There is the old saying that the best camera is the one that’s with you. This takes on new meaning with the iPhone 4S and it’s stellar optics. With iOS 5, Apple now allows you to setup your iPhone 4S without the need for a computer. This is great for those who are looking to get a quick start, without the hassle of having to tether their new phone either a Mac or PC in order to get it up and running. If you are using iOS 5, Apple’s new iCloud allows you to take advantage of Photostream, which will push photos to all of your iOS devices, but that’s limited to 1,000 photos. Despite setting up Find My iPhone, losing an iPhone could mean that you’d lose all of your precious photos and videos. It’s always a good idea to back them up and you can do very easily if you transfer photos and videos from your iPhone to a Mac or PC.

Transfer photos from iPhone to Mac

If you have a Mac, there are multiple ways to transfer your photos. The easiest and most productive way has to be iPhoto ($14.99, Mac App Store). This is also included as part of iLife, which comes free with every new Mac. When you plug-in your device, it will bring up the screen below.

Transfer photos from iPhone to computer

It will show you the number of photos available for transfer, which in this case happens to be 24. The blue button at the top allows you being the process of transferring photos to your Mac. Note: If you check the box ‘Split Events’, iPhoto will create a new event for each grouping of images.

Q: What if I don’t see any images when I connect my iPhone or iPad?

When you complete the transfer process, you’ll be asked if you would like to delete the photos. If you select no, they will remain on your phone. However, when you connect to iPhoto again, it knows that you had previously transferred those pictures.

Using Image Capture to transfer pictures

If you don’t have iPhoto, the free Image Capture app should launch when you connect your iPhone or iPad. If not, you can navigate to Applications > Image Capture. On the left hand side of the window, you’ll see your device. In the bottom part of the window, you select the destination folder for your imported photos. By default, it’s set to ‘Pictures’. You can command-click to select individual photos or simply ‘Import All’. Unlike with iPhoto, you check a box at the bottom left in Image Capture if you want to delete photos on your device after the import. Click ‘Import’ and your photos will transfer to your Mac.

Image Capture iPhone

Q: Can I mount the iPhone like a USB drive and drag-and-drop images?

No, you can not mount your it like a USB device on a Mac without third-party software. You must use one of the apps mentioned above.

Transfer pictures from iPhone to PC (Windows 7, Vista)

When you connect your iPad or iPhone for the first time, you’ll see Windows install assorted drivers. This should take a matter of seconds and the ‘Auto Play’ dialog box will appear. You’ll have the option to ‘Import Pictures’ or ‘View Files’. If you have a preference, check the box and your Windows PC will do this each time you plugin your device.

Auto-play connect iPad

When you select ‘Import Pictures and Video’, your computer will find media that is ready for transfer.

transfer photos iPad computer

You will have the option to ‘Tag’ photos. This is handy if you are tagging a set of vacation photos.

import settings pictures

You can also set Import Settings. This allows you to set:

  • Destination folder for imported images
  • Destination folder for imported videos
  • Folder naming convention
  • Enable option to delete photos from device

If you select ‘View Files’, it will appear as if it is a USB device, providing access to your photo files in a folder titled DCIM. Once they render, you can easily drag and drop the pictures to your desktop or folder of preference.

iPhone drag and drop photos

While having successfully moved your photos to your home computer, we’d highly recommend you have a back-up strategy in place to protect your valuable images.

Have questions or need help? Join our iPhone and iPad forums to comment on this article or to create your own topic. Know of a better way, let us know.