How do I get photos off my iPhone?

April 29, 2009

How do I get photos off my iPhone?There are two main ways to move the photos taken with your iPhone onto your computer, one way for Mac OS X users and another for Vista PC users. We’ll look at both below.

It should be simple to move photos from your iPhone to your computer, and it actually is. However, it is not immediately apparent how to perform this somewhat simple process. If you are using a Mac running OSX, the process is fairly automated. To get started, plug in your iPhone like you were syncing it or charging it. Either cancel the sync or wait until iTunes finishes the job.

Then run the iPhoto application, which is probably in your toolbar. In the menu at the upper left of the iPhoto screen, you will find a category for “Devices.” Under that entry, you will find an entry which represents your iPhone. Click on that entry  and the photos on your iPhone will appear. In order to keep things simple, I check the box “Autosplit events after importing.” If you do not want iPhoto to handle this automatically, uncheck this box and fill in an event name and description to be used by iPhoto. Also check the box marked “Hide photos already imported.” Then the only photos you will see are those that have been taken since you last last imported from the iPhone.

If you don’t want to import all of the iPhone photos shown, you can use the normal methods to select one or several of the photos to be imported. If you have selected some of the photos to import to the computer, click on the “Import Selected” command button to import the selected photos. If you want to import all of the photos on the iPhone, click on the “Import All” command button.

After the import is complete, you will be given a choice whether you want to “Delete Originals” which will erase the photos from the iPhone, or to “Keep Originals” which will leave the original photos on the iPhone. Select the command that represents the choice you want to make and click on it. That’s all there is to it.

In Windows Vista, you can copy your photos off the iPhone in much the same way that you would remove photos from any other digital camera without a photo management application in place. Syncing photos with the iPhone using iTunes has proven problematical at best on both the Mac and the PC. You are much better off to use this simple method to copy photos.

To get started, plug your iPhone into your Vista PC, using the cord that came with the phone. Vista will detect the iPhone as a device, and will display an options window allowing you to select the action that you want to take. Select the top option, “Import Pictures” from the list. You should probably not select the box in front of “Always do this for this device” just in order to always keep your options open.

You will then see a window asking you to add a tag to the pictures you are importing to make them easier to find later. This is a good idea. Try to include three things: an event keyword or key-phrase, the date, and the word iPhone. For example My-Birthday-June-2008-iPhone. Then, later, it will be easy to find this particular batch of photos using one or more of those keywords. Under “Options” you can choose whether or not to erase the photos from your iPhone after the copy is complete.

Finally, click on the “Import” button at the lower right of the window. Vista will copy your photos to your hard disk, and then will use its Photo Gallery application to display the photos that you have copied from the iPhone to your PC. No need to sync, just a simple automated copy of photos, and you’re done.

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21 Responses to “How do I get photos off my iPhone?”

  1. Jack W 88:

    As well as also Aperture, Mac OS X has “Image Capture” application which gives a lot more control at managing images on your iPhone, or camera, or stick, or whatever…

  2. Jennifer:

    I am having the same problem. I have Vista and when I connect my iPhone to the computer, iTunes automatically starts syncing everything (music, apps, etc) but there are no prompts from vista or any other photo app asking me if I want to import photos…and so I can’t get them off of the iPhone onto the computer…HELP!!!

  3. dsads:


  4. biba:

    i found this info vey well helpful and the technique worked so thank you.

  5. Stacy:

    I plugged in my phone, went to my deskptop on Vista, right click on iphone icon and imported pictures. So easy.

  6. Russ:

    What iphone icon on your desktop? I have no such icon. I am unable to use the above procedure. I have checked other sites to turn on autorun, but I still cannot import my pictures.

  7. Trace:

    Unfortunately, this only delete ‘Camera Roll’ pics. When I first synced my iphone, 173 pics imported into my phone. When Vista asked me if i wanted to import, it only detected the 7 i took with the iphone. How can i delete the imported pics?

  8. John:

    Im in Vista with my i phone plugged hooked up to the computer. I can not find the screen you talk about. Nothing comes up automaticly Im tring to get the pics off my phone and onto my laptop so i can manage them. Im sooooo frustrated. can you help???

  9. Ren:

    Here’s how I take pictures off my iPhone 3gs. It’s very simple. Right click on the start menu and highlight “Explore”. When the explore window pops up, look in the left hand side in the list of folders and select “Computer” or if you don’t see that, click on the folder “Desktop” then inside, you click on the “Computer” folder. Inside that folder should be a list of drives such as OS (C:) CD Drive (D:), etc. There should also be an iPhone icon with your iPhones name on it. Click that, then click “Internal Storage”, “DCIM”, “100 Apple”. All of your photos should be right there. Right click to copy or cut them and move them to your computer! ;) Hope I’ve helped!

  10. Lisa:

    If you want to print your photos you can without even moving them to your computer – try an app called ‘Spool’ – they printed and delivered to me next day which was awesome. UK only though…

  11. Sandy Smith:

    To Ren, are the pictures you are able to access under DCIM only the pictures take with the iPhone? I have been doing research to help a friend get pictures off his iPhone that were not taken with the iPhone (he synced them onto the iPhone – then his hard drive failed leaving the only copy of the pictures on his iPhone.) I have read the iPhone cannot be read as a mass storage device to get them off. Apple care has told him to email them to himself (but there are over 1000.) So if you are really reading the “Internal Storage” this is good news. Unfortunately I don’t have an iPhone to see myself. Please let me just how much you are able to do accessing the iPhone via “Internal storage.” Thanks!

  12. a175rgr:

    If you can’t import photos from your iPhone to your computer (whether Mac of PC), you might want to check to see if you have any photos in the camera roll on your iPhone that did not originate from the iPhone camera (i.e. someone emailed you, taken on another camera, received from your computer, copied from the internet, etc.). If you do then Apple disables your ability to import or sync ANY photos contained on your iPhone until the non-originating photos are removed from the iPhone camera roll. The only work around is to email those non-originating pictures to yourself and then delete them to re-enable your ability to import/sync the remaining photos. I know it’s a pain. Of course you could let Apple know how unsatisfactory this is at:

  13. VicsF:

    Hi, I don’t get an iPhone icon on my Vista (whether going through Computer or Desktop then Computer). I can sometimes download the photos from my iPhone onto my laptop (Vista) but it is completely random. I agree that I just get that synching, but sometimes it asks me if I want to download the photos. But that is total luck. At the moment, I can’t get it it do it. The only way my computer recognises my iPhone is with the synching process. Please help???

  14. beau:

    All this just to remove a friggin pic from your iphone to a pc? Whatever happen to drop and drag?

  15. TR:

    If you’re like me and STILL could not figure this out based on the instructions above, try this. When you’re iTunes is open and your iPhone is plugged in, click on the iPhone icon to get to the settings. On the Summary tab, under Options, uncheck the button that says “Open iTunes when this iPhone is connected.” then apply, after they sync, close your iTunes, and unplug and replug in the iPhone. you should now get the prompt for importing pictures and follow the instructions as stated above. Worked for me…finally!!! 787 photos later!!!!

  16. fuck you:

    None of this worked. Why would they make this so hard?

  17. sam:

    talk about confusing it takes so long to down load i tunes hope its straight foward from here grr

  18. Kimsland:

    To See IPhone in ‘My Computer’ in Windows XP

    Ensure the following services are started:
    Note: To view and edit services; select Start > Run > Services.msc > ok
    • Bonjour Service
    If ‘Apple Mobile Device’ and ‘iPod Service’ exists, start them too

    Then go to: Scanners and Cameras in Control Panel and select ‘Add Device’
    By the way this wizard requires the following services started:
    • Shell Hardware Detection
    • Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)

    Many users state to select IPhone in the wizard
    But I didn’t have it listed, so I just selected the first one in the list (Agfa) then selected Next
    Obviously this installed this device, but miraculously it ALSO installed IPhone as well :)
    I then deleted the (Agfa) device I just installed, leaving IPhone still there

    Close the Scanners and Cameras window
    Open My Computer, and you can now see ‘IPhone’
    View and copy / paste your pictures :)

    Hope that helps someone :)

  19. rain:

    Followed TR’s advice (6/24/10) today and did get my photos from Iphone to computer (yea). However, when I next synced I phone, I now have two more albums of the same pictures that were on my Iphone to begin with! Help! The original photos are on Camera Roll album. Now have album called Photo Library with all photos, and an album titled today’s date with all photos. What next?

  20. Paula:

    FINALLY…I followed TR’s advice from 6/24/20:If you’re like me and STILL could not figure this out based on the instructions above, try this. When you’re iTunes is open and your iPhone is plugged in, click on the iPhone icon to get to the settings. On the Summary tab, under Options, uncheck the button that says “Open iTunes when this iPhone is connected.” then apply, after they sync, close your iTunes, and unplug and replug in the iPhone.

    THEN: I right clicked on my computer after the above and my iphone icon showed up!!!! Right click and FINALLY it gave me the import pictures prompt!!!!

    Thanks TR :)

  21. Paula:

    oops………6/24/10, lol (more coffee please!)

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