders containing all the images on your iPhone.

    Apple iPhone as storage media in File Explorer
    Tap on the Apple iPhone drive in File Explorer
  4. You can select and copy the images you want to transfer to your PC and paste them anywhere on your computer’s drive. You can also “Click and Drag” them into another folder on your PC.

    Windows File Explorer displaying files
    Select images and copy them to a folder on your PC.

Using Window’s Photos app (requires a USB connection)

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Windows PC using a USB cable.
  2. Open the Photos app on your PC and click on the import option on the top right. You will see a dropdown menu – select import photos from a connected device.

    Windows Photos app import photos option
    Select the “From a connected device” option to access photos from your iPhone
  3. Select the photos you want to import to your PC and click on the Import button.

    importing photos in the windows photos app
    Select the photos you want to transfer and click on the Import button

Change image file format from HEIF/HEVC to JPG/JPEG

iPhone’s unique file format encodes photos to a HEIF/HEVC format. We can convert these HEIC photos to a format more accessible on a PC, such as JPG or JPEG. Note: If you’re using a Mac running macOS High Sierra v10.13 or later, you can skip this step as you can open HEIC files natively on your Mac. Here’s how to convert HEIC photos to JPG format when you share them from your iPhone.

    1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
    2. Navigate to Photos settings.

      photos settings on iPhone
      Open the Photos settings section.
  1. Scroll down to the “Transfer to Mac or PC” section and select the Automatic transfer option. Note: you can check the Keep Originals options to keep a backup of the old images.

    transfer to pc or Mac settings
    Set transfer to Mac or PC settings as automatic

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