Is there a way to export directly from my iPhone to an external HDD using Photos.app?

I always have to import them, thus writing them to my laptop and then to the external HDD. Is it possible to skip the local HDD write?

  • 1
    See the 3rd option here - apple.stackexchange.com/a/465360/85275 - using Image Capture.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 17, 2023 at 6:12
  • The iPhone 15 has a USB-C connector, which accepts external drives (i.e. "Save to Files").
    – Redarm
    Oct 17, 2023 at 10:10
  • @Tetsujin you're a genius! Please set it as an answer if you'd like, thank you! Oct 18, 2023 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


Use Image Capture.
This app is actually the 'brains' behind the Photos.app import structure - launch, plug your phone into your Mac & unlock it.
Then select in the left sidebar and set your download location from the drop menu at the bottom. It presents several options already, but you can set it to any folder you like.
Note here you can also tell the Mac which app to launch when any phone, camera or SD card containing photos is connected. It remembers each device's setting individually.
I set mine to 'No application' because often I just want to charge my phone, I don't always want Photos or Image Capture to spring up.
Below this, you can tell it to delete photos after import or not & also "Keep originals" or not [This can be set independently of the setting on your phone.] As you toggle this, you'll see the file list immediately changes from HEIC to JPG.

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Select, using shift or command, the images you want to copy over & click Import.

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