How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with/without iTunes

Looking for a way to move photos from your Mac to your computer? Read on this guide to get some simple methods to transfer pictures from Mac to iPhone quickly.

Roger Smith Posted on: Sep. 18, 2018, Last Updated: Oct. 29, 2019
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There are many ways to move photos from Mac to your iPhone, like iTunes, iCloud Photo Library, AirDrop. And some iPhone photo transfer tool will also do the work for you. In this post, we will offer you 4 step-by-step ways to successfully transfer pictures from your Mac to iPhone.

Before we start, we’d like to tell you that this post works for all kinds of iPhones and computers.

  • Supported iPhone: iPhone 5/5s, iPhone SE, iPhone 6/6s, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X/XS (Max)/XR, iPhone 11, iOS 13/12/11/10
  • Supported Computer: Windows XP/7/8/10, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac

Method 1. How to Move Photos from Mac to iPhone Using iTunes

Before you use iTunes to move photos from Mac to iPhone, one important thing you should know: when syncing photos from computer to iPhone, all the photos, music, ringtones, iBooks and other media files on your iPhone would be erased (just like the following screenshot shows).

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with iTunes - Erase Data

Sync Photos from Mac to iPhone with iTunes – Erase Data

Step 1: Launch iPhoto and drag the photos to your iPhoto library. Or you can create a folder on Mac and keep the photos you want to transfer in it.

Step 2: Connect your iPhone to Mac, run iTunes if it doesn’t open automatically.

Step 3: Tap the Device button, and click on the Photos tab.

Step 4: Select the “Copy Photos From” checkbox, select the iPhoto or Choose a folder. You can choose to sync all your photos or only selected photos.

Step 5: Click “Apply” to transfer photos from Mac to your iPhone iPad iPod touch.

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with iTunes

Sync Photos from Mac to iPhone with iTunes

iTunes doesn’t allow you to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone with iCloud Photo Library on. If you get the message of “iCloud Photo is On”, here are three solutions for this.

How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone - iCloud Photo is On

How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone – iCloud Photo is On

Method 1. Turn off iCloud Photo Library

On your iPhone, go to Settings app > [your name] > iCloud > Photos. Tap the button next to Photo, choose to Remove from iPhone or Download Photos & Videos, now iCloud Photo is turned off.

Please note that after turning off iCloud Photo Library, you have to remove all the iCloud photos on your iPhone or download these iCloud photos to iPhone (this would be a large burden for your iPhone, especially if you are running 16 GB or 32 GB plan).

Method 2. Add photos from computer to iCloud directly, then all newly added iCloud photos can be synced to your iPhone once it is connected to WiFi or cellular network. Please refer to this guide to make it. How to Transfer Photos from Computer to iCloud >

Method 3. If you want to keep your iPhone data safe while syncing photos from computer to iPhone iPad iPod touch, you can refer to Method 2 to make it.

We received a nice bit of requests asking about how to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac computer, if you have the same question, please move to this guide: How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to Mac with 6 Methods

Method 2. Send Photos from Mac to iPhone without iTunes

If you prefer an easy, quick and safe way to export photos from your Mac to your iPhone, then you have a try on AnyTrans for iOS. It is a smart iTunes alternative that gives you the best management experience on photos, music, ringtones, movies, and more.

AnyTrans for iOS – iPhone Photo Transfer

  • Transfer ALL or part of photos from Mac to iPhone.
  • Lightning-fast speed to transfer Mac pictures  to iDevices.
  • No compression, transfer photos with the original pixels.
  • Also support transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone directly.

Download for Win100% Clean & Safe

Download for Mac100% Clean & Safe

Free Download * 100% Clean & Safe

Step 1: Free download AnyTrans for iOS on your computer > Connect your iPhone to Mac via USB cable > Choose “Device Manager” and then click the “+” button to add photos from your Mac.

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with AnyTrans for iOS – Step 1

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with AnyTrans for iOS – Step 1

Step 2: Choose the folder contains the photos you need > Select the photos you want > Click on the “Open” button to continue.

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with AnyTrans for iOS – Step 2

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with AnyTrans for iOS – Step 2

Step 3: You can click the “>” button to check the details. Click on the “Next” button to start transferring the selected photos from Mac to your iPhone.

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with AnyTrans for iOS – Step 3

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with AnyTrans for iOS – Step 3

After the release of iOS 11 version, iDevices use HEIC photos by default. While this new file format is remarkably more efficient in terms of storage space, it is not yet widely compatible. But, don’t worry, AnyTrans fully supports this image format.

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud with AnyTrans for iOS

Besides that, it also lets you upload photos from Mac to iCloud directly, and then photos will be synced to your iPhone when you have logged in with the same Apple ID.

Step 1: Choose “iCloud Manager” > Log in with your iCloud account.

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud – Step 1

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud – Step 1

Step 2: Click on “Photos” option to upload photos from your Mac.

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud – Step 2

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud – Step 2

Step 3: Click the button at the top-right conner > Choose the folder contains the photos you want > Select the photos you need > Click “Open” button to upload photos from Mac to iCloud.

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud – Step 3

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud – Step 3

Bonus Method. How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone Wirelessly

When you find out that there is no USB cable available or your iPhone cannot be recognized by your computer, AnyTrans app on your iPhone can help you to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone wirelessly.

It can help you transfer files like music, video, photos, documents from phone to computer and vice versa, or between two devices. You just need to install it on your devices(both iOS and Android are compatible), then you can directly transfer files from one device to another wirelessly via this app.

Make sure your iPhone and Mac are connected to Wi-Fi, and cellular data would not work in the following steps.

Step 1. Install AnyTrans app on your iPhone.

Step 2. On your Mac: Go to anytrans.io from your browser and you will see a QR Code.

On your iPhone: Open AnyTrans app > Tap on the Scan button to scan the QR code on your Mac.

How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone Wirelessly with AnyTrans App - Step 2

How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone Wirelessly with AnyTrans App – Step 2

Step 3. Then all your iPhone photos will show up on your computer > Click the “Upload” button > Select the photos you want to transfer > Click on “Open” button to transfer photos from Mac to your iPhone.

How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone Wirelessly with AnyTrans App - Step 3

How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone Wirelessly with AnyTrans App – Step 3

Method 3: How to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with iCloud

Using iCloud Photo Sharing with Photos for macOS (macOS high sierra) you can keep photos up to date on all your devices including your Mac and iPhone, This means photos will be transferred to your iPhone from Mac if you enabled iCloud Photos on.

Step 1. Turn on iCloud Photos on Mac with OS X 10.10.3 or later

  • Go to System Preferences > iCloud.
  • Click Options next to Photos.
  • Select iCloud Photos.

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via iCloud

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via iCloud

Step 2. Turn on iCloud Photos on iPhone with iOS 10.3 or later

  • Go to Settings > [your name].
  • Choose iCloud > Tap on Photos.
  • Turn on iCloud Photos option.

Method 4: How to Import Photos from Mac to iPhone Using AirDrop

With AirDrop, you can easily transfer photos from Mac or external hard drive to your iPhone iPad iPod touch wirelessly. This is a quick way if you only need to send a few photos.

Requirements:

1. Mac from 2012 or later (excluding the mid-2012 Mac Pro) using OS X Yosemite or later.

2. iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using iOS 7 or later.

Step 1. Turn on AirDrop on both your iOS device and Mac.

On your Mac: Open a Finder window and choose AirDrop > Turn on Bluetooth and WiFi to enable the AirDrop feature on your Mac > Set the option Allow to be discovered by as Everyone.

On your iOS device: Swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone screen to launch the Control Center > Tap on AirDrop > Set your iPhone to be discovered by Everyone.

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via AirDrop

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via AirDrop

Step 2. Send photos from the Mac to the iPhone.

On the Mac: Simply drag and drop the photos you wish to transfer to your device.

On your iPhone: The iPhone may ask if you want to accept the photos, just tap Accept to save the picture send from your Mac.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, compared to iTunes, it’s much easier and quicker using AnyTrans for iOS to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone, easy-to-operate and no data loss. Even if you have no prior knowledge of data transfer, you can still add photos to your iPhone without effort. Just give it a try >

Roger Smith

Work for iMobie team for 5 years as well as an Apple fan, love to help more users solve various types of iOS or Android related issues.