Home > Resources > Transfer photos from Mac to iPhone

How to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone efficiently

Discover the fastest and easiest ways to transfer photos from your Mac to iPhone. Say goodbye to complicated steps – it's time to take your memories anywhere you go.

Jasmin Woods Updated on Jun 20, 2023 6:01 PM

Quick view: Any pictures you have on your Mac can be transferred to your iPhone if necessary. Along with Apple-designed file sharing tools, software like iPhone Data Transfer provide a seamless and hassle-free experience for photo transfer from Mac to iPhone flexibly.

When you need to transfer photos to your iPhone from a Mac, there're several approaches to help you.

Do you have a collection of photos on your Mac that you'd like to access on your iPhone? Or maybe you enjoy editing pictures and videos and want to easily transfer them to your iPhone from Mac's photo library? If so, you're not alone! Transferring photos from Mac to iPhone is a great way to keep your favorite memories and moments with you wherever you go.

In this guide, we'll explore a variety of methods and show you how to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone effortlessly. Whether you prefer to use a cable, transfer wirelessly, or take advantage of a third-party data transfer tool, we've got you covered. You don't need to be a tech expert to make Mac photo transfer to your iPhone – it's a quick and simple process.

So let's get started and transfer your favorite Mac photos to iPhone in no time! Read on to find the most efficient method that works for you.

What to do before photo transfer

Transferring photos on Mac to iPhone is a great way to keep them easily accessible. Before we dive into different methods of photo sharing from Mac to iPhone, it's important to know which image formats iPhone supports so the transferred Mac photos will be viewable on your iPhone.

Since iOS 11 and later, iPhone supports a wide range of image formats and qualities, including popular formats such as JPEG, PNG, RAW, TIFF and MP4, GIF, as well as its special photo formats like slo-mo, time-lapse, Live Photos, HEIC (also known as HEIF) and HEVC. Therefore, when you plan to transfer photos to iPhone from Mac, make sure they are in correct file formats.

Transfer photos from Mac to iPhone with built-in tool

Making photo transfer from Mac to iPhone is a simple task that can be accomplished using Finder, a built-in file manager available on macOS Catalina and later. It can be used to navigate and manage your media files on Mac, including images, picture folders, and photo library. Not limited to that, it's also a reliable and straightforward option for those who have a large number of pictures to handle and prefer a wired connection to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone easily.

For Mac photo transfer to iPhone, connect your iPhone to your Mac via a USB cable and open Finder. From there, you can sync all or transfer a selection of photos from your Mac's Photos library to your iPhone in one click. Here's how to import photos from your Mac to iPhone:

Tips: If you are using an older version of macOS, turn to iTunes (for macOS Mojave and earlier), or update your macOS version instead.

1. Connect your iPhone to Mac using a proper USB cable.

If your device prompt trust request, select Trust and enter lock screen passcode on your iPhone to establish a connection between two platforms.

2. Go to Finder (or iTunes) and select your iPhone.

From the top menu bar on your Mac screen, click on Finder to open it. This should show up the Finder window with your iPhone's name appearing under Locations.

3.Choose which photos on your Mac to sync with your iPhone.

  • Click on your phone icon and select Photos tab at the top toolbar.
  • To transfer your photos, tick the checkbox Sync photos to your device from, and then select the folder containing your pictures from the expanded list of photo source.
  • From the Sync option, accept the default selection of All folders to transfer all photos. Otherwise, choose Selected folders to sync certain subfolders in your main picture folder.
  • If you want to keep videos as well, click Include videos.

Decide whether you want to transfer all photo library or just selected albums.

4. Transfer the photos from your Mac to iPhone.

To start syncing the Mac photos onto your iPhone, hit the Apply button at the bottom of your Finder window. The transferring progress will show up on the screen, make sure to keep your iPhone connected before it's done.

Important: The photo transfer to iPhone from Mac may fail in Finder if you've enabled the iCloud Photos which updates your photos across all devices automatically.

Note that if you sync entire Mac photo library to iPhone, the transfer process may take some time, and the synced photos will replace any previously stored pictures in your iPhone's Photos Library. To avoid unnecessary data loss, you'll want to use alternative methods to get your photos from Mac to iPhone as follows.

Transfer photos on Mac to iPhone with flexibility and efficiency

Another go-to solution for seamlessly transferring photos from Mac to your iPhone or iPad is to use the one-stop tool called iPhone Data Transfer. With its full-way file transfer capabilities, you can quickly and easily transfer pictures from Mac to iPhone or in either direction without hassle.

This powerful tool not only offers more efficient photo transfer speeds but also supports a wide range of file types, including pictures, videos, music and more, making it the ultimate file transfer solution for all your needs. Also, designed with user-friendliness, it provides a secure and private way to transfer photos from your Mac to iPhone without relying on the Internet.

Additionally, this tool auto-converts unfitting image formats to ensure your photos are compatible with iOS and iPadOS in their original quality, allowing for easy viewing and editing.

Download Now!

for macOS | for Windows

  • As quick as copy-and-paste, as easy as drag-and-drop
  • Support various possible formats, such as PNG, JPG, GIF, HEIC, HEVC
  • Converts incompatible pictures during transfer
  • Detect duplicate photos and allow for deletion
  • Compatible with all iOS / iPadOS devices, including iPhone 14 series
  • Ability to create local backup of your iPhone photos
  • Before you learn how to transfer photos from Mac to iPhone, be sure to install it on your Mac and have a USB cable on hand.

Step 1: Install and launch the iPhone Data Transfer on your Mac.

Step 2: Build connection between your Mac and iPhone with a USB or Lightning cable. It will display the common details of your iPhone when it recognizes your device.

Step 3: On its home screen, click on Photos from the left menu bar. All pictures on your iPhone will load here in order. You can manage your cameral roll and photo library or remove the pictures and albums that you don't want before importing photos from your Mac to iPhone.

Add pictures or transfer an entire folder from Mac to connected iPhone.

Step 4: Click the Add + button from the top, and choose any pictures to transfer onto your iPhone. It could be photos, videos, and even folders that store your favorite pictures.

The process if simple and quick. You can also move photos to your iPhone from Mac's desktop or folder by dragging and dropping. It efficiently handles large batch transfers and automatically deals with image incompatibility issues. Whether a beginner or an expert can transfer photos and videos from Mac to iPhone or vice versa, without worrying about quality loss or format conversions.

Sync Mac photos with iPhone wirelessly

If you're using the same Apple ID on both your Mac and iPhone, then iCloud Photos is an excellent tool for backing up and syncing your photos across all of your devices, making it convenient to accomplish the photo transfer from a Mac to iPhone through Internet.

When iCloud Photos is enabled on your Mac and iPhone, any pictures you add on your Mac will be automatically updated and accessible on your iPhone seamlessly, without further action. Follow the steps on how to get your photos from Mac to iPhone using iCloud. If you're also struggling with music transfer from Mac to iPhone, jump to another guide for help.

Set up iCloud Photos on Mac.

  • Head to the Photos app on your Mac, where all your photos and videos are sorted in Years, Months, Days and All Photos.
  • From the left-top corner, click Photos > Settings. Or click on Photos > Preferences on macOS 12 or earlier.
  • Select iCloud tab from the pop-up box, and check the iCloud Photos option.

Enable the iCloud Photos to automatically upload and store your photos and videos in cloud.

Enable iCloud Photos on iPhone.

  • Access Settings app on your iPhone.
  • Tap on your device name, and go to iCloud > Photos.
  • Toggle on Sync this iPhone if your device is running iOS 16 or later. Otherwise, enable iCloud Photos for iOS 15 or earlier.

Once done, your photos and videos will be backed up and stored in iCloud in full resolution without format change, and every picture you add to iCloud is now available on any of your device with the same Apple account, which sounds more like a wireless and real-time photo sync from Mac to iPhone, with no need to transfer the photos from Mac to iPhone manually.

The whole process is based on Internet connection, which could be time-consuming depending on how many pictures you're transferring. Alternatively, using iCloud web to upload and download photos from your Mac to iPhone would be quicker if you only need to move a few images.

Download Mac photos to iPhone from iCloud web

Without the need of any extra software or cables, iCloud website lets you transfer photos wirelessly from Mac to iPhone. Even better, it also works when you hope to transfer your photos from PC to iPhone, click to know more.


  • Make sure the iCloud Photos is enabled on your iPhone.
  • Once you run out of iCloud storage, your pictures and videos will not be updated anymore.

1. Open a browser on your Mac and visit icloud.com.

2. Log in with your Apple ID and password. Be it the same as the one used on your iPhone.

3. Click on Photos when you're in.

4. Find the Upload icon from the right-top corner.

5. Select which photos you want to get onto your iPhone.

Wait patiently for the pictures to upload. When complete, simply open the Photos Library on your iPhone and view the pictures synced with iCloud in date order.

However, be aware that each Apple user gets 5 GB of cloud storage for free, which can fill up quickly, especially for FLAC-format images which are taken at high resolution. So if you have a lot of pictures to import from Mac to iPhone, use another method or upgrade to iCloud + for more cloud storage available from 50 GB to 2 TB.

AirDrop photos on Mac to iPhone

It's also easy to share photo files from Mac with iPhone using AirDrop if you don't have a USB cable handy. But keep in mind that the transfer speeds may be a little slower, so you can use it when transferring smaller image files.

Quick tip: AirDrop requires Bluetooth to create a peer-to-peer connection between your Mac and iPhone. To proceed with wireless photo transfer from Mac to iOS, you need to enable the AirDrop feature on the two devices which should be placed within about 10 meters.

1. Locate the photo files you want to share with your iPhone.

2. Right-click on them, and hover over the Share in the option list.

3. Click on AirDrop. The target iPhone should be nearby your Mac.

4. From the recipient list showing up, select your iPhone that you want to send photos to.

5. When your iPhone gets the shared pictures, tap Accept in the pop-up.

Share photos with AirDrop from Mac to iPhone.

A single video or multiple pictures from your Mac's Photos library should be transferred without hassle, but it's not recommended using AirDrop for long videos or a large album full of photos.

More tips: How to Transfer Videos from PC to iPhone


1. Can I transfer photos from my Mac to iPhone without a cable?

Yes. Apple allows for wireless transfer of photos from Mac to iPhone by using AirDrop and iCloud Photos. Users can easily share a couple of photos or sync the entire photo library to their iPhone or iPad from Mac, or vice versa.

2. How to transfer my photos from Mac to iPhone without syncing?

There are multiple ways that enables you to transfer your pictures on a Mac to iPhone without syncing the whole photo library. Here are some best of them:

  • AirDrop: One of the official ways, perfect for photo transfer in small amount
  • Email: Available for picture attachments from one device to another
  • AppGeeker iPhone Data Transfer: Capability and flexibility for transferring photos and videos from Mac to iPhone selectively or entirely

3. How to transfer pictures from Mac to iPhone without iCloud?

iCloud crashes sometimes as it only offers 5 GB of free storage in cloud. Once you use it up, no pictures will be synced. So to copy your Mac photos to iPhone, using a cloud service with larger cloud space will be better, such as Google Drive (15 GB) or Dropbox (from 2 GB, up to 18 GB).

Another option to get your Mac photos transferred to iPhone without iCloud is to use a USB cable. Applications like iTunes, Finder, or iPhone Data Transfer can help you to apply a reliable and secure data transfer on Mac via a physical connection.

By clicking "Agree" you allow cookies that improve your experience on our site, help us analyze site performance and usage. See Cookies policy.Agree