I friend of mine has no space left on her iPhone, so we bought a external harddrive and try to transfer the photos and videos from the iPhone to the harddrive. I am using windows 10.

I unlocked the phone and connected it to the computer, it appears in the file explorer.

enter image description here

I was able to move all files appearing in there to the external harddrive (I was unable to delete the folders btw, I had to open each folder and delete all files there...)

I thought that was it, but if I open the iPhone and go to photos then there are still thousands of photos, even though the folder "Internal Storage" appearing on windows is empty.

There are also still photos and videos on the iPhone which are not on the external harddrive.

What is going on?

How can I move all media from the iPhone to the external harddrive?!

I also tried it via iTunes, but the "synchronize" field is grayed out even after restarting windows.

I also tried to transfer all the files from iCloud to the computer, but there is a limit of 1000 Photos. So I installed iCloud for Windows, but the software does not work. The sync is not triggered at all.

Update: I figured out that I have to trigger the synch by clicking on the icon on the down right in the tray. Now I can synchronize the data between the computer and the iPhone

  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – anki
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:11
  • 1
    So basically you‘ve removed the files from the iPhone already via Explorer, but the iPhone still thinks they are there? Did you restart the phone already, and start Photos? Is any kind of photo syncing active in the phone?
    – nohillside
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:48
  • @nohillside, The phone does not show all photos/videos in file explorer, only a part of it. And if I move/delete these photos/videos in file explorer, then there are still plenty of photos/videos on the phone, unlike on android where it behaves exactly like a USB stick
    – Black
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 6:09
  • 1
    @black I believe iCloud for windows software is the best way to go. Can you add details about how it didn’t work? What were the sync settings of photos in there?
    – anki
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 7:37
  • 1
    I will provide more details if I am at my friend again. I don't have access to the phone atm.
    – Black
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 7:38

3 Answers 3


iCloud for Windows

  • Download the software from Windows Store and sign in with the Apple ID photos are used with.

  • Open the options for photos and tick all the options which make original photos stored on the PC.

  • Go to Favourites in File Explorer and click download photos. Select all. Wait for the process to complete.

To remove photos from iPhone, turn off iCloud photo Library first.

Assuming you have Download originals set in iPhone photos preferences, Go to iCloud settings and turn off Photos. This ensures that all the changes made in iPhone will not be reflected in iCloud photo library and thus not on the PC.

Deleting on iPhone moves the photos in Recently Deleted and takes upto 30 days to delete if not done manually.

Now go to iCloud for Windows where hopefully all the items are stored locally by now. Turning off photos as it was turned on as said above, will delete all the photos in iCloud, free up storage and only place where your photos are will be PC.

Apple Data Download

  • Go to https://privacy.apple.com and sign in.

  • Request download for photos and videos or any other thing you want.

  • After being notified via mail, Get the compressed file and make sure that all the media is there.

Now whether iCloud for photos is turned off or not, deleting photos from iPhone removes them from iCloud too.


To resolve the issue, installing latest version from Windows Store should help. Also Authorise the PC by going to Account Menu and entering the password on the prompt. If there's a prompt at iPhone while plugging in, tap "Trust". If still persists, there is a long list of actions at Apple Support Article to troubleshoot iTunes not recognising iPhone etc.

- I don't use windows so cannot answer about how to use usb cable to do the same.

- There one more answer at Originals from iCloud photo library to pc which uses python script.

- This question about transfer videos from iPhone to PC using cable had a bounty too. Answers suggest that Windows7 works perfectly, 10 doesn't. So this no longer remains a problem for Apple.SE.

  • Thx, I will try asap and let you know.
    – Black
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 11:21
  • @Black I did see your update, you should have synced all the photos in your iPhone to those in the PC right? Any updates after that ?
    – anki
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 16:17
  • I did all steps and then I unchecked the photos in iCloud for Windows, but the photos were only deleted on my local PC but not in iCloud. I had to login to iCloud and manually delete all the photos in sets of 1000 because you can only delete 1000 at a time. It took me a few hours to finish... while on Android it would be much faster and uncomplicated... She will buy a android next time after all that horror.
    – Black
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 6:18

I have had success with simply mounting and using File Explorer to locate the DCIM directory and copying it out. However, I found it easiest to delete the photos from within the Photos app on the phone itself, despite how tedious that is.

You have to go into the Photos app, select the camera roll album, press 'Select' at the top right, and drag to select the photos you want to delete. I recommend deleting in batches instead of trying to select them all in one go. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually delete the photos, it just moves them to the 'Recently Deleted' folder. Go to that folder, click 'Select' then 'Delete All'.

Yes it's tedious, but it works every time and I've gotten pretty fast at doing it.

  • My question is obviously not about how to delete or copy photos/videos but to move them to my computer... -1
    – Black
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 6:08
  • 2
    In computer parlance, 'move' from one device to another is the same as 'copy' followed by 'delete'.
    – Barrett
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 6:46
  • Yes, but copy and delete are two steps, while move will do the same in one step automatically
    – Black
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 6:50
  • But if the photo library doesn’t allow you to do so, we cannot change it. Majority of people here use Mac. I don’t know if there’s a PC stack or not.
    – anki
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 7:36

How to transfer photos from your iPhone or iPad using the Windows 10 Photos app

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also use the Windows Photos app to import your photos. It can easily transfer your photos in bulk, and the app is very nice for looking at your pictures.

  1. Install iTunes — this ensures your computer can communicate with your iPhone or iPad even if you don't specifically use iTunes to transfer files.
  2. Plug in your iPhone or iPad with your Lightning to USB or 30-pin Dock to USB cable.
  3. Launch the Photos app from your desktop, Start menu, or taskbar.
  4. Click Import — it is located at the top right of the window.
  5. Click any photos you'd like to not import. They will all be imported by default.
  6. Click Continue. Your photos will now be imported into the Photos app.

The photos will be located in the Windows Pictures folder by default but you can move them into the external hard drive.

How to transfer photos from iPhone or iPad to Windows 10 using iCloud

Windows 10 has the ability to use iCloud to wirelessly sync your photos as long as you've backed up the photos on your iPhone or iPad to iCloud. Here's how to do it.

  1. Launch your favorite web browser from the Start menu, taskbar, or desktop.
  2. Navigate to the iCloud for Windows download site.
  3. Click Download. You might have to scroll down a bit to find it.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Click Run when the download his finished.
  6. Click I accept the terms….
  7. Click Install.
  8. Click Finish. Your computer will restart and, upon restart, the iCloud window will automatically appear.
  9. Type your Apple ID.
  10. Type your password.
  11. Click Sign In.
  12. Click the Options button next to Photos.
  13. Click the box next to My Photo Stream so that a checkmark appears.
  14. Click the box next to Upload new photos from my PC so that the checkmark disappears. You can set these options how you'd like, but this ensures you're just getting the photos off your iPhone or iPad onto your PC.
  15. Click Done.
  16. Click Apply. Any photos in your iCloud will now download to your PC.

The photos will be located in the Windows Pictures\iCloud\Downloads folder by default but you can move them into the external hard drive.

You can find both iTunes and iCloud for Windows in the Windows 10 Store

Both steps provided by iMore.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .