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How could I transfer photos from a Mac to an iPhone? I don't want to use iCloud Photo Library or Photo Stream. I think there is some way to do it using iTunes.

I would like it if the photos were stored on the iPhone so that they would be available offline through the Photos app on the iPhone. Is there any way to do this?

7 Answers 7

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Create a folder on your Mac and copy photos you want to have on your iPhone to that folder. Open iTunes with your iPhone connected to it (using cable or via Wi-Fi). Click on iPhone icon at the top of iTunes and then click on Photos (left side of iTunes). Chose the folder you have created on Mac and select options you want (All folders or selected folders) if the folder contains video - you might want to select "include videos" checkbox. Click in Sync at the bottom/right of the iTunes window and wait until synchronisation finishes. Check Photos app on your iPhone for the folder that has the same name as the one you have created on your Mac.

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  • Thanks! I have a few questions about this: 1) Will these photos be available offline on the iPhone; 2) Will I be able to access the photos on the Photos app on the iPhone by doing this; and 3) If I delete the folder I made on the Mac and sync the iPhone to iTunes on the Mac later, will the photos get deleted? Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 21:34
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I have been using iMazing (on the Mac) and FileApp (on the iPhone) which make it very simple, and you can just drag and drop your files back and forth.

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  • Would I need to install both iMazing and FileApp? Or could I just install iMazing on the Mac to transfer the photos? Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 21:39
  • It's best to install both. From what I understand, you could use iMazing to modify the OS folders (such as the photo folder) and drag them directly, but I don't recommend doing so as it could crash your Photo roll and / or your iPhone. Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 21:41
  • Thanks! So let me just get this straight: I would make an album on my iPhone and I would install iMazing and FileApp. Then, from the computer, I would use iMazing to transfer the photos from the computer to the new album on the iPhone. Could I then view the photos through the iPhone's Photos app? Or would I have to use FileApp? Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 0:50
  • You got it! File App has a file viewer, that you can use to see photos / PDF / movies / etc; and you can swipe between photos and zoom in photos right from FileApp. So, FileApp is great for a portfolio, for example (that's how I use it). You can also check each photo and decide to move it to your Camera Roll if you so desire, and then they will behave like any other photo you take (for example, this is good for putting SLR photos or videos into Instagram for example). Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 1:26
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It's now April, 2021. One might think that an ostensibly simple task such as transferring a photo from your computer to your phone would have become easier. But that doesn't seem to be the case - perhaps Apple will, at some point in the future, come to realize this simple task has been needlessly complicated. But I digress...

I found myself faced with this requirement earlier this week. After searching out, and trying a few "solutions", nothing worked - I simply could not get the photos transferred from my Macbook Pro 16.1 (macOS Catalina) to my iPhone 11 (iOS 14.4).

This was particularly frustrating because I had actually taken the photos with my iPhone, then transferred them to my MBP! The iPhone->MBP transfer was simple and easy with the Photos app on my MBP. But as is my usual practice, I selected the "delete after transfer" option to save space on my iPhone. In this case however, posting the photos online had to be done from an iPhone app instead of via a browser :(

Lesson Learned: The iPhone->MBP transfer via the Photos app is a one-way street... you can get back to where you began, but the MBP->iPhone requires a completely different route!

I grew tired and annoyed trying different "Apple Solutions" published on the Internet - I caved in, and called Apple Care. It was a fairly lengthy session as the technician had to research the task. This was perhaps complicated by the fact that I refused to pay $0.99/month to add enough additional storage to my iCloud to implement the technician's preferred solution. In any event, what follows is actually Apple Care's solution - not mine:

This assumes the pictures you want to copy to your iPhone are in your Mac's Photos Library:

  1. In Photos on your Mac, create a new Album under My Albums by hovering over My Albums line & clicking the + symbol.

  2. Give this folder a name; e.g. TheAwkwardAlbum as shown in Figure 1 below.

  3. Copy each of the pictures you want on your iPhone to TheAwkwardFolder by dragging them from your Photos Library.

  4. Connect your iPhone to your Mac via USB cable.

  5. Open a Finder window, and select your iPhone from the Locations list on the left side of the window.

  6. When the Finder window opens with the iPhone contents, select the Photos tab at the top, then make the other selections as shown in Figure 2 below.

  7. Click the Sync button in the lower right-hand corner of the Finder window o copy the photos to your iPhone.

  8. You should now be able to see the photos on your iPhone:

    • open the iPhone Photos app
    • select Albums at the bottom of the screen
    • scroll down to see From My Mac, and TheAwkwardAlbum
  9. Rejoice?


Figure 1: Screenshot of Photos app on Mac

Figure 1: Add an Album

Figure 2: Screenshot of Finder app on Mac with iPhone selected

Figure 2: Finder Photos tab for iPhone

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  • I usually just airdrop them...
    – nohillside
    Commented Apr 22, 2021 at 6:48
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You could download a Dropbox app on both devices and you'll be able to share photos without a usb cable but internet is required.

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AirDrop works well between iOS and OS X system. Thus you are able to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac via AirDrop. With huge functions, AirDrop enables users to sync contacts, videos, music, password and any other things among Apple devices. As a result, AirDrop is very popular out of other photo transfer apps.

  1. Launch “Finder” on your Mac. Choose AirDrop on the left pane.
  2. Select “Contacts Only” or “Everyone” to be discovered according to your needs.
  3. Go to your iPhone. Launch “Control Center” after swiping up your iPhone.
  4. Turn on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And then choose AirDrop to select “Contacts only” or “Everyone” on your iPhone.
  5. Go back to your Mac. Drag and drop images to the Finder. Select the name of your iPhone’s.
  6. You will see the prompt of receiving on your iPhone. Click “Save” to get transferred photos from Mac to iPhone.

You can also choose to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone with AirDrop by using context menu or share sheet. Though the most direct way is to drag and drop photos to the devices you want to sync. Moreover, make sure your iPhone and Mac connect the same wireless network.

Or you can choose to use Wireless Transfer app to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone.

If you are tired of using normal way to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone, Wireless Transfer app is a good choice to sync images between two different devices. You can also try when you want to transfer photos from iPhone to computer. Just make sure that your Mac and iOS device has connected the same network before transferring photos.

  1. Download and install Wireless Transfer app on your iPhone.
  2. Connect your Mac and iPhone with the same Wi-Fi network.
  3. Open Wireless Transfer app on your iPhone.
  4. Choose “Receive” icon on the home page. You will see a URL address after that.
  5. Turn to your Mac. Type and open a web browser with that address.
  6. Tap “Upload images and videos” button.
  7. Click “Upload” button to select photos so you can transfer photos from Mac to iPhone.

Viewing of saving transferred photos from Mac to iPhone in a certain folder. You can choose “Upload to album” icon or “Create a new album” to keep them. You are not required to download Wireless Transfer app on your Mac with the address on your iPhone. But if you download and install it on OS X, you can manage pictures more conveniently.

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If you have OS X Yosemite you can easily (wifi must be on on both devices) share files from your Mac to you iOS device by using AirDrop.

More information : https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203106

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  • Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone.
    – nohillside
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 11:22
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File transfer to iPhones requires iTunes. So all Apple instructions are based on that. If you do not have iTunes (why not?) , you cannot follow those instructions.

With that said, there are Apps in the App store that allow you to transfer files outside of iTunes. But it depends on the App in question.

Some let you upload files to them via a browser (over Wifi), other's make the iPhone act as a USB drive. Many use iTunes File Sharing ability.

Depending on the App is what you need to do.

File Manager allows you to do this over Wifi via a Browser for example, without having iTunes at all: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7435735

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