How To Download Photos to iPad

Download photos to iPad
image credit: Morsa Images/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Along with being a great device for using the web, reading ebooks, streaming video, and playing games, the iPad is also a terrific tool for enjoying photos. The iPad's big, beautiful screen is a perfect place to view your photos or to use as part of your mobile photography studio.

But first, you need to get photos onto the iPad. You can do that by taking pictures the iPad's built-in camera, but what if the photos you want to add to your iPad are stored somewhere else? How do you download photos to the iPad?

How to Download Photos to iPad Using iTunes

Perhaps the most common way of getting photos onto an iPad is to sync them using iTunes. To do this, the photos you want to add to the iPad need to be stored on your computer. Assuming that's done, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the iPad into your computer to sync it.

  2. Go to iTunes and click the iPad icon in the top left corner, beneath the playback controls.

  3. When you're on the iPad management screen, click Photos in the left-hand column.

  4. Check the Sync Photos box at the top to enable photo syncing.

  5. Next, choose the program that contains the photos you want to sync. Click the Copy photos from: drop down to see the options available on your computer (this differs depending on whether you have a Mac or PC, and what software you have installed. Common programs include iPhoto, Aperture, Windows Photo Gallery, and Photos) and select the program that contains the photos you want to download.

  6. Choose whether you want to sync some photos and photo albums or all of them by clicking the correct button.

  7. If you choose to sync only Selected albums, a new set of boxes appear, allowing you to choose from your photo albums. Check the box next to each one you want to sync.

  8. Other syncing options include syncing only the photos you've favorited, including or excluding videos, and automatically including videos from certain time periods.

  9. Once you've chosen your settings, click Apply at the bottom right corner of iTunes to save your settings and download photos to your iPad.

  10. When the sync is completed, tap the Photos app on your iPad to view the new photos.

How to Download Photos to iPad Using iCloud

Syncing from a computer isn't the only way to get photos onto an iPad. You can also download them from iCloud. The iCloud Photo Library is designed to store your photos in the cloud and automatically sync them to all devices you've set up. This way, any photos you take on your iPhone or add to your computer's photo library will be automatically added to your iPad. Enable iCloud Photo Library by following these steps:

  1. Make sure iCloud Photo Library is enabled on your computer if you use one.

    • On a Mac, click the Apple menu, select System Preferences, and then select iCloud. In the iCloud control panel, check the box next to Photos.
    • On a PC, download iCloud for Windows, install and open it, then check the iCloud Photo Library box.
  2. On your iPad (or iPhone; iCloud Photo Library works there, too), tap Settings. Then, depending on the version of the iOS you're running, either tap your name at the top of the screen or iCloud. If you tapped your name, then tap iCloud. Now tap Photos. On this screen, move the iCloud Photo Library slider to on/green.

  3. Whenever a new photo is added to your computer, iPhone, or iPad, it will be uploaded to your iCloud account and then automatically downloaded to all of your connected devices that are signed into the same iCloud account.

  4. You can also upload photos to iCloud via the web by going to iCloud.com, selecting Photos, and adding new pictures.

Other Ways to Download Photos to iPad

While iTunes and iCloud are the primary ways to get photos onto your iPad, they're not your only options. Other ways to download photos to the iPad include:

  • AirDrop: This is a feature of the iOS that lets you transfer files wirelessly between iOS devices and Macs. It's a good option for transferring a handful of photos. Learn more about using AirDrop
  • Apple Camera Adapters: Apple sells a number of cables that import photos directly to your iPad, including the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader and the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. These connect to the Lightning port on the iPad (or the Dock Connector on older models) and then connect to your digital camera or SD card. Photographers will especially want to consider these options.
  • Third Party Apps: There are a handful of third-party apps that can help you download photos to your iPad. They are primarily things like DropBox, which store your photos in the cloud and automatically sync them across multiple devices.

Can You Sync iPhone to iPad?

Since you can sync photos directly from a camera to the iPad, you may be wondering whether it's possible to sync the photos stored on an iPhone directly to an iPad. The answer is sort of.

You can sync photos between the devices if you have one of the Apple camera adapter cables just mentioned. In that case, the iPad can treat the iPhone like a camera and import photos directly.

For all other types of data, though, you're out of luck. Apple designed its syncing features to sync a device (the iPad or iPhone in this case) to a centralized system (your computer or iCloud), not device to device. That may change someday, but for now, the best you can do to sync devices directly is AirDrop.