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Let's say that I have a large file on my iOS device. Let's also say that:

  • I don't have internet (or the more likely scenario, AirDrop isn't working for some reason)
  • I don't want to download third-party apps to get this done
  • I have a cable that can connect my iOS device to my Mac

How do I transfer this large file from my iOS device to my Mac, without using AirDrop or the internet? Is there a way without having to resort to third-party apps on either my iDevice or my Mac?

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2 Answers 2

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If the file in question is a large video or image file visible in the Photos app on your iOS/iPadOS device, you can connect the device directly to your Mac via a cable (Lightning and/or USB-C on iOS/iPadOS device, USB-A or USB-C on Mac) and use the Image Capture.app on your Mac to directly transfer it.

If it's a file stored in one of the apps installed on your iOS/iPadOS device that supports File Sharing, you can again connect the iOS/iPadOS device to your Mac directly via cable, and use iTunes (macOS Mojave and earlier) or Finder (macOS Catalina) to directly transfer it.

If none of the above applies, and your large file is accessible via the Files app on your iOS/iPadOS device, you can use a removable storage media, to transfer the file natively.

iOS/iPadOS supports transferring files by connecting removable storage. Invest into one of the USB-C or Lightning removable storage device. You can even find some listed on Apple Online Store:

Example:

  1. SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Go: 256GB, 128GB, 64GB.

  2. SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C: 128GB, 64GB.

The same or a similar product can be connected to an iOS/iPadOS device, and Apple's Files app can be used to transfer the file to and from the storage. The same can also be connected the a Mac.

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Finder and a cable might be the simplest on Catalina and newer macOS (music / iTunes does the same function on older OS).

I often use AirDrop to move files point to point in a mesh network. You can do this even without WiFi router or base station.

A more durable solution would be to configure a file sharing service and then use the files app on iOS to move things.

These are free, Apple designed, Apple supported and don’t require any cable or dongle. Finder can access files over USB as well if you enable trust when you connect them.

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  • Rather strange that it requires setup to achieve something like this. On Android I believe you can simply transfer files without using Bluetooth/Wifi just by connecting it to the computer and dragging files into the folder the pops up
    – Oion Akif
    Jan 7, 2021 at 20:10
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    Did you check out the last link and use Finder? @SkeletonBow I’ll edit that in first to the post.
    – bmike
    Jan 7, 2021 at 23:47
  • Please mention that the Finder method works only on macOS Catalina (10.15) and above.
    – sfxedit
    Jan 8, 2021 at 0:01

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