My mom is a photographer, and she wants the original quality photos downloaded off her iPhone to use in professional photo programs like Lightroom and Photoshop.

She previously used Image Capture to do this, but has recently begun using Optimize Photo Storage to also store all these photos on iCloud.

According to my research, this means that sometimes photos downloaded via Image Capture will not be full size, so Image Capture is out.

We instead tried to download these originals via the Photos app on the Mac. However, you can only download the unmodified original photo (in Image Capture it showed the original AND the modified for download).

This is inconvenient of course because any edits made on the iPhone won't come through.

We also tried to export a JPEG from the Photos app, but both the High and Maximum quality were not the same size or quality as the modified original photos we could download on Image Capture. It seems a normal export via the Photos app does some kind of conversion on it so it is no longer original. But that also seems to be the only way to get the modifications from the Photos app

So...how do we download the modified original image from the Photos app?

(Or...how would we download the modified original image from Image Capture while guaranteed that the photo is the Full Size photo and not a thumbnail or some other not full quality version?)

  • Try the app Camera+ 2, or some non-Apple camera app which lets you save the file outside the Apple infrastructure. I can snap away into Camera+ 2's Lightbox, and then export the files I select in RAW format directly to Dropbox. Camera+ 2 has so many pro features I can't think of using any other camera app. Unfortunately, it can't be set as the default camera app in iOS. Best US$8.00 I've ever spent. Solid updates and new features over the years. Note: no financial or other consideration given by LateNiteSoft S.L.
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 22:58
  • 1
    First, the optimized image size is very small and will look pixelated. If you're getting this photo, it would look terrible after importing to your computer. If you can't CLEARLY tell the difference then this isn't the problem.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 22:04
  • Second, when you import from Image Capture are you getting JPEG or HEIC files? What about from iCloud.com. The JPEG files are not the original file format so it would make sense they don't match size wise.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 22:04
  • Third, you can view the size of a photo on your phone. If you swipe up (or press the info button) you'll see a size in MB in the info panel. This is what you should be referencing when determining which size is most accurate.
    – Ezekiel
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


Photos on Mac does let you export edited photos. Select photos, then in the top menu, click File > Export > Export N Photos'. If you export JPGs, Photos will apply some compression. For non-lossy transfers, you could set the iPhone to capture RAW format (See this). Lightroom can now also import directly from iPhone (See this).

  • I've seen that Lightroom can import directly from the iPhone, but if Optimize Photo Storage is on wouldn't that leave something to be desired? How does Lightroom manage that?
    – teradyl
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 19:51
  • If Optimize Storage is 'on', programs such as Lightroom (for Mac and iPhone) and Photos Takeout (for Mac) will download the full resolution unmodified originals from iCloud into your local Photo library, apply edits (if any), and then export.
    – MacEater
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 4:21

You must log in to answer this question.

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