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How to Download iPhone Photos to a Computer

by Andrea Smith on February 11, 2021

Whether you want to create a full back-up of all your photos or download a select few, it’s easy to transfer photos from your iPhone to your computer. Here’s how to download iPhone photos to a Windows 10 or Mac computer with a cable and wirelessly.

How to download iPhone photos to a Windows 10 PC

Import iPhone photos to the Photos app on a Windows 10 computer

The easiest way to move your photos from your iPhone to your Windows PC is to use the Photos app that comes pre-loaded in Windows 10. With the Photos app, you can import all your photos, or just some of them, and choose the folder they’ll be transferred to, so you know where to find them later.

  1. Plug your iPhone charging cable into a USB port on your PC.
  2. Make sure your phone is unlocked. You may see the option to “Trust this computer.” Click “Trust” to allow your PC to access your phone. You’ll likely need to do this each time you connect your device to your computer.
  3. Open the Photos app.
  4. On the top right of your screen, click the “Import” button. It will ask if you want to import from a Folder or a Connected Device.
  5. Select “Connected Device.” Once you choose “Connected Device,” the computer will look for your device and display the photos on it. You have a few options here:
    • You can import all the images
    • You can import all the images since your last import
    • You can import just a few select images.

On this screen, you can also select where you’d like the images to go. Click on “Change Destination” and choose your desired folder.

How to download iPhone photos to a Mac

Import to iPhotos to the Photos app on Mac

If you want to download a large number of photos to a Mac, we recommend using the Photos App on your computer.

  1. Connect your phone to your Mac using a USB cable.
  2. Unlock your phone and click “Trust This Computer” on your device.
  3. Open the Photos app, and you’ll see a screen with all the photos on your connected device. You may have to click your device’s name in the Photos sidebar if it doesn’t immediately populate.
  4. Select the photos you want to transfer to your Mac. Click “Import Selected” if you want to move a group of photos or you can choose to import “All New Photos” to make sure your most recent photos are backed up onto your Mac.

If you’re looking for the photos you’ve imported, you’ll find them stored in the Photos Library in the Pictures folder.

How to download iPhone photos to a Mac wirelessly

If you’re just looking to download a few photos to your Mac, we recommend using AirDrop, Apple’s wireless transfer protocol. You may be familiar with AirDrop as a way to send images to other iOS devices near you without having to be tethered to a computer or email or text the photos.

  1. Make sure Personal Hotspot is turned off on your iPhone.
  2. Make sure your iPhone and Mac have WiFi and Bluetooth turned on.
  3. Make sure your Mac can receive AirDrop requests by going to Finder and selecting “Go” and then “AirDrop” and check the box next to “Allow me to be discovered by.”
  4. On your iPhone, open the Photos app.
  5. In the upper right corner tap “Select” and tap all the images you want to download. Tap the Share button (the square with an arrow on top).
  6. Look for the name of the computer that you are sending them to. If it doesn’t come up, make sure the computer is awake.
  7. Once you see the name of the Mac computer, tap on it. As long as you’re signed in with the same Apple ID on both devices, you won’t need to accept the transfer, it should happen automatically.

How to download iPhone photos to your computer if you use iCloud Photos on your iPhone

If you use iCloud Photos to on you iPhone, you can download your iPhone photos to your computer by logging into

  1. Log into your account on
  2. Click the photos icon and all the photos saved in your iCloud will populate on the screen.
  3. Select one or multiple photos. You can choose the resolution of the photo you want to download by hovering your mouse over the download symbol in the upper right-hand corner of the window and click the down arrow that appears below it. Then choose “Unmodified Originals” or “Most Compatible.” Choose “Most Compatible” to download your photos as JPEG files.
    How to choose resolution when downloading from iCloud
  4. Choose your file destination and select “Save.”

Why we don’t recommend using the iCloud computer app to download your photos to your computer

The iCloud computer app doesn’t merely download photos, it syncs your photos across all your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Windows PC running iCloud Photos. So, if you delete a photo on any of your iCloud Photos devices, that photo will be deleted on ALL of your devices.

If keeping a single synced library does sound like the right solution for you, here’s how to set up iCloud Photos on your computer.

  1. On your iPhone, go to “Settings”
  2. Click on your name (your Apple ID)
  3. Select iCloud and then Photos
  4. If “Photos” is off, tap to turn it on. Now your photos will be automatically stored and saved in their original resolution on iCloud. You have the option to download original full-resolution photos to your devices, or you can choose to download optimized, space-saving versions instead.
  5. If you’re using Windows 10, download and install iCloud for Windows. Sign in with your Apple ID. Next to Photos, click Options. Select iCloud Photos. Click Done, then click Apply. Any photos you download will go to your iCloud Photos folder on your PC, but you can click “Change” to sync them to a different folder.
    Choose to sync iCloud Photos

    If you’re using a Mac, iCloud will already be installed on your computer. Make sure you’ve set up your Mac to sync iCloud Photos by going to Apple menu, selecting “System Preferences,” and then choosing Apple ID. Make sure “Photos” is selected. Once it’s selected, your iPhone photos will automatically sync with your Mac.

[Image credit: Techlicious, Apple]

Andrea Smith is an award-winning technology broadcast journalist, reporter, and producer. Andrea was the Technology Producer and an on-air Technology contributor at ABC News for over two decades before becoming the Lifestyle Channel Editor at Mashable, where she explored the ways in which real people, not just geeks, began using technology in their everyday lives.


Tips & How-Tos, Cameras and Photography, Photo / Video Sharing, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps

Discussion loading


From SM on February 11, 2021 :: 6:19 pm

Please do a similar article but about downloading from Android phones. Thx



From brenda on February 11, 2021 :: 8:30 pm

yes yes for android. is it possible i will be able to use these directions and adapt to my android.??? I really do not want another gadget to accomplish this if i do not have to.

thank you



From Suzanne Kantra on February 12, 2021 :: 4:11 pm

Yes! The story for downloading Android phone photos is in the works. I’ll post the link here when the story is live.



From James beck on February 13, 2021 :: 1:01 pm

Can you transfer an attached photo in an iPhone message to a computer for purpose of copying. Or can such a photo be copied directly from the iPhone?


From Suzanne Kantra on February 26, 2021 :: 11:18 am

Here’s the story on how to download Android phone photos to your computer:



From Suzanne Kantra on February 15, 2021 :: 5:19 pm

James, photos that are sent to you in the Messages app aren’t automatically saved to your phone’s Photos app. So, you’d have to save the photo that was sent to you in the Messages app to Photos and then download it to your computer.

To save the photo to the Photos app, tap on the photo so that it opens. You should see the share icon in the lower left (the box with the arrow pointing up). Select the share icon. Scroll down and select “Save Image.” When you next open your Photos app, you should see the image in the Photos app “Library” on your iPhone.

Once the photo is in your Photos app, you’d download it like any photo you take with your phone.


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