How to Transfer Pictures From iPhone to Windows OS and MacOS

Someone holding an iPhone taking a picture of a lake and mountains

The benefits of having a camera phone are nearly endless …

First things first, smartphones with cameras are very convenient. Americans look at their phones about 80 times daily. It’s not uncommon for people to have a phone on them around the clock, which means people can also take a photo whenever a memory worth saving occurs. 

After taking a photo, a smartphone can connect to the internet or a USB cable; once connected, it’s easy to upload and share photographs. You can also share your photos within seconds through texts, emails, social media and more.

If all this weren’t enough, smartphones take quality images that you can edit either on a camera phone or another device. Simply put, a phone with a camera simplifies life, is beneficial for aging in place and keeps you in contact with the world around you.

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iOS to PC Via USB

It’s not uncommon for a PC owner to use an iPhone. Although iPhone’s mobile operating system (iOS) pairs best with Apple’s operating system (MacOS), it still works well for PC users and the Windows operating system.

To start, you need to download iTunes. You should be able to access iTunes for free from Apple’s website. After you type “www.apple.com/itunes” into a web browser, like Microsoft Edge, you can click to download iTunes.

The next step is to open the download. From your Start menu, click your user name. A “Downloads” folder should then open. You may also be able to use the “Tools” section of your web browser to see your internet downloads.

Once you see an iTunes file, often titled “iTunes6464Setup.exe installer,” launch the file. You will go through installation instructions and agree to the terms and conditions. iTunes will then be on your Windows operating system. With iTunes, you’ll be able to manage your files, download photos and backup your iPhone from your PC with ease.

To connect your phone to your computer with a USB, you will hook up the matching sides to your iPhone as well as your computer. When you do this, a Photos app should launch. If not, you can open the program from your search bar or main menu. If you have a passcode on your iPhone, you will need to unlock it to proceed.

Lady editing her photos on her iPhone

Within the Photos app, look to the upper-right corner and click the “Import” button. On some versions of the application, the “Import” button is an icon of a box with a downward arrow. You can select individual photos to upload or can upload all of your photos from your iPhone to your computer.

After you’ve selected your desired content, click “Continue.”A pop-up message may ask you if you want to delete the photos stored on your iPhone after they’re uploaded. You may choose to do this, but you might want to backup your images first.

iOS to MacOS Via USB

With an Apple computer, it’s easy to upload your photos via USB. First things first, your computer should come with iTunes already installed, so you won’t need to take the time to download this application.

With or without launching iTunes or the Photos app, use a USB cord to connect your computer and your phone. The Photos app should launch automatically once a secure connection is established. If the application doesn’t open, you can launch it from the Applications folder or Launchpad.

Once Photos is open, either click “Import New” or select the individual photos you want to transfer to your computer. There is a checkbox option to “Delete items after import” if you want your iPhone to be wiped after the files are on your computer. Again, it’s generally best to backup the photos before deleting them so they don’t get completely erased if something goes wrong.

A good thing to keep in mind is that it’s easy to share, favorite and edit your images once they’re on your Apple computer. When you hold down “control” and click an image, a menu will give you several options and actions you can carry out in regard to an image.

Syncing From iCloud to Windows

Using iCloud to transfer photos from your iPhone to your PC is a great way to save time and hassle. To start, you need to set up iCloud on your iPhone. When doing this, it’s best to be running the latest version of your operating system. To see if you’re eligible for an upgrade, go to Settings and hit “Software Update.” Then, download the update if it’s an option for you.

After your operating system is updated on your phone, go to your “Settings” icon and sign in with your Apple ID. After you log in, iCloud will automatically power on. If you don’t have an Apple ID, you’ll want to create one.

For help creating an Apple ID or troubleshooting your ID, reach out to HelpCloud. Chances are you already have an account, as you often need one to set up a new iPhone.

Back under “Settings,” click on your name and then “iCloud.” You will then be able to decide which applications should work with iCloud. At this point, make sure the Photo app reads “On.” Next, head back to your computer. If you don’t have iCloud already, click here to download it for Windows.

Once downloaded, open the file and look for the section that says “Photos.” Close to the “Photos” section, it should read “Options.”  Click on “Options,” followed by “Select iCloud Photo Library” and “Done.” You may also need to click “Apply” to save your settings. 

To upload wirelessly, open a File Explorer window. The fastest way to access this file is by pressing the Windows icon and “E” on your keyboard at the same time. Under the “Favorites” section, click iCloud Photos. Hit “Upload photos and videos” and then select the media you want to upload.

iOS to MacOS Through the Cloud

There are two easy ways to add photos from your iCloud to your Mac. To begin method one, open System Preferences on your computer. Select iCloud from the menu that opens and hit the “Options” button next to Photos. Click the box next to “iCloud Photo Library” and then “Done.”

You may also want to read the “My Photo Stream” and “iCloud Photo Sharing” boxes to see if you’d like them to be selected, too. When you open your Photos application on your computer, you should be able to see all the photos from your iCloud account.

A second way to download photos to your computer is through iCloud’s website. After visiting iCloud.com on your browser, sign in using your Apple ID. Under Photos, scroll through your library and select the images you want to download.

To select more than one image, hold the “control” button while you click the files of interest. Then, hit “Download” in the top right of the screen. All of your desired photos will shortly appear in your downloads.

AirDrop iOS to MacOS

AirDrop is one of the most useful Apple features.

With this application, you can send documents, map locations, photos and more wirelessly. On your computer, click “Go” at the top of your screen, open AirDrop and make sure it’s turned on. It’s also a good idea to check the “Allow me to be discovered by” option in the bottom of the window so you can easily share and receive files with friends.

On your iPhone, open AirDrop from your Settings and turn it on. Another way to do this is from your iPhone’s home screen. After you swipe up, a menu will display, so you can select AirDrop. Make sure it’s turned on, and then decide which discoverable preferences you’d like.

To share a photo with AirDrop from your iPhone, pull up the image first. Tap the icon of a box with an arrow pointing up, otherwise known as the share icon, and wait for the menu to pop up. From this menu, select the name of the contact you’d like to share with. In this case, the person will be your profile on your computer. A notification will then populate on your computer, notifying you of receipt.

A screenshot of creating an Apple ID for AirDrop
Apple Support

If you ever want to send a photo from your computer to your iPhone, open the AirDrop application. You will then see your iPhone come up as a contact.

Find the photo you want to transfer and drag and drop it to your iPhone’s name in the AirDrop menu. A notification will come up on your iPhone, letting you know your computer is sharing a photo. If you’re having issues with AirDrop not working properly, you can benefit from customer support.

High Quality and Functionality, Low Stress

Photography has gone through quite the revolution. From negatives to digitizing photos, the industry continues experiencing extreme change. To stay current with a quickly evolving industry, you luckily only need an iPhone and a computer. With two simple devices, you can capture the world around you and stay connected to your family and friends.

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Erik Fullmer

Director of Marketing

Photo of Erik Fullmer

Erik was raised in many places in a military family but has long since called Utah home. He spends free time in his garden, in the mountains with his dog, and skis…a lot. He is actively earning the necessary certifications and training to become a certified winter mountain guide.

Erik graduated from Utah Valley University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science and a minor in Spanish. Additionally, being raised by a German mother, he spent a part of his childhood and also the beginning of his professional career in Germany where he worked as a Digital Strategist for adesta, a locally owned business in Darmstadt. Speaking three languages has opened up the world to him and influences the breadth of topics covered in his articles. He has always held an affinity for the world wide web and its workings, development, history and future.

Being a key player in the development of, and Director of Marketing for HelpCloud, he takes the content displayed and utilized on HelpCloud extremely seriously.