How to Transfer Photos From iPhone to iPhone

Don't leave your photos behind when you get a new iPhone

transfer photos from iPhone to iphone

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Transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone when you get a new phone to ensure you don't lose these valuable keepsakes. Pick from among several different methods of moving a lot of photos from one phone to another, as well as procedures for moving only a few photos between your phones or to another person.

Instructions in this article apply to iPhones running iOS 12, iOS 11, or iOS 10. Where iTunes on a computer is used, iTunes 12 is required.

Of course, photos aren't the only kind of data you may want to move. You may just want to transfer Contacts from iPhone to iPhone. If you'd rather transfer all data from one phone to another, make a backup and then restore from backup on the new phone.

Transfer Photos With iCloud

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The basic idea of iCloud is that all devices logged into the same iCloud account have access to all the same data on them, including photos. If you store all your photos in iCloud, it is simple to transfer photos from one device to another. The new device just logs in to iCloud with the same Apple ID to access the entire iCloud Photo Library.

The more photos you have, the more storage you need both in the cloud and on your device. An iCloud account comes with 5 GB of free storage. If you need more space, you can purchase more from Apple.

Choose the Optimize iPhone Storage setting on your iPhone to download smaller device-sized versions of the photos to your iPhone. You can download full-resolution versions at any time you need them.

Here's how it works:

  1. Log in to the new iPhone with the same Apple ID that you use with iCloud. Tap Settings on the iPhone.

  2. Tap your name at the top of the screen in iOS 12 and iOS 11. (In iOS 10, tap ​iCloud and skip to Step 4).

  3. Tap ​iCloud.

    iPhone Settings showing the iCloud location in iOS 12 and iOS 11
  4. Tap ​Photos.

  5. Move​ the iCloud Photos slider to the On/green position, and the photos begin to sync between the devices.​​

  6. Tap Optimize iPhone Storage to place a check mark next to it. This options saves space on the iPhone.

    iPhone screen for turning on iCloud Photos

Depending on how many photos you have and how fast your internet connection is, the photo downloads may take a while. Because transferring photos uses a lot of data, use Wi-Fi instead of a cellular connection to prevent exceeding your cellular data limit.

If you're transferring photos because you're getting rid of one of the iPhones, log out of iCloud before resetting that phone and deleting its data. If you don't log out of iCloud, deleting the data and photos on the phone you're getting rid of deletes them from iCloud and all devices that sync with that iCloud account.

Transfer Photos by Syncing With a Computer

stop iphone auto sync in itunes
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Another way to transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone is to sync the photos to iTunes on a computer and then use that computer to sync them to a second iPhone. This technique works the same as any other time that you transfer content from the computer to your iPhone. It also​ assumes that the second iPhone is set up to sync to the same computer with the same Apple ID.

You can choose from two ways to sync your iPhone to iTunes: using USB or over Wi-Fi.

Pick your method and follow these steps:​​

  1. Open iTunes on your computer. Sync the iPhone with the photos on it to the computer as you normally would.​​

  2. Select the iPhone icon at the top of the left panel.

    iTunes showing the device selection drow-down menu
  3. Click Photos in the Settings section and check the box next to Sync Photos, if it's not already checked.

  4. Choose where you want to sync the photos: a folder, the Photos app on Mac, or the Windows Photos app on Windows.

  5. Check the box next to All photos and albums.

  6. Click Apply to save the changes​ and sync the photos to the iPhone.

    iTunes Sync Photos settings
  7. When the sync is done, check the syncing location to make sure all the photos are present.​

  8. Click Done and disconnect the iPhone from iTunes.​​

  9. Connect the second iPhone to iTunes. 

  10. Repeat the sync process (Steps 2 through 6) with the new phone.

  11. When the sync is complete, check the Photos app on the iPhone to make sure the images transferred.

  12. Disconnect the iPhone from iTunes.

Transfer Photos With Photo Apps Like Google Photos

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If you're into iPhone photography, there's a good chance you use a photo-sharing service like Google Photos. Because these kinds of apps and services ​are designed to make the photos added to them available on any device where you use the app, they can also help you transfer photos to a new phone. 

There are many different photo-sharing apps, but the basic concepts for how to transfer photos are roughly the same for all of them. Adapt these steps as needed:

  1. Create an account with the app or service you prefer.

  2. Install the app on your iPhone if you haven't already done so.

  3. Upload all the photos you want to transfer to the app or service on your iPhone.

  4. On the second iPhone, install the app and sign in to the account you created in Step 1.

  5. When you sign in, the photos you uploaded from the original iPhone download to the new iPhone. 

Transfer Photos With AirDrop

Using AirDrop on iPhone
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If you only need to transfer a couple of photos between your two phones or want to share them with another nearby person with an iOS device, AirDrop is your best bet. It's an easy and fast wireless file-sharing feature built into the iPhone. To use AirDrop you need:

  • An iOS device​​ running iOS 7 or higher
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled
  • Devices that are within a few feet of each other and on the same network.

With those conditions met, follow these steps to transfer photos using AirDrop:​

  1. Open the Photos app on the iPhone and locate the photos you want to share​​.​

  2. Tap Select​​ at the top of the screen.​

  3. Tap ​the photos you want to share​ to place a check mark on them.

  4. Tap the ​Share icon (the box with the arrow coming out of it) at the bottom of the app to open the Sharing screen.

    Selection process for photos for AirDrop

  5. Nearby devices that can receive files via AirDrop appear in the Sharing screen under Tap to share with AirDrop. Tap the one you want to send the photos to.

  6. If both devices are signed in with the same Apple ID, the transfer happens right away.

If one device uses a different Apple ID (because it belongs to someone else, for example), a pop-up on the screen asks the owner to Decline or Accept the transfer.

Transfer Photos Using Email

Man using iPhone

Another option for transferring a couple of photos is email. Don't use email to send more than two or three photos or to send large high-resolution photos because that can burn up your monthly data. However, to quickly share a couple of photos either with yourself or with someone else, these steps make emailing them easy. The process is similar to using AirDrop until you get to the Sharing screen.

  1. Tap the Photos app to open it and browse through your photos until you find the picture or pictures you want to email.

  2. Tap Select at the top of the screen.

  3. Tap the photos you want to email.

  4. Tap the Share icon (the square with the arrow coming out of it) to open the Sharing screen.

    Path to Sharing screen from iPhone Photos app
  5. Tap Mail. A new email opens with the selected photo(s) in it.

    Emailing a photo from the Sharing screen
  6. Fill out the email with an address, subject, and body.

  7. Tap Send.

Need to move photos from your standalone digital camera to your iPhone instead? Learn how in how to transfer photos from your camera to your iPhone.