How to Transfer Photos From Your iPad to Your PC

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It's hard to believe considering all that Apple does well how poorly they've done photo management. They've attempted two cloud services -- Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Library -- and still, the simple process of copying photos from your iPad to your PC is not nearly as straightforward as it should be. You can sync photos using iTunes, but that copies entire photos at a time. If you want more fine control over how you transfer your photos to your PC, there are a few methods you can use.  

How to Copy Photos From Your iPad to Windows

It is possible to plug your iPad into your PC using the Lightning cable and navigate to the folders like the iPad was a Flash drive. However, Apple divides the photos and videos into dozens of folders under one main "DCIM" folder, which makes it much more difficult to keep organized. But luckily, you can use the Photos app in Windows 10 and Windows 8 to import the photos as if the iPad were a camera.  

  • First, hook your iPad up to your PC using the Lightning or 30-pin connector that came with your iPad.
  • Next, use the search bar on the windows toolbar to search for "Photos." If you are using Windows 8 in desktop mode, you may need to switch to the tiled mode to execute the search. If Windows cannot find the Photos app, you can download it from Microsoft as part of the essentials bundle. 
  • In the Photos app, navigate to the album where you want the photos and right-click on a blank portion of the screen and choose Import. If you accidentally click on a photo, you will get a different menu, so make sure you click outside of one of the images. 
  • When you choose Import, a menu will appear asking from which device you want to import the photos. Your iPad should be clearly labeled on this screen. After you choose the iPad, Windows will read your photos. This may take a few seconds depending on how many photos you have on the iPad.
  • By default, all of your photos will be selected. If you only want to transfer a subset of photos, you will need to unselect them in the selection screen. When you are done, click Continue.
  • The big decision on the next screen is whether or not to delete the photos after they are imported. We recommend leaving this unchecked. If you are clearing space on your iPad, you should verify that they photos transferred properly before deleting them from your iPad. (Also remember you will need to delete them from the Recently Deleted folder on your iPad to permanently delete them.) 

Windows 7 and Previous Versions  

Unfortunately, the Photos app only works on the newest versions of Windows. In Windows 7, you may be able to import them by connecting your iPad to the PC, opening My Computer and navigating to the iPad in the Devices and Drives area. If you right-click the iPad, you should get an Import Pictures and Videos option. However, you won't be able to select the exact photos to transfer. If you want more control over the process, you will need to use the cloud as a way to transfer them. This is explained below the Mac instructions. 

How to Copy Photos to a Mac

With the Mac, you don't need to worry about whether or not you have the Photos app. Unless you are using a very old Mac and a very old version of Mac OS, you do. That makes the process relatively straightforward. 

  • First, connect your iPad to the Mac using the supplied cable.
  • Sometimes, the Photos app automatically launches. If it doesn't, you can run the Photos app by clicking the Launchpad icon and typing Photos to narrow down the app list.
  • When Photos launches, it should detect your iPad and open the Import screen. If it doesn't, you can click the Import tab. 
  • Select the photos you want to transfer and click Import Selected at the top of the screen.
  • When the Mac is finished, it will ask if you want to delete the photos on your iPad. You may want to verify the photos are in the right place before manually deleting them from the iPad. (And deleting them from the Recently Deleted folder if you need the storage space.) 

How to Use the Cloud to Copy Photos

Another great option is to use the cloud to copy photos to your PC or other devices. Dropbox and some other cloud solutions have a photo sync feature that will automatically upload your photos when you launch the app. And even if they do not have this feature, you can manually copy the photos.

The downside to using the cloud comes if you have limited storage space on your cloud account. Most free accounts only allow a limited amount of storage space. To get around this, you may have to go to your PC and manually move the photos out of the cloud storage area and onto the computer's file system. 

You will need to refer to your individual cloud service on how to transfer files to and from your devices, but most are pretty straightforward. If you do not have cloud storage beyond the iCloud storage provided with your iPad, you can set up Dropbox.