How to Transfer iPhone Photos to Mac with Image Capture


If you’re looking to quickly transfer your iPhone Camera Roll to your Mac, you can do so easily with the built-in OS X application, Image Capture. This app is handy if you’re not using iCloud and makes for a simple way to both move and delete mass quantities of photos from your iPhone or iPad.

How to Transfer your iPhone Camera Roll to your Mac

Step 1: Launch Image Capture on your Mac. Go to Spotlight Search and type in ‘Image Capture’, or find the app within the Applications folder. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac via USB, and it will show up in the sidebar of the app.

Immediately, you’ll start seeing thumbnails of your images populate. You can click to select list view instead which shows image file size, date, and EXIF data like location, aperture, etc. The toggle is located near the bottom left of the app (below the rotate arrow icon).

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Step 2: If you want to transfer all your images and videos, hit Command + A on your keyboard to highlight all, select a destination to export to (via the drop down menu), then hit the ‘Import All’ button.

Want to select multiple photos out of order? Just hold down Command on your keyboard while clicking photos or videos and then hit ‘Import’. Rinse and repeat. Now your photos are back to your Mac!

Need to rotate a photo? Highlight it, then click the ‘arrow’ icon to rotate it.

If you’re looking to delete photos, you can also just highlight all and click delete. This is a great way to save space on your iPhone without wiping it clean.

Optional Steps

You can also make Image Capture the default app to open when you connect your iPhone. Just hit the tiny arrow icon in the bottom left and select Image Capture:

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Using Image Capture is handy when you’re traveling and want to get lots of photos off your iPhone or iPad quickly, and Wi-Fi for iCloud is not available. Image Capture isn’t exactly advertised so for most people it’s one of the hidden gems in OS X for manual photo management.

Let us know if you like to use Image Capture for exporting pictures off your iPhone or iPad!


  • winnertakesteve

    i use image capture, and it makes me wonder why apple fights so hard for convoluted iPhoto/apple photos/itunes synching paradigms when simple filesystem access seems to often have less potential for confusion and mistakes.

  • ward09

    Thanks Gary!

  • nealhen

    Appreciate! Image Capture just like some 3rd party transfer software, so, is it free? I had used the FonePaw iOS Transfer which can also transfer photos between Mac and iPhone, it supports kinds of files. However, you might pay for it if you want more functions.

  • Yes, it’s free and comes with OS X.

  • RickysCV

    I’ve never had a problem using Preview for importing my photos. I have a folder on my Mac into which all my iPhone photos and video are put. Every so often, I check the number of the last photo in the file, attach my iPhone, open Preview, and under File, I import the latest photos based on the numbers into the Mac. The file keeps growing. I recently ran into a bit of a mess when I went over 10K of photos taken by my phone. I fixed the weird numbering system by starting a second import file on my Mac and importing the post 10K photos into that file. Works like a charm. All my photos are backed up from there and I can delete whatever photos/videos I don’t want to carry on my phone. I don’t see how Image Capture would improve on that.

  • Wmarggy Wmarggy

    To solve this problem, you should try the tool – Coolmuster iOS Assistant. Otherwise, surely the original files on your iPhone will be erased. With the help of Coolmuster iOS Assistant, you can not only transfer photos from iPhone to computer easily, but also backup text messages, notes, calendars, bookmarks, music, videos, books and apps to PC

  • Jordan Rendle

    How do I make sure that all of the photos stored in iCloud are physically backed up to my mac as well? I would like to get off of iCloud… I also hate the Photos app so is there a way to just have everything organized into folders by date and time on an external hard drive?