How can I troubleshoot or fix when macOS Photos app import from a connected iPhone gets stuck on "Preparing to import from..."?


  • iMac Retina 5K 27-inch 2017, macOS Big Sur 11.2.3
  • iPhone 12 Pro, iOS 14.4.1

Setup: iPhone is connected to the iMac with a USB-Lightning Cable


Photos app on MacOS import from connected iPhone appears to be stuck on "Preparing to import from" and never makes progress.

Steps to reproduce:

  1. Launch Photos
  2. Unlock iPhone
  3. Connect iPhone to iMac with cable
  4. Click the name of the connected iPhone under "Devices" section of Photos
  5. Photos shows a message: Preparing to import from "Device_Name" where Device_Name is the name of the iPhone
  6. Wait... forever...

Additional Information:

  • Imports previously used to work between these devices.
  • The Photos Library has been repaired multiple times by opening Photos while holding Option-Command.
  • The iPhone successfully synchronizes and backs up via the Finder when connected.
  • Swapping out cables does not change the behavior.
  • Restarting the iMac, iPhone, or macOS Photos app does not solve the problem.
  • iPhone has over 40,000 items (photos, live photos, videos, etc.) and a few hundred are new items since the last import while the others are already imported.

Relevant thread:

4 Answers 4


How to get the photos to appear for selection in the macOS Photos app after only waiting 1-2 minutes

  1. Disconnect the iPhone.
  2. Close the macOS Photos app.
  3. On the iPhone, open Settings.
  4. Select Photos in the Settings App of the iPhone.
  5. In the "Transfer to Mac or PC" section of the Photos settings, Automatic is the default. Change it to Keep Originals.
  6. Open the macOS Photos app.
  7. Reconnect the iPhone and select the device in the macOS Photos app.

Keep Originals Setting

Keep Originals selection in Photos Settings

Source: Photos 'preparing to import from iPhone' message....


The Keep Originals Setting didn't solve the Problem for me, but switching to Airplane Mode before connecting the iPhone to my Mac does as described here.


Had exactly the same issue. Just getting stuck on 0% without any progress. For me the solution was to plug the cable directly into my MacBook, without having a USB hub inbetween.

(The hub is a USB3.0 hub and gives me no issues when remote debugging.)


In my case, there is rare space left in my iPhone, so that all the Photos is uploaded in iCloud, and there is only an optimized version of photos in my iPhone.

After I cleaned up and changed the Photos settings under iCloud settings, to keep all the photos in my iPhone, the message disappeared and photos start to appear in the macOS Photos App.

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