How to Transfer Photos From a Computer to an iPhone

Getting photos onto your iPhone is easy

What to Know

  • On a Mac, open Finder, select iPhone > Photos. Tick the box for Sync photos to your device from > choose sync settings > Apply.
  • In iTunes for Windows, click the phone icon > Photos. Tick the box for Sync photos > choose sync settings > Apply.
  • Another method is to enable syncing via iCloud or move your images to Google Photos.

This article explains how to transfer photos from a Mac or PC to an iPhone, using the Finder app, iTunes for Windows, iCloud, and Google Photos.

How to Transfer Photos From a Mac to an iPhone

If you've got a Mac full of photos that you want to transfer to your iPhone, it's a pretty simple thing to do. Just follow these steps:

These instructions apply to Macs running macOS Catalina (10.15) and up. If you're using an earlier version, the basic steps are the same but use iTunes to sync your photos instead of the Finder.

  1. Begin by connecting your iPhone to your Mac. This can be done via the cable that came with your iPhone or over Wi-Fi. You may be prompted to "trust" the iPhone to sync with the computer. If so, follow the instructions on the iPhone.

  2. Open a new Finder window.

    The macOS Finder interface when you plug in your iPhone.
  3. In the left-hand sidebar, click your iPhone.

  4. Click Photos.

    Screenshot of syncing photos from Mac to iPhone using the Finder.
  5. Check the box next to Sync photos to your device from: to enable syncing.

    The interface element to use to sync photos to iPhone while in the Finder.
  6. In the drop down menu, choose the program that contains the photos you want to sync to your iPhone. In most cases, this will be the pre-installed Photos app.

    You can also choose to sync photos from a folder by clicking Choose folder... and navigating through your hard drive.

  7. Choose your sync settings. You can choose to sync All photos and albums or Selected Albums. If you choose Selected Albums, check the ones you want to sync in the box at the bottom. You can also choose to sync favorite photos and to videos.

  8. When you've chosen your settings, click Apply to save your settings and transfer photos from your Mac to your iPhone.

    If the photos don't start to transfer automatically, click the Sync button at the bottom right to start the transfer.

How to Transfer Photos From a Computer to an iPhone Using Windows

Transferring photos from a PC to an iPhone is pretty similar to using a Mac, except that you use iTunes instead of the Finder. To do this, you need:

  • iTunes 12.5.1 or higher installed on your PC. If you don't have it, you can download it for free.
  • The photos you want to transfer stored in the pre-installed Windows Photos app.

Once you've got that, here's what you need to do:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Windows PC using a cable.

  2. If iTunes doesn't open automatically, open it.

  3. If prompted, unlock your iPhone using your passcode and "trust" the phone by following the onscreen prompts.

  4. In iTunes, click the iPhone icon just beneath the playback controls in the top left corner.

    The device icon in iTunes
  5. In the left-hand sidebar, click Photos.

    The Photos heading in iTunes
  6. Check the box next to Sync photos to enable syncing.

    The Sync Photos command
  7. In the drop down, choose the program that contains the photos you want to sync to your iPhone. This should be the pre-installed Windows Photos app.

    You can also sync photos from a folder by clicking Choose folder... and navigating through your hard drive.

    The "Copy photos from" drop down menu
  8. Choose your sync settings. You can sync All photos and albums or Selected Albums. If you choose Selected Albums, check the ones you want to sync. For either option, you can also sync favorite photos and to videos.

    Sync options in iTunes
  9. When you're done, click Apply to save your settings and transfer photos from your PC to your iPhone.

    If the transfer doesn't start right away, click Sync at the bottom right to start transferring photos.

    The Apply button

How to Transfer Photos From a Computer to an iPhone Using iCloud

If you store your photos in your iCloud Photo Library, getting them from there to your iPhone is so simple you hardly have to do anything at all. Just set up your iPhone to sync with your iCloud Photo Library once and then all of your uploads will be automatically synced to your iPhone. Here's how:

  1. On your iPhone, tap Settings.

  2. Tap your name at the top of the screen.

  3. Tap iCloud.

    Steps to take to get to the iCloud setting in iOS.
  4. Tap Photos.

  5. Move the iCloud Photos slider to on/green. When you do this, photos will sync from your iCloud account to your iPhone. How long this takes depends on how many photos and videos you have and how large the files are.

    Steps needed to turn on iCloud Photos on iOS.
  6. Whenever you next want to sync photos from iCloud to iPhone, just add the photos to iCloud via the web or your Mac's Photos app. Once they upload to iCloud, they'll automatically download to your iPhone.

How to Transfer Photos From a Computer to an iPhone Using Google Photos

If you store your photos in the cloud, but prefer to use Google Photos instead of iCloud, you can still transfer photos to your iPhone. To do this, you'll need:

When you've got these three things, simply add photos to your Google Photos account from compatible apps or by dragging and dropping photos onto Google Photos site from your computer.

Then, the next time you open the Google Photos app on your iPhone, the new photos will sync to the app and be transferred to your iPhone. It's that simple!