How to Transfer Photos From an iPhone to a Mac Featured Image

How to Transfer Photos From an iPhone to a Mac: 8 Quick Ways

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Last updated: October 16, 2023

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TL;DR

To transfer photos from an iPhone to a Mac, you can use multiple methods, including the Photos App, AirDrop, Image Capture, iCloud Photos, iCloud Files, Email or iMessages, iCloud Photo Stream, and using a USB Cable.

Key Points

  • Transferring photos can free up space on iPhones, especially older models with limited storage.
  • Storing photos on iPhone and Mac ensures multiple copies in case of device failures.
  • Macs make it easier to categorize, tag, and manage photos. Apple’s Photos app allows for detailed album structures and metadata editing.
  • Transferring photos to a Mac simplifies the sharing process, whether uploading to a website, attaching to an email, or creating a slideshow.
  • Transferring photos to a Mac provides better options for formatting and ensuring print quality.

Ever snapped that perfect shot on your iPhone and wished it was on your Mac for a quick edit or share? Our iPhones are treasure troves of memories, from candid moments to breathtaking views. But what’s the point if they’re trapped in one device?

The good news is you can easily transfer photos from an iPhone to a Mac, and that too in different ways. Dive into this guide and learn how to move your cherished snapshots from your iPhone to your Mac.

Before We Begin

Photos on a Mac mean more space and less hassle. But moving pics from iPhone to Mac can mean unwanted duplicates. MacKeeper can help you clear out those duplicates in 3 easy steps and ensure you only have one copy of each image on your Mac.

Why Transfer Photos From an iPhone to a Mac?

While iPhones are fantastic for capturing moments, Macs provide a more versatile environment for storage, editing, and sharing captured memories.

Transferring photos from an iPhone to a Mac is beneficial for several reasons, such as the following:

  1. 📱 Storage Management: iPhones, especially older models, may have limited storage. Transferring photos can free up space on your device for new apps, videos, and other content.
  2. ☁️ Backup: It’s always a good practice to have backups of your precious memories. Storing photos on your iPhone and Mac ensures you have multiple copies in case one device fails or is lost.
  3. 🎨 Editing: Mac computers, with their larger screens and more powerful software options, offer a better platform for photo editing than iPhones.
  4. 🗂️ Organization: It’s easier to categorize, tag, and manage large numbers of photos on a Mac. Applications like Apple’s Photos allow for detailed album structures and metadata editing.
  5. 💌 Sharing: Transferring photos to a Mac can make it easier to share them, whether you’re uploading to a website, attaching to an email, or creating a slideshow.
  6. 🖼️ Preservation: You might switch phones or wear out your iPhone over time. Regularly transferring photos ensures that memories are preserved over the long term.
  7. 🖨️ Printing: If you want to print photos, transferring them to a Mac can provide more options for formatting, resizing, and ensuring print quality.

How to Transfer Photos From an iPhone to a Mac

Eager to transfer your cherished memories from your iPhone to your Mac? The process is simple, and Apple offers multiple ways to do it. Below, I’ve shared the steps for each method for transferring photos from iPhone to Mac.

1. Via Photos App

The Photos app on your Mac is the most direct way to import pictures from your iPhone. Its intuitive interface allows easy transfers and offers organizational tools to sort and categorize memories.

Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a Mac using the Photos app:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB cable.
connect your iphone to your macbook
  1. Unlock your iPhone and tap Trust when prompted to trust the computer.
tap trust on your iphone when prompted to trust the computer
  1. You’ll also get a pop-up on your Mac. Click Allow to connect your iPhone to your Mac.
click allow to connect iphone to your mac
  1. Open the Photos app on your Mac.
type photos in spotlight search
  1. You should see your iPhone listed in the sidebar. Click your iPhone’s name, and you’ll see a preview of your device’s photos and videos.
click your iphone s name in the left sidebar
  1. You can import all new photos by clicking Import All New Items.
click the import all new items
  1. If you want to import selected items, select the photos and click Import X Selected.
select photos and click the import x selected button
  1. Once the import is complete, you’ll be asked if you want to delete or keep the imported items on your iPhone. Choose based on your preference.
  2. Disconnect your iPhone, and you’ll find the imported photos in the Imports album in the Photos app on your Mac.

And there you have it! Your photos are now safely stored on your Mac.

2. Using AirDrop

AirDrop is a wireless method Apple offers to seamlessly share content between iOS and macOS devices. It’s perfect for transferring a handful of photos quickly without any cables.

Your iPhone and Mac must be on the same Wi-Fi and close enough for Bluetooth.

Here’s how to use AirDrop to transfer photos from your iPhone to your Mac:

  1. Turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your iPhone and Mac.
  2. Activate AirDrop on your Mac by going to Finder > AirDrop and choosing Allow me to be discovered by: Everyone or Contacts Only.
activate airdrop and choose allow me to be discovered by everyone or contacts only
  1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone and select the photos you want to transfer.
  2. Tap the Share icon (a square with an upward arrow) at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap the AirDrop icon.
  4. In the AirDrop section, you should see your Mac’s name. Tap on it.
steps to airdrop photos from iphone
  1. A notification will appear on your Mac, asking if you want to accept the photos. Click Accept.
click accept to receive photos from your iphone on mac via airdrop
  1. The photos will be saved in the Downloads folder on your Mac.

Voilà! Your photos have been wirelessly transferred to your Mac using AirDrop.

3. Via Image Capture

Image Capture is a utility on your Mac that allows a more granular approach to importing photos and videos from devices. It’s especially handy if you want more control over the import process.

Here’s how to transfer photos from your iPhone to your Mac using Image Capture:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB cable.
  2. Open the Image Capture application on your Mac. You can find it in the Applications folder or search for it using Spotlight.
search for image capture in spotlight search
  1. Select your iPhone from the list of devices on the left in the Image Capture app.
in the image capture app select your iphone from the list
  1. You’ll see a list of all the photos and videos on your iPhone. You can select individual photos or use a Mac keyboard shortcut Command ⌘ + A to select all photos.
macbook air command a keys
  1. At the bottom of the Image Capture window, choose where to save the imported photos on your Mac using the Import To dropdown.
choose where you want to save the photos using the import to dropdown
  1. Click Download to transfer the selected photos or Download All to transfer all photos and videos.
click download to transfer the selected photos or download all to transfer all photos
  1. Once the transfer is complete, you can delete or keep the imported items from your iPhone.
  2. Disconnect your iPhone, and you’ll find the imported photos in the location you chose on your Mac.

4. Using iCloud Photos

iCloud Photos is Apple’s cloud-based solution for storing and syncing photos and videos across all your devices. Using iCloud Photos, any picture you take on your iPhone can automatically appear on your Mac and vice versa.

Here’s how to set it up and use it:

  1. Log in to iCloud using your Apple ID and password. Ensure you’re logged in on every device you wish to synchronize.
  2. On your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos.
  3. Toggle on Sync this iPhone.
steps to turn on icloud syncing on iphone
  1. On your Mac, open the Photos app. Go to Photos > Settings in the menu bar.
click photos and select settings
  1. Click the iCloud tab and check the box for iCloud Photos.
select the icloud tab and uncheck icloud photos option
  1. Once both devices have iCloud Photos enabled, your photos will start syncing.

Depending on the number of photos and your internet speed, this might take some time.

  1. After syncing, any photo you take on your iPhone will automatically appear on your Mac’s Photos app. Similarly, any photo you add to your Mac’s Photos app will be available on your iPhone.
  2. If you want to access your photos online, log in to iCloud.com and view your photos there.

Using iCloud Photos requires enough iCloud storage to accommodate your photos and videos. If you run out of space, you might need to purchase additional iCloud storage.

5. Via iCloud Files

iCloud Drive, often called iCloud Files, is Apple’s cloud storage solution that lets you save files and folders across all your devices. While it’s not primarily designed for photos, you can still use it to transfer pictures from your iPhone to your Mac manually.

Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a Mac via iCloud Files:

  1. Ensure iCloud Drive is enabled on both devices.
  2. On your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Drive and toggle on Sync this iPhone.
steps to enable icloud drive on iphone
  1. On your Mac, go to System Settings > Apple ID > iCloud.
click icloud in apple id
  1. Select iCloud Drive.
click icloud drive in icloud
  1. Toggle on the Sync this Mac switch.
toggle on sync this mac for icloud drive
  1. Open the Photos app on your iPhone and select the photos you want to transfer.
  2. Tap the Share icon (a square with an upward arrow) and choose Save to Files.
tap save to files
  1. Navigate to the location within iCloud Drive where you want to save the photos and tap Save.
tap save
  1. On your Mac, open Finder and click iCloud Drive in the sidebar. Navigate to the location where you saved the photos.
go to finder and click icloud drive in the left hand menu

Remember, using iCloud Drive consumes your iCloud storage. Ensure you have enough space available, especially if transferring multiple photos.

6. Using Email or iMessages

Sometimes, the simplest methods can be the most effective, especially when you only need to transfer a few photos. Email and iMessages are classic ways to send photos from your iPhone to your Mac. Here’s how to use Email and iMessages to transfer photos from an iPhone to a Mac:

Email

  1. On your iPhone, open the Photos app and select the photos you want to send.
  2. Tap the Share icon (a square with an upward arrow).
  3. Choose your preferred email app and compose a new email. Address it to yourself.
  4. Attach the selected photos and send the email.
  5. On your Mac, open your email client, find the email you sent to yourself, and download the photos.

iMessages

  1. On your iPhone, open the Photos app and select the photos you want to send.
  2. Tap the Share icon and choose Message.
  3. Enter your phone number or Apple ID in the recipient field.
  4. Send the message.
  5. On your Mac, open the Messages app. You’ll find the photos in the conversation thread. Right-click on each photo to save it to your desired location.

While these methods are straightforward, they might not be the most efficient for transferring many photos due to size limitations in emails and the manual nature of downloading from iMessages.

7. Via iCloud Photo Stream

Photo Stream is a feature within Apple’s ecosystem that allows you to automatically sync the last 30 days of 1000 recent photos across all your devices without using your iCloud storage. It’s a great way to quickly access recent photos on your Mac without fully committing to iCloud Photos.

However, this method is not available on all iOS and macOS devices. You can use the iCloud Photo Stream if you have one of the following devices:

  • iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone with iOS 5.1 or later
  • MacBook running OS X Lion or later with built-in Photos app
  • Second or third-generation Apple TV HD or Apple TV with TV iOS 5.0 or newer

Here’s how to use Photo Stream to transfer photos to your Mac from your iPhone:

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos.
  2. Toggle on Upload to My Photo Stream.
  3. On your Mac, open the Photos app. Go to Photos > Settings in the menu bar.
  4. Then, click the iCloud tab.
  5. Check the box for My Photo Stream.
  6. Once both devices have My Photo Stream enabled, photos taken on your iPhone in the last 30 days will automatically appear in the My Photo Stream album in the Photos app on your Mac.
  7. If you want to save any of these photos to your Mac permanently, simply drag them to another album or folder within the Photos app.

Photo Stream only stores photos (not videos), which are kept in the stream for 30 days. It’s designed for quick access to recent photos, not long-term storage.

8. With a USB Cable

The good old USB cable remains one of the most direct and reliable methods to transfer photos from your iPhone to your Mac. It’s especially useful when dealing with a large number of photos or when you prefer not to rely on wireless methods.

Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a Mac:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB cable.
  2. On your Mac, you can use various applications to access your iPhone’s photos. The most common are the Photos app, Image Capture, and Finder.
    • Photos App: Open the Photos app, click your iPhone in the sidebar, and choose to import selected or all new photos.
    • Image Capture: Open Image Capture, select your iPhone from the device list, and choose where to import your photos.
    • Finder (for macOS Catalina and later): Open Finder, click your iPhone in the sidebar, go to the Photos tab, and choose to import.
  3. After selecting and importing the photos, you can delete them from your iPhone or keep them.

Always ensure you use a good quality, preferably original, USB cable to prevent data corruption or transfer issues.

Clear Out Duplicate Photos on Your Mac With MacKeeper

Over time, as you transfer, share, and backup photos, you accumulate duplicates that take up precious storage space on your Mac. But manually sifting through thousands of photos to identify and delete duplicates can be daunting.

Enter MacKeeper, a utility designed to make this process effortless. Here’s how to use MacKeeper’s Duplicates Finder to delete duplicate photos on Mac:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Open MacKeeper on your Mac and click Duplicates Finder in the left sidebar.
click duplicates finder in the left sidebar
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in duplicates finder
  1. Select a folder in the left menu to review duplicate files before deletion.
click an item in the left sidebar
  1. Alternatively, you can click Check All and tap the Remove Selected button to remove all duplicate files at once.
click check all and tap remove selected
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up window in duplicates finder
  1. This will remove the selected files, and you’ll get a Removal Completed message. Click Finish to end the process.
click finish to complete the process

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides removing duplicate photos, MacKeeper offers valuable optimization tools to delete unwanted apps, clear the cache, and optimize your Mac’s storage. Check out my detailed Mackeeper review to learn more about its features.

Why Won’t Your Photos Import From an iPhone to a Mac?

There can be several reasons why photos won’t import from an iPhone to a Mac. Here are some common issues and potential solutions:

  1. 🔌 Faulty Cable or Port: A damaged USB cable or a malfunctioning iPhone or Mac port can prevent a successful connection. Try using a different USB cable or connect to a different USB port on your Mac.
  2. 🔒 Trust Issues: When connecting an iPhone to a Mac for the first time, you’ll be prompted to “Trust” the computer on your iPhone. Ensure you tap “Trust” when prompted. If you missed it, disconnect and reconnect your iPhone.
  3. 🔄 Software Outdated: Outdated iOS or macOS can lead to compatibility issues. Ensure both your iPhone and Mac are updated to the latest software versions.
  4. ☁️ iCloud Photo Library Conflicts: If you’re using iCloud Photos, your photos might be stored in iCloud and not actually on your device. Ensure you’re connected to Wi-Fi and download the photos to your device before attempting to import. Alternatively, access the photos directly from iCloud on your Mac.
  5. 💽 Insufficient Storage: Your Mac might not have enough storage space to import new photos. Clear up some space on your Mac by deleting unnecessary files or moving them to external storage.
  6. 📸 Photos App Issues: Sometimes, the Photos app might not recognize an iPhone. Restart both the Photos app and your Mac. Also, try using Image Capture or another photo-importing tool.
  7. 💻 Conflicting Software: Other software on your Mac might interfere with the importing process. Close any unnecessary applications, especially those that might access your iPhone’s storage.
  8. Corrupted Photos: A corrupted photo file occasionally halts the importing process. Try importing photos in smaller batches to identify if a particular photo is causing the issue.
  9. iCloud Syncing Delays: If using iCloud Photos, photos syncing might be delayed across devices. Ensure both devices are connected to Wi-Fi and wait. Check iCloud’s status on Apple’s System Status page for any reported outages.
  10. ⚙️ Incorrect Settings: Some settings on the iPhone or Mac might prevent importing. Check settings related to privacy, photos, and USB accessories to ensure they’re correctly configured.

If you’ve tried these solutions and still face issues, it might be worth contacting Apple Support or visiting an Apple Store for further assistance.

How to Transfer Photos From Your Mac to Your iOS Device

Transferring photos from your Mac to your iOS device is a straightforward process. Here are several methods, each with its step-by-step guide:

1. Via the Photos App and iTunes (or Finder on macOS Catalina and later)

  1. Connect your iOS device to your Mac using a USB cable.
  2. Open iTunes or Finder if you’re on macOS Catalina or later.
  3. Click the device icon in the left sidebar to select your iOS device.
click your iphone in the left sidebar
  1. In the right pane, select Photos.
  2. Check Sync Photos and choose Photos or the folder you want to sync from.
  3. Click Sync to start the transfer.
select the photos tab and click sync

2. Using AirDrop

  1. Ensure both your Mac and iPhone have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on and are within close proximity.
  2. On your Mac, right-click the photo(s) you want to transfer and select Share.
right click a file and select share
  1. Select AirDrop.
select airdrop from the menu
  1. Choose your iPhone on the new window that appears.
select your iphone on the airdrop window
  1. On your iOS device, accept the incoming photos.

3. Via iCloud Photos

  1. Ensure both your Mac and iPhone are signed into the same iCloud account.
  2. On your Mac, go to System Settings > iCloud and ensure Photos is turned on.
click photos in icloud
  1. On your iOS device, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos and toggle on Sync this iPhone.
steps to turn on icloud syncing on iphone 1
  1. Photos added to the Photos app on your Mac will automatically sync to your iOS device.

4. Using Email or iMessage

  1. On your Mac, right-click the photo(s) and choose Share > Mail or Messages.
select mail or messages from the menu
  1. Send the photos to an email address or iMessage account accessible on your iOS device.
  2. Open the email or iMessage on your iOS device and save the photos.

Transfer Photos From Your iPhone to Mac Effortlessly

Transferring photos from your iPhone to your Mac doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Whether you’re looking for a wired solution, a cloud-based approach, or a quick wireless transfer, I’ve covered all these methods in this guide.

Here are some more tips to manage your photos on Mac:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How to import photos from iPhone to Mac without iPhoto?

    To import photos from iPhone to Mac without iPhoto, connect your iPhone and use the Image Capture app on your Mac. Select your device, choose photos, and click Download. Alternatively, use AirDrop or iCloud Photos for wireless transfer options. Ensure both devices are updated for smooth transfers.

  2. What to do if not all photos are imported from iPhone to Mac?

    If not all photos are imported from iPhone to Mac, ensure both devices have updated software. Check iCloud settings for photo syncing. Use a different USB port or cable, and confirm the Trust prompt on your iPhone. If issues persist, consider using alternative methods like AirDrop or iCloud Photos.

  3. Why are my imported photos not showing up in the Photos app on my Mac?

    If your imported photos are not showing up in the Photos app on your Mac, ensure the Photos app is set to display all photos and not just a specific album. Check the Imports or Recently Added album. If they’re still missing, restart the Photos app and your Mac.

  4. How can I transfer Live Photos from my iPhone to my Mac without losing the motion?

    Use the Photos app on your Mac to import Live Photos directly from your iPhone. Ensure both devices support Live Photos and your Mac runs macOS X El Capitan or a later because Live Photos aren’t supported on earlier macOS versions. When viewing in the Photos app on Mac, hover over the Live Photo to see the motion.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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