How to get photos from your computer onto your iPhone and iPad with iTunes

Both the iPhone and iPad do phenomenal a job of displaying the photos you take with them, but how do you get your existing photos, the ones on your computer, onto your iPhone and iPad? iTunes is the answer, and we'll show you how, after the break!

Syncing with iPhoto on Mac

Using iPhoto is my favorite choice for transferring photos from Mac to iPad because it offers the most options. You have the ability to sync all albums, events (dates), and faces (people based on facial recognition), or individually choose which combination of albums, events, and faces that you want to sync.

  1. Organize your photos in iPhoto
  2. Plug in your iPad or iPhone into your Mac via the USB to dock cable.
  3. Open iTunes (if it doesn't open automatically)
  4. Click on the Photos tab
  5. Check the box to "Sync Photos From"
  6. Choose iPhoto from the drop down menu
  7. Select which options you prefer
  8. Click sync

Syncing with folders on Mac or Windows

If using you're using Windows, or if you're using a Mac but you prefer not to use iPhoto, you can sync iTunes with a folder on your computer. If you want multiple albums on your iPad, I recommend placing the individual folders into a larger folder. In this folder, you can have more subfolders than you desire to sync with your iPhone and iPad because you can individually select which subfolders you want in iTunes.

  1. Organize your photos in iPhoto or folders
  2. Plug in your iPad and open iTunes
  3. Click the Photos tab
  4. Check the box to "Sync Photos From"
  5. Select "Choose folder..." from the drop down menu
  6. Browse to the desired folder
  7. Select which options you prefer
  8. Click sync

Depending on how many photos you're syncing, both methods have the potential to take some time.

There you have it! Now you can carry around those thousands of photos you have stored on your computer and show them off on your iPhone or iPad's beautiful display.

If you have any other tips for transferring photos to your iPhone or iPad or have any questions, let us know in the comments below!

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Reader comments

How to get photos from your computer onto your iPhone and iPad with iTunes


Unfortunately, no. If you want to organized photos taken with your iPhone, you will first need to import them to your computer, organize them there, then sync back over.

I use PhotoSync available from the App store which seems to work really well and with the Mac App you can wirelessly sync your photos direct into iPhoto completing the missing link for wireless sync'ing for me.

Every folder that you create in windows photos and put pictures into will be a separate folder on the iPhone. I have 11 folders and they are all organized on my phone.

What I really want is to be able to access my iPhoto library the way I can from another Mac, and then pull the ones over (via wifi) that I want to be local. There is a 3rd party solution, which I guess kind of works, but Apple really needs to build that in. This having to sync that kind of thing is just archaic given the technology.

I don't care for iPhoto to much. What I am doing now is using Dropbox to upload pictures from my iphone/ipad to my computer and vice versa. I love Dropbox. :)

Also,if you sync with the folder method,the photos will be resized to 1024x768 and sometimes the EXIF will be removed..
I know this happens on Windows,don't know if it happens on Mac.
Best way to sync is with iPhoto.You get full size,exif and folders. I wish there was a Windows version..

I've been wondering about the reverse process - transfering a batch of photos from an iPad to my computer. I like the idea of leaving the computer behind on trips and just taking my iPad. I also like to work on the photos during the trip, but when I return home I want to be able to move all those photos quickly and easily to my computer. How can I do so?

Just to clarify, I'm talking about 100+ photos, so e-mailing them one at a time isn't practical.

Assuming WiFi, look for the free WiFi Photo Transfer app by Janos Barkai. It starts a server in your phone/pad, you use the browser to fetch the pics.
The browser interface is nice: allows selection (by range or check-box), and will zip up the selected photos. Recommended.

For as "cool" as apple is supposed to be, why can't they do this wireless somehow native in the OS, I mean really, in this day and age why do I need to connect my tablet to my pc with a cable just to get content on it? Anyone else see this as a major flaw?

What is the best way to organize photos using a Windows PC? I photos to be arranged by name, but on the iPad they only show in order of the date modified. Is there a good app that I can install on the iPad just to all you to sort and view the photos by file name? Thanks!

is there anyway to delete them from your computer to save space but still keep them on your ipad during future syncs?

Hola! Had an ipod touch 3rd generation and never had difficulties syncing all my events and albums. Just got an ipod 4th generation; connected it, started syncing, but after finished, only 2,473 photos were transferred from my iphoto 08 to my new ipod 4th generation. I have around 16,000 photos in 641 events. Maybe 20 events made it into the new device. Tried "sync all", "selected events and albums" but no luck. Any suggestions? Please!

how do i get my photos from my computer onto my iPhone from someone else's account????????? please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can not find the photo tab on the itunes. I don't know where to look for it. I have what seems like all the tabs except for the one for photos. Please help.

I am using windows live photo gallery and the photos went straight on to there but how do i get photos from there on to my iphone 4?