I currently sync ~3000 photos from my PC onto my iPhone 3GS. These photos are split into folders on my PC and these folders show up in the Photos app on my iPhone. However, these photos don't show up under the "Camera Roll".

The iCloud Backups page states that iCloud backs up "Photos and video in the Camera Roll".


I would like to make sure that all my photos get included in an iCloud backup - Is there any way to convert my synced folders so that all the pictures show up in my Camera Roll and the folders show up as regular Photo folders which I can add/delete on my iPhone?

If not, is it possible to get my existing sync'd photos included in iCloud backups?

7 Answers 7


There is no supported way to do that, for two reasons: the backup would grow huge, rapidly consuming iCloud space, and non-camera-roll photos are resized to display well on the iPhone while taking minimum space. As such, they're not the "original" photos any more. Backing them up would be a false sense of security.

The best solution is to back up the PC. The My Pictures folder will get backed up with the rest of your PC data, and you'll have copies of the original, non-resizd images should disaster strike.

  • 1
    This answer from 10 years ago is now obsolete.
    – Daniel K.
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 14:51

There isn't anyway of moving all of the photos at once, but if you have one photo, you can click the edit button and a message saying "Duplicate and Edit" will show up at the bottom of the screen. If you click on that, the photo will automatically go to the camera roll. You can do like 100 a day and eventually you'll have all. Then, once your done you can un-sync them.

  • 1
    On a current iOS there's a way to select all images. So basically this answer from 10 years ago is incorrect. See answer "It is possible to convert synced photos to camera roll".
    – Daniel K.
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 14:53

Sync your images via iTunes (all of them). When the album gets copied, go inside, Click select, click select all. After that, click the share icon in the left bottom. Click duplicate there and your stuff will get stored in camera roll. From there, go to iTunes on your MAC/PC and un-check the Sync Photos option. And sync your iPhone. You're done.

IOS 10.3.3

  • That worked for me. iOS 14.4.1 and iPhone 11.
    – Daniel K.
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 14:49

It is possible to convert synced photos to camera roll.

The Apple Community post "Syncing" Photos from iTunes into Camera Roll shows how.

Note that duplicating a large number of images will take a long time, I had something like 500 images and it took at least 10 minutes.

This method is the fastest way to do this that I know of. Note that creating an album out of your synced folder does not do the same thing as duplicating these pictures.

Even when connecting to my phone from a computer with iTunes installed:

  • I was not able to find a way to get access to the synced photo data in iTunes, and
  • Synced folders are not shown in the DCIM folder.

From what I have read there are some third party programs that might be able to help with this as well, but I was looking for a builtin solution.

Process for "duplicating" a synced image folder to Camera Roll:

  1. Open the photos app and open the synced photo folder (it might be under the category "From My Mac").
  2. In the top right corner, hit select
  3. Select the images you want to "convert" to camera roll images (or use Select All in the upper left corner)
  4. Hit the button that looks like a square with an up arrow coming out of it (in the lower left corner), a menu will show on the bottom of the phone
  5. On the lower scroll bar, scroll over until you see a "Duplicate" button, if you press that your iPhone will copy the photo to your camera roll.

Photos that are transferred using this method are then treated as normal Camera Roll pictures.

Moving synced images to a non-camera roll album

If you would prefer to put the images in an album other than Camera Roll when duplicating them, you can add your synced folder's images to a new album and then duplicate them; all of the duplicated images will be placed in that album instead of being put in Camera Roll.

To do this, select all of your synced images (Select -> Select All), then click "Add To" and you can then add them to an existing album or a new album.

Then, duplicate all of these images using the same steps shown above for the Camera Roll.

After this process is done,

  • You will now be able to connect your phone to your computer and copy the pictures out of the DCIM folder (which is what I did) without having to worry about losing any previously synced folders that you don't have access to anymore.
  • You will be able to delete these photos without doing a sync

I did this on iOS 12, in case this behavior changes on later versions of iOS.

  • 1
    That process worked for me (iOS 14.4.1 and iPhone 11).
    – Daniel K.
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 14:55

Photos in the Camera Roll is backed up to Photostream and deleted after a month. You can't add photos back to the Camera Roll as far as I am aware.

All other photos are transferred using the normal sync via iTunes and not backed up to iCloud at all. The best suggestion I have for the amount of photos your dealing with is to use either iPhoto or Aperture to manage them and sync them the way you currently are. Use something like Time Capsule to back your machine up.

  • 1
    As per the linked page and the text I already quoted, pics in your camera roll are definitely included in iCloud backups.
    – mchr
    Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 15:59
  • mchr: only if you enable Backup to iCloud for the device instead of backing up to iTunes. The two of you are talking about 2 seperate components here: 1. The general full device backup to iCloud which can replace USB iTunes backup. And 2. Photostream which temporarily "backs up" to the iCloud, but isn't really a backup as much as it is a 30 day window to view your new photos before they disappear from Photostream. Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 20:42

Well, there's not really a way to do that.

But I have an idea that might just work! Redo that! Sync your photos not on the Camera Roll, normally. Then, when you download them, screenshot (press both buttons on your iPhone at the same time) in the clear image you want.

The image will be saved in your Camera Roll. Delete some other pics if it takes much space, but if you take a clear shot, the photo will be like any other, only saved on your Camera Roll. Then, unsync your photos.

  • 1
    Creating screenshots to transfer photos to the camera roll is not the way to go. Especially not if you want to transfer so many photos.
    – Daniel K.
    Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 14:48

send pics from your mac to iPhone using airdrop it will save in camera roll.

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