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Key Points:

  • There are several ways to transfer photos from iPhone to a computer. While all methods are viable, using iCloud is the easiest method.
  • Transferring photos with a lightening cable doesn’t require subscription plans like iCloud Storage, just the USB cable you got with your iPhone. However, the process has to be initiated manually each time you want to transfer photos from your iPhone to your computer, which can be time-consuming.
  • Apple implemented automatic conversion that enables their devices to convert HEIC files to JPG when transferring them to another device.

Although iPhones have powerful cameras, some users struggle to transfer their memorable images to PCs. Whether you’re into iPhone photography or just backing up your images, knowing how to transfer photos from the iPhone to a computer can free up space on your device. We’ll cover both the Windows PC and macOS, as well as some wireless methods for easier transfer. So, without further ado, let’s see how to transfer photos from iPhone to a computer.

Method One: Transfer Photos using iCloud (macOS)

Transferring photos from your iPhone to your computer using iCloud is probably the best option if you’re using an Apple device, like a MacBook. With the iCloud Photos app, you don’t need to import photos from one Apple device to another. The app will always upload and store your original, full-resolution photos and sync them between your devices.

The upside is that you can keep the original files on each device or save space with device-optimized versions. The downside is that the photos you upload to iCloud Photos use your iCloud storage. This can quickly become an issue since each user gets 5GB of free storage, which fills up rather quickly. Expanding this storage to 50GB requires a monthly subscription of $0.99. Here’s how to turn on iCloud syncing:

Step 1: Set up iCloud

The iCloud sub-menu will inform you which subscription plan you’re currently using.

To set up iCloud Photos, open the Settings app on your iPhone. Then select the Apple ID profile banner at the top of the screen, and tap iCloud. Tap Photos — this will open the iCloud Photos sub-menu. Next, toggle on Sync this iPhone or iCloud Photos (depending on your system version)

Step 2: Enable Sync

You might need to enter your passcode to confirm this action

Once iCloud Photos has been set up on your iPhone, it’s time to enable syncing on your iMac. Click on the Apple Menu in the top-left corner of your screen, and click on System Preferences… in the drop-down menu. A System Preferences window will appear. Click on your Apple ID to open an Apple ID-related settings.

In the Apple ID window, click on the iCloud option on the left-hand side pane, and check the box next to Photos. Doing this will allow photo syncing between the Photo App on your Mac and your iCloud Photos. Once done, all the photos you took and will take with your iPhone will be accessible on your Mac through the Photos App.

Method Two: Transfer Photos using iCloud (Windows)

Windows users had to resort to other methods for transferring their files in the past. However, Apple has released an iCloud for Windows app, which allows users to transfer photos from iPhones to their computers.

If you’re a Windows PC user, you’ll have to download the iCloud for Windows app onto your PC. Once installed, you’ll need to sign in using your Apple ID credentials. For transferring images, do the following:

Step 1: Set up iCloud

Regardless of the platform, transferring images via iCloud requires enabled syncing options.

Step 2: Transfer Images

Open the iCloud for Windows app on your PC. In the app window, check the box next to Photos, and click on the corresponding Options… button. In the Photos Options window, check the boxes next to the following options: iCloud Photo Library, Download new photos and videos to my PC, and Upload news photos and videos from my PC.

Once you’ve selected the options above, click Done, and then Apply. To retrieve the photos downloaded via iCloud, open File Explorer, go to This PC located at the left-hand pane, and double-click on iCloud Photos. Once the iCloud Photos folder opens up, click on Downloads to access your photos.

Alternative Method

Alternatively, you can log into your iCloud.com account using your Apple ID credentials. From there, you can access and view your photos. Unfortunately, you can’t download individual or select photos—you can only download the entire library.

Please note that the photos you view and download using iCloud could be stored in HEIF file format—Apple’s proprietary file format for storing images. Windows can process and display these image files without an extension offered by Microsoft. For more information on accessing and converting HEIF to JPEG, check out our guide on How to Convert HEIC to JPG in 4 Steps.

Method 3: Transfer Photos From iPhone Using Lightning Cable (macOS)

Transferring photos from iPhone to Mac involves using the Lightning cable to connect the two and transfer the photos via the Photos app.

The process is pretty straightforward, and the Finder makes it incredibly easy to transfer your stills from iPhone to a computer. Here’s how:

Step 1: Connect Your iPhone

Connect your iPhone or another iOS device to your Mac using a USB cable.


Open the Photos app on your Mac. You can usually find it in your Dock or the Applications folder. Select your iPhone on the left-hand pane in the Photos app.

This should automatically take you to the Import screen with all the photos and videos on your iPhone. A security prompt might appear on your iPhone asking you to confirm the action by entering your passcode. Also, if you see a prompt asking you to Trust This Computer, tap Trust to continue.

Step 2: Select and Transfer

You can access your photos on all devices as soon as they’re synced.

After your iPhone and macOS have successfully connected, you can select and transfer photos from iPhone to macOS. Select the photos you want to import and click on Import Selected or Import All New Photos. Wait for the process to complete before disconnecting your iPhone from your Mac computer.

As stated above, this is a pretty straightforward process. It doesn’t require subscription plans like iCloud Storage, just the USB cable you got with your iPhone. However, the process has to be initiated manually each time you want to transfer photos from your iPhone to your computer, which can be time-consuming.

Method Four: Transfer Photos from iPhone Using USB (Windows)

Versatility has always been Windows’ strong point; no proprietary hardware connections and special software—just plug-and-play. Thanks to the versatility of Microsoft’s OS, there are several ways you can use to transfer photos from iPhone to a computer. However, depending on your iPhone settings, some extra steps might be involved in setting up your transfer.

Step 1: Set Up Automatic Conversion

Unless set up otherwise, iPhone will capture HEIF images instead of traditional JPG file format. Unfortunately, Windows can’t reproduce HEIF images unless you install a plug-in. But there’s another way. Apple implemented automatic conversion that enables their devices to convert HEIC files to JPG when transferring them to another device.

Automatic conversions turn outgoing HEIC files to JPG, helping you avoid file compatibility issues.

To enable automatic conversion, open the Settings app on your iPhone, and tap on Photos. Under Transfer to Mac or PC, select Automatic. To reverse the process, follow the steps above and select Keep Originals instead of Automatic.

Step 2: Connect Your iPhone to Windows PC

Make sure you install the latest version of iTunes before attempting file transfers.

This step requires the latest version of iTunes installed on your Windows PC; if you don’t have iTunes, make sure to install it. Next, connect your iPhone to the PC via the USB cable—if asked, unlock your iPhone using your passcode. Additionally, a prompt might appear asking you to Trust This Computer; tap Trust or Allow (depending on your iOS version).

Step 3: Select and Import

Your PC will scan your device for photos to import, and a pop-up box will appear with the new photos for transfer.

Once the connection between your iPhone and PC is established, open the Photos app on your Windows PC. The app is pre-installed on all Windows PCs and accessible via the Start menu. Once the Photos app starts, click on the Import button in the upper-right corner. A drop-down menu will appear, offering several options.

Select From a USB device; if you have multiple mass storage devices connected, you’ll have to select your iPhone manually.

Click the Settings icon in the upper-right corner (represented by a gear icon) to change the import settings. This includes changing the import destination folder and file grouping. Once you have made the necessary changes, click Done at the bottom of the window. Select the photos you want to import to your PC and click the Import button.

The photos will be saved to the designated folder on your PC in the chronological order in which they were captured unless specified otherwise. The duration of the transfer process depends on the number and size of the photos selected for transfer.

Alternative Method

Choose the appropriate course of action to transfer photos from iPhone to a computer.

Repeat steps 1 and 2, as explained above, open File Explorer and navigate to This PC. iPhones will be listed under Devices and Drives. Right-click your device to open the context menu. Select Import pictures and videos.

An Import Pictures and Videos window will appear, asking you to either Review, organize, and group items to import or Import all new items now.

Sign in to iCloud logo
Using iCloud is the easiest method of transferring photos to your computer.

©Gil C/Shutterstock.com

Final Words

As seen in this guide, there are several ways to transfer photos from iPhone to a computer. While all three methods are viable, using iCloud is the easiest method. It requires a one-time setup, the process remains automated, and photos are synced between all wirelessly connected devices. The other two options are viable and require no subscriptions, but they’re manually-initiated transfers that require setting up, making them more time-consuming.

Read Next:

How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to a Computer FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is iCloud best for photo storage and transfer?

iCloud syncs your images across all Apple devices and your Windows PC, and it’s very good at what it does. There are competitive solutions that are equally as good, but they cost more.

Can I use third-party software to transfer pictures from iPhone to a computer?

Of course, but there’s really no need to. Most third-party solutions are paid software, which performs the same function that Windows and Apple offer for free. The only exception is the iCloud storage subscription, which is considerably more affordable than any third-party solution.

Can I use a USB-C to connect my iPhone to my computer?

Unfortunately, no. Despite their similarities, iPhone’s Lightning port isn’t compatible with the USB-C. Some reports suggest that iPhone might make such compatibility possible in the future due to changes in European law, but it’s more likely that they’ll re-focus on wireless charging technology to maintain higher levels of exclusivity.

Where are my photos stored after I transfer them to Windows?

Windows uses two file-saving destination, one of which is your Download folder (located at C:\Users\\Downloads) or the Pictures folder (located at C:\Users\\Pictures or C:\Users\\OneDrive\Pictures).

Why won't my photos import from iPhone to PC?

This tends to happen when you have iCloud Photos enabled. The phone saves the smaller previews of your photos in its local memory, with real photos being stored on the iCloud. That’s why your photos won’t import from iPhone to PC. To fix this, disable the iCloud Photos options in the settings.

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