So you’ve got a shiny new iPhone 11 Pro with its amazing triple-lens camera system. It’s a safe bet you’re putting that camera to some good use too. But while the iPhone has plenty of storage now to hold all your photos, you’ll probably want to eventually offload them to your Mac.
Why? A few simple reasons. First, your iPhone won’t hold all your photos forever–eventually, it’s going to run out of space. Second, you can just do more with your photos on a Mac, like editing them on a really large display with professional apps like Photoshop or Lightroom.
That’s why this article is going to show you how to download your photos from an iPhone to a Mac.
Manually Download Photos From An iPhone To A Mac
There are two different ways you can get your photos from your iPhone to your Mac. The first is the manual way–downloading them directly to your Mac. Specifically, the Photos app in macOS.
The Photos app on macOS is the default photos storage app on the Mac. It’s essentially the Mac counterpart to the iOS Photos app you know and love. Photos is an insanely powerful Mac app with a simple interface that makes storing and organizing all your pictures on your Mac easy.
So first let’s look at how to manually download (also known as “importing”) your photos from your iPhone to the Photos app on your Mac. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Your iPhone
- Your iPhone’s USB cable
- Your Mac
Got all those? Then just follow these steps:
- Connect your iPhone to your Mac with the iPhone’s USB cable.
- If your iPhone asks you to unlock it using your iPhone PIN, do it. This will allow your Mac to pick up that your iPhone is connected.
- Once your iPhone connects, the Photos app on your Mac should automatically launch. If it does not, open the Photos app on your Mac by double-clicking on its icon. The Photos app can be found in your Applications folder.
In the Photos app, look for your iPhone under the “Devices” header in the Photos app sidebar. Click your iPhone so its photo content appears.
- Once you’ve clicked your iPhone in the Photos app, you’ll see the iPhone’s pictures divided into two groups: “Already Imported” and “New Items.” Needless to say, you’ll only want to import the “New Items” photos because the “Already Imported” photos are already on your Mac. To import just the “New Items” photos click the blue Import All New items button in the corner of the Photos app.
- Once the import is done, you can safely disconnect your iPhone from your Mac. All your new photos will now be located on your Mac (and they’ll still be on your iPhone too).
Automatically Download Photos From An iPhone To A Mac
If the manual way seems a bit cumbersome, you can choose to automatically import your iPhone photos to the Mac. You do this via Apple’s iCloud Photos Library. What iCloud Photos Library does is automatically store every photo your take with your iPhone in the cloud.
These photos stored in the cloud (Apple’s cloud–iCloud, to be exact) are then automatically downloaded to all your other devices, like your Mac or iPad. No manually importing or download photos to your Mac required.
But to use iCloud Photos Library you’ll need a paid iCloud subscription plan. This is because photos will take a lot of online storage space, so you’ll need a lot of iCloud storage available. Apple only gives you 5GB of free iCloud storage, which is fine for iPhone iCloud backups, but nowhere near enough for iCloud Photos Library.
You can subscribe to iCloud stage plans ranging from 50GB to 1TB. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have the storage space needed to enable iCloud Photos Library on all your Mac snd iPhones. Then you just need to enable iCloud photos on both your Mac and your iPhone to have all your photos uploaded and kept in sync across both devices.
To enable iCloud Photos on your Mac and iPhone, simply do the following:
- On your iPhone, the Settings app.
- Tap your name/Apple ID at the top of the iPhone’s Settings app.
- Tap iCloud.
- Tap Photos.
- On the “Photos” screen, toggle the iCloud Photos switch to ON (green).
- Now, on your Mac, go to System Preferences.
- Click the Apple ID panel.
- Click iCloud in the sidebar.
- Make sure “Photos” is checked.
Now iCloud Photos will be set up on your iPhone and Mac and any pictures you take (or edits you make) will be synced between both your devices.
Interested in photo security? Be sure to check out Google Pixel’s Locked Folder feature!
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.