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. iPhone 12 supported.

Joy Taylor Last Updated: Dec. 14, 2020

If there are many high-quality photos saved on your mac and now you want to sync them to your new iPhone 12 or iPad Air (4th generation), you may want to know how to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone with ease.

Actually, 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 and even more convenient and easier. In this post, we will offer you 5 step-by-step ways to successfully transfer pictures from your Mac to iPhone.

The Most Efficient Ways to Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone

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. It is a smart iTunes alternative that gives you the best management experience on photos, contacts, messages, music, and more.

With AnyTrans, you can transfer photos from Mac and Windows PC to your iPhone or iPad. Besides, manage your iOS & iPadOS data with ease. Check its main features as below (iOS 14 and iPhone 12 supported):

AnyTrans – Mac to iPhone Photos Transfer

  • Transfer ALL or part of photos from Mac/PC to iPhone, and vice versa.
  • Upload photos from Mac/PC to iCloud/iTunes, and vice versa.
  • No compression, transfer photos without losing quality.
  • Also support transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone directly.

Download for Win100% Clean & Safe

Download for Mac100% Clean & Safe

Free Download * 100% Clean & Safe

How to Get Pictures from Mac Computer to iPhone with 3 Steps:

Step 1. Choose Add Content to iPhone Directly

Free download AnyTrans on your Mac > Connect your iPhone to Mac using USB > Choose “Device Manager” and then move the mouse on “+” button to add photos from your Mac.

Add Content from Mac to iPhone

Add Content from Mac to iPhone

Step 2. Select Photos from Mac

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

Choose Photos from Mac

Choose Photos from Mac

Step 3. Choose Photos App to Receive on iPhone

You can click the “>” button to check the details of the selected photos. Go to the Next button. Then all the selected photos will be saved on your iPhone without iTunes and without losing quality.

Save to Photos App

Save to Photos App

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, you can use free iMobie HEIC Converter to convert HEIC photos into JPG, PNG, and PDF. Read this article to see how to convert HEIC to JPG on computer.

Tips. To Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud

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: Get AnyTrans on your computer > Go to “iCloud Manager” and click Sign in to iCloud > Enter your Apple ID and password.

Free Download

Free Download

* 100% Clean & Safe

Free Download * 100% Clean & Safe

Step 2: Click on the “Photos” option.

Click Photos Category

Click Photos Category

Step 3: Click the Upload button at the top-right corner > Choose the folder that contains the photos you want on your Mac and select the photos > Click “Open” button to upload photos from Mac to iCloud.

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud

Upload Photos from Mac to iCloud

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

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone – Get Help 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.

Way 1. Use iCloud Photo Library

Turn on iCloud Photos on Mac with OS X 10.10.3 or later:

  1. Go to System Preferences > iCloud.
  2. Click Options next to Photos.
  3. Select iCloud Photos.

Turn on iCloud Photos on iPhone with iOS 10.3 or later:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name].
  2. Choose iCloud > Tap on Photos.
  3. Turn on iCloud Photos option.
Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via iCloud Photo Library

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via iCloud Photo Library

Way 2. Download Photos from iCloud.com to iPhone

You can also open the iCloud web page on your Mac, then preview the photos on Mac and download them to your device.

  1. Open the icloud.com website and sign in to your Apple ID.
  2. Click the Photos.
  3. Select the photos and click the Download button. (Here you can download originals or edits included.)
Select Photos to Download

Select Photos to Download

Sync 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:

  • Mac from 2012 or later (excluding the mid-2012 Mac Pro) using OS X Yosemite or later.
  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using iOS 7 or later.

Turn on AirDrop on both your iOS device and Mac:

  1. On your Mac, open a Finder window and choose AirDrop.
  2. Turn on Bluetooth and WiFi to enable the AirDrop feature on your Mac.
  3. Set the option Allow to be discovered by Everyone.
  4. On your iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone screen to launch the Control Center.
  5. Tap on AirDrop, and then set your iPhone to be discovered by Everyone.
Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via AirDrop

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone via AirDrop

Send photos from the Mac to the iPhone:

  1. On the Mac: Simply drag and drop the photos you wish to transfer to your device.
  2. 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.

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 - Data will be Erased

Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone with iTunes – Data will be Erased

To Transfer Photos from Mac to iPhone Using iTunes (for macOS Mojave and earlier):

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac and launch iTunes if it doesn’t run automatically.
  2. Choose your iPhone icon, and choose “Photos” from the left menu.
  3. Check “Sync Photos” and select Pictures or Choose a folder from the “Copy Photos From” checkbox.
  4. Click “Apply” to transfer photos from Mac to your iPhone iPad, or iPod touch.
Transfer Photos to iPhone with iTunes

Transfer Photos to iPhone with iTunes

Import Photos from Mac to iPhone with Finder

On macOS Catalina and later, there is no iTunes, but you can sync your iPhone photos and more with Mac with Finder, here is how:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac with a USB cable.
  2. Open Finder and your iPhone should appear in the sidebar of the Finder Window under Locations.
  3. Click on your iPhone. If prompted, please trust your iPhone.
  4. Select Photos and check “Sync photo to your device from” checkbox.
  5. Choose Photos, or Choose folder…, or Pictures from the pod up menu.
  6. After choosing the photos you need to sync, click Apply.
Sync Photos from Mac to iPhone via Finder

Sync Photos from Mac to iPhone via Finder

What to Do When iCloud Photos is On

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.

Fix iCloud Photos is On Error

Fix iCloud Photos is On Error

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 the 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

Add photos from the 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. Try iTunes Alternative

If you want to keep your iPhone data safe while syncing photos from computer to iPhone/iPad/iPod, you can refer to Method 1 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

The Bottom Line

As you can see, compared to iTunes, it’s much easier and quicker to use AnyTrans 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 >

AnyTrans – Full-way iOS Photos Transfer

With AnyTrans, you can transfer photos from Mac to iPhone without iTunes and without losing quality. Besides, you can sync PC photos to iDevices. What’s more, manage iTunes/iCloud content easily.

Joy Taylor

Member of iMobie team as well as an Apple fan, love to help more users solve various types of iOS & Android related issues.