How to Import Photos from iPhone to Mac
Mac Tips

How to Import Photos from iPhone to Mac

If you’re wondering how to import photos from iPhone to Mac, here are five simple methods that will help you store and edit your precious moments.

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via Photos (cable needed)

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via Image Capture (cable needed)

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via AirDrop

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via iCloud Photos

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via email or iMessages

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via Photos (cable needed)

The first way to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac requires using iPhoto or Photos–a pre-installed app designed to manage and edit photos on Mac.  

Starting from macOS X 10.10.3, iPhoto was substituted by Photos. The new Apple program includes many new features such as seeing all your photos in all connected devices with a help of iCloud Photos and organizing your photos the same way both on your iPhone and Mac.  

iPhoto is still available on your Mac, and you can open it using Launchpad or the Applications folder in Finder. Still, Apple highly recommends switching to Photos.

To transfer photos from your iPhone to Mac, follow the next steps:​​​​​​

  1. Open the Photos app photo app macbook icon

  2. Connect your iPhone to Mac using a USB cable

  3. In the upper menu of the Photos app, choose Import

  4. Here you will see all the photos your iPhone has

  5. To import all photos, click Import all new photos on the upper-right corner of the window

  6. To import only some of your photos, select them and click Import XXX Items in the upper-right corner of the window

  7. When the transfer process is successfully completed, you will receive a notification in the upper-right corner of your screen

Pros of importing photos with Photos:

  • Easy-to-use

  • Suits both basic and advanced users

  • Good for organizing, editing, and sharing files

  • Can synchronize your photos with iCloud

Cons of importing photos with Photos:

  • Can take a lot of time if you use a USB cable, especially in importing high-resolution photos and long videos

  • Only photos inside the Photos library are stored in your iCloud

If Photos can’t import your photos after you connected your iPhone, try this:

  1. Sign in to your iCloud from Mac (Apple menuSystem PreferencesiCloud)

  2. Launch Photos on your Mac

  3. In the upper menu, select PhotosPreferences

  4. In the pop-up window, choose iCloud

  5. Select iCloud Photos to turn on automatic import of Photos

  6. Then select one of the following options:

  • Download Originals to this Mac will store full-sized files both on iCloud and your Mac

  • Optimize Mac Storage will keep full-sized photos in iCloud only, saving space on your Mac

  1. If you’re turning on iCloud Photos for the first time, it may take some time to automatically import all the photos from your iPhone to Mac

  2. After all your photos are uploaded, you can continue to use Photos

Note: All new photos that you take with your iPhone or add to Photos will appear on all devices that have iCloud Photos turned on.

Now you know one of the basic methods to move your photos from iPhone to Mac. Several alternative ways to do this are listed below.

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via Image Capture (cable needed)

You can use Image Capture on Mac to easily transfer photos and video not only from iOS devices, but also from all other devices that have a camera.

To import photos to your Mac with a help of Image Capture, follow the guidelines below:

  1. Connect your iPhone to Mac using a USB cable

  2. Open the Image Capture app capture image icon macbook  on your Mac

  3. Select iPhone from the Devices or in the Shared List

  4. Click the Import To button, and choose from a dropdown list where you prefer your files to be saved

  5. To import images from your iPhone, click Import All

To import only some of your photos, pick what you need and click Import

There are some other cool things you can do with Image Capture:

  • Rotate and delete images with a corresponding buttons arrow icon black and 

  • Delete files from your iPhone after they are transferred to Mac by selecting the Delete after import button in the lower-left corner the window

  • Turn on the function of automatic transfer of items from your iPhone each time they are connected

Bonus Tip: For importing your images automatically each time your iPhone is connected to Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Show/Hide button icon show/hide apple in the lower-left corner of the Image Capture window

  2. Choose iPhone in “Connecting this [device] open” pop-up menu

  3. Press AutoImporter to turn the function on

Pros of importing images with Image Capture:

  • Can be used for all devices with a camera

  • Private (the app does not use Apple servers)

Cons of importing images with Image Capture:

  • Can’t organize, edit, or share photos and videos

  • Doesn’t support importing new images only—you’ll have to import old images

With Image Capture, some users share cases when they experience an error saying that “XXX items were not imported.” If you can’t import photos from iPhone to Mac with Image Capture, try to restart your Mac and iPhone, and double-check your cable.

If this doesn’t help, proceed with the following:

  1. In Image Capture, open the dropdown list under Import to

  2. Change the file destination to a folder different from Pictures

  3. After the changes are saved, change the folder back to Pictures

  4. Restart the app, and try importing again  

Bonus Tip: A cluttered device or cache can also cause this problem. If this could be your case, try choosing the “Delete after import” option and clearing the photo cache.

If you want to know how to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac without a USB, the next three options are for you.

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via AirDrop

With AirDrop, you can share and receive files from other Apple devices that are located nearby.

You can import photos and videos from iPhone to Mac via AirDrop in two steps.

On iPhone:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone screen to open Control Center (or swipe down if you have an iPhone X or later)

  2. Turn on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

  3. Go to Photos, and choose files you want to share

  4. Tap the Share icon share icon on apple devices  on the lower-left corner of your display

  5. In the pop-up menu, you will see the AirDrop icon that—in several seconds—will be replaced by the devices you can share your content with

  6. Tap the necessary icon to start importing your files

On Mac:

  1. Ensure that Wi-Fi on your Mac is turned on

  2. If it is the first time you transfer files between two devices, an alert will appear on your Mac; approve it to start importing

  3. If the Apple ID on your iPhone and Mac are the same, you may not receive an alert, and the import will start automatically

The transferred photos/videos can be found in the Downloads folder in the Dock

Pros of importing pictures and files with AirDrop:

  • Doesn’t require a USB cable

  • High transfer speed

Cons of importing pictures and files with AirDrop:

  • Requires both devices to be set up

  • Other users might have access to transferring files to your Mac

  • Doesn't work without a Wi-Fi connection

If you can’t import photos from iPhone to Mac with AirDrop, try the following:

  1. Check whether the Internet Sharing option is turned off

  2. Make sure that both of your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network

  3. Open Finder → AirDrop

  4. The computer may ask you to turn Bluetooth on, click Ok

  5. From the dropdown menu under “Allow me to be discovered by” choose Everyone

  6. Try to import files from theiPhone again

  7. For greater security after moving the files, change the option from Everyone back to No one or Contacts Only

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via iCloud Photos

To transfer photos from iPhone to Mac using iCloud Photos, follow these steps:

On iPhone:

  1. Set up iCloud on all iOS devices you want to use with shared access

  2. Log in to your Apple ID in all of these devices

  3. On your iPhone, go to Settings → [your name] → iCloud

  4. In iCloud menu, choose Photos → select iCloud Photos

On Mac:

  1. Go to Apple Menu → System Preferences → iCloud

  2. Next to Photos, click Options and select iCloud Photos

  3. As soon as iCloud Photos is turned on, your iPhone photos and video will be automatically uploaded to your Mac

Pros of importing photos with iCloud Photos:

  • Backs up every photo and video taken

  • Synchronizes with other Apple devices (iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch)

  • Supports original formats (HEIF, JPEG, RAW, PNG, GIF, TIFF, HEVC, and MP4; slow-mo, time-lapse, 4K videos, and Live Photos) in full resolution

  • Helps you save space on your device

Cons of importing photos with iCloud Photos:

  • The storage of iCloud Photos is limited and may have to buy more space for a reasonable price

If you can’t import photos from iPhone to Mac using iCloud Photos, check the following:

  • To be able to use iCloud Photos, you need to update your Mac to OS X 10.10.3 Yosemite or later versions

  • Make sure that there’s enough storage in your iCloud:

  1. In your iPhone go to Settings → [your name] → iCloud

  2. In Manage storage, you can see how much space each app uses

  3. You can turn on Download and keep originals in iCloud → Photos to save space on your iPhone (in iCloud all the files will be kept in their original sizes, while iPhone will keep their smaller versions)

  • Make sure you have enough space on your iPhone:

  1. In your iPhone go to Settings → General → iPhone storage

  2. In the menu, you can see how much space each app uses

  3. You can turn on the option Offload Unused Apps to automatically delete all the unnecessary programs from your iPhone

Importing photos with iCloud helps you avoid using cables and transferring all photos manually. iCloud Photos does all the work for you.

How to import photos from iPhone to Mac via email or iMessages

If you need to transfer only several photos from your iPhone to Mac, try using email or iMessages.

To email photos to yourself or your friend, proceed with the following:

  1. Go to Photos on your iPhone, and choose the file(s) you want to import

  2. Tap the Share icon share icon on apple devices mac iphone on the lower-left corner of your display

  3. In the pop-up menu, tap the icon iMessages or Mail

  4. Type your email in the opened email window and send it

  5. Open your email/iMessage on Mac, and download the files

Pros of using email or iMessages to import photos:

  • Doesn’t require any special software

  • Easy to use for sharing several photos

Cons of using email or iMessages to import photos:

  • Useful only for a small number of files (up to five)

  • Doesn’t have editing options

  • Takes more time

If you can’t import files from iPhone to Mac using this method, try the following:

  • Make sure you’re logged in Mail (or in your Gmail app) on your iPhone

  • Make sure that iMessage works on your Mac

  • Confirm that the chosen files do not exceed the email size limit

  • If it didn’t work, try the following:

  1. Open a chosen image, tap the Share icon → Copy

  2. Create a new email in Mail or your Gmail app

  3. In the body of the new email, tap and hold your finger for a second; when a small menu appears, release your finger and tap Paste

If you can't decide which methods to use, here’s a comparison of the five options discussed above: 

 

  Photos Image Capture AirDrop iCloud Photos Email or iMessage
Camera Roll Photos + + + + +

USB Cable

+ + - - -
Multiple Files + + + +

-

Editing Files

- - - -
Transferring speed Medium High High High Low 

 

Now you know what all methods have in common and how they differ from one another. We hope we’ve helped you choose the most suitable way for getting your files transferred over.

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