How to transfer photos to iPad

5 min read

For the longest time, when we travelled or went somewhere noteworthy, we would bring our digital cameras along with us. After the trip, all the photos would customarily be downloaded to our Macs and then potentially edited or just left there to accumulate as our digital library. 

In recent years, our smartphones have become so good at taking pictures that the need for digital cameras has nearly disappeared. Smartphones, however, hold more photos than ever, which now rarely get transferred to Macs, since you can retouch them with one of many iOS apps and post to your social feed instantly. 

At the same time, when we want to scroll through our digital photo library or show it to our friends, neither Mac nor iPhone are the perfect solution. Arguably, the best way to present pictures today is through an iPad, which you can also use to quickly put them up on a larger Apple TV-enabled screen. So then the question is how to transfer photos from iPhone to iPad? Here are all the top ways.

What’s the best way to share photos?

When it comes to thinking about how to transfer photos from iPad to computer and smartphone, or the other way around, you have quite a few options: 

  • Share iPhone photos using Bluetooth via AirDrop
  • Sync iPad and iPhone through iCloud Photos
  • Upload iPad pictures to iCloud Files
  • Get iPhone and iPad images to merge for 30 days in Photo Stream
  • Connect manually with a USB to the Photos app
  • Manage the whole photo library quickly with AnyTrans for iOS
  • Synchronize photos on your devices with ChronoSync Express

Let’s dive into every alternative above one by one so you have a good overview and are able to choose the way that suits you best. 

More information about how to turn on AirDrop 

How to transfer photos to iPad via AirDrop

The easiest way to share one or a few photos between Apple devices (iPhones, iPads, Macs), regardless of whether they are all yours or belong to your friends, is with AirDrop — Apple’s proprietary feature, which uses both Bluetooth and WiFi for getting the data across. 

Here’s how to transfer files to iPad from an iPhone:

  1. Make sure your WiFi and Bluetooth are turned on
  2. Open the Photos app on your iPhone
  3. Select a photo you’d like to send over. For multiple photos, choose Select first in the top-right corner. 
  4. Tap the share icon at the bottom
  5. Tap on AirDrop
  6. Choose the person or device you’d like to share the photos with

Similarly, here’s how to transfer photos to iPad from Mac:

  1. Turn on your Bluetooth and WiFi
  2. Right-click on the photo you want to share, select Share, and then AirDrop
  3. Choose the person you’d like to send the photos to

share photos iPad Mac iPhone Apple

AirDrop is by far the best way to share a few Mac or iPhone photos with your iPad. But what if you have a whole album or library you want to transfer to iPad?

How to synchronize files in iCloud Photos

When your digital photography volumes get high and you not only need a way to transfer files to iPad but also store them somewhere safe and accessible, iCloud Photos presents itself as a strong contender. 

iCloud Photos is effectively a digital library that seamlessly syncs your pictures across all of your Apple devices as well as online. As part of the iCloud family of services, iCloud Photos uses your iCloud Storage to store its files (you get 5 GB free and can buy 50 GB for $0.99 a month, 200 GB for $2.99, and 2 TB for $9.99). Even better, Apple saves the full-resolution versions of your photos in the cloud and keeps the optimized ones on your devices to preserve local storage space. 

Here’s how to sync photos to iCloud from your iPhone: 

  1. Launch Settings ➙ Apple ID ➙ iCloud
  2. Tap Photos and toggle iCloud Photos to on

The process is similar on Mac: 

  1. Go to System Preferences ➙ Apple ID
  2. Check the box next to Photos 

enable photos iCloud sync Mac

After you enable the sync, iCloud will upload all the photos from your devices up to the available amount of its storage.

How to upload photos to iCloud Files

If you’re not too sure about how to get photos from iCloud to iPhone or iPad via Photos and would like to use something that resembles a good old folder structure — you can! Since iOS 11, all Apple devices have a new Files app, which connects directly to the iCloud Drive. 

To upload iPhone or iPad images to Files: 

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Select the photos you’d like to upload
  3. Tap the share icon at the bottom
  4. Scroll down and tap Save to Files
  5. Choose the appropriate folder (or create a new one) and then Save

To similarly share photos from your Mac: 

  1. Make sure you have the iCloud Drive option enabled in System Preferences ➙ Apple ID
  2. In Finder, click Go ➙ iCloud Drive from your menu bar
  3. Drag and drop any photos into the folder for them to start synchronizing

iCloud drive sync photo Mac

How to merge your images with Photo Stream

Since both iCloud Photos and iCloud Files consume your available iCloud Storage, you might wonder if there’s an option to transfer lots of data without essentially paying for an online backup. And there is! 

Possibly the best way to share photos quickly between Apple devices is by turning on Photo Stream, which will merge all photos from the last 30 days in a special album without taking any iCloud Storage space. 

Here’s how to transfer photos from iPad to computer and back: 

  1. Open Settings ➙ Apple ID ➙ iCloud ➙ Photos
  2. Toggle Photo Stream to on
  3. On your Mac, open Photos ➙ Preferences, switch to the iCloud tab, and check My Photo Stream

photo stream Apple Mac

How to connect to the Photos app with a USB

So far, all the ways to transfer photos from iPad, iPhone, or Mac have been wireless, but what do you do in situations when WiFi is glitchy or not available? Good news is you can still transfer files to iPad from Mac using a simple USB cable: 

  1. Connect your iPad or iPhone to your Mac using a Lightning cable
  2. To import images to your Mac, open Photos, click on your phone, select the pictures, and click Import
  3. To import images to your iPad, open Finder, click on your phone, switch to the Photos tab, and check “Sync photos to your device from.” Choose a folder, click Apply, and then Sync.

Apple sync device Mac iPhone

How to manage your whole photo library with ease

Whatever default solution to sync iPad and iPhone to Mac you choose, it won’t be perfect or straightforward. For that, you need a proper media content manager like AnyTrans for iOS. 

AnyTrans for iOS is an easy-to-use tool that enables you to bring your iOS and macOS devices into complete sync at the click of a button: 

  1. Open AnyTrans on Mac and connect your iPhone or iPad
  2. To transfer iPad pictures to Mac, click Photos and then simply drag and drop your library
  3. To transfer files to iPad or iPhone, just drag and drop photos onto the icon for your device within the app. 

You can do the same with music, videos, contacts, apps, and other types of content.


AnyTrans iOS Mac app photo transfer

How to synchronize photos across your devices

While AnyTrans covers you for all targeted media transfers, what if you just want to make sure your iPad or iPhone photos are stored safely somewhere on your Mac? The best app to use here is ChronoSync Express. 

ChronoSync Express is a synchronization and backup manager that runs on all of your devices and keeps specific folders up to date, without you even lifting a finger. Just set up a recurring backup once and enjoy your newly found peace of mind, with all your media stored properly for years to come.

ChronoSync Express sync backup Mac iPhone iPad

How to reduce your storage needs in seconds

Every time we’re talking about transfers, backups, and media, the question of available storage space inevitably arises. Whether it’s in the iCloud Drive you’re paying for or just in your Mac, storage is valuable. So what’s the best way to preserve your free space? 

Gemini is a nifty macOS utility that instantly scans your laptop for any duplicate or even similar files and suggests the ones you should get rid of. Within seconds you can potentially free up gigabytes of space without losing any valuable information. Here’s how it works: 

  1. Open Gemini
  2. Drag and drop a folder with iPad pictures of any size
  3. Click Scan for Duplicates
  4. When the process is over, Review Duplicates
  5. Check all the files you don’t need and click Remove

Gemini find duplicates Mac app

So when it comes to learning how to transfer photos from iPhone to iPad or Mac, you just need to remember a few essential apps: ChronoSync Express for synching entire folders, and Gemini for getting rid of duplicates. 

Best of all, you can try ChronoSync Express, and Gemini absolutely free for seven days through Setapp, a platform with more than 240 outstanding Mac apps for every task you can imagine. Download every single one and see for yourself today — at no cost!

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