The 3 Fastest Ways to Get Photos from an iPad to a Mac or Windows PC

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Photo Transfer App

If you’ve got photos and images on your iPad that you want to transfer to a Mac or Windows PC there are a number of ways you can go about it. Today I’d like to offer a quick rundown of a few methods that I find to be the easiest and the fastest by far:

Here they are:

Photo Transfer App

Photo Transfer App does just what its name would suggest. It has a easy to use interface with no extra bells and whistles – and just makes it fast and simple to transfer photos between your iPads, iPhones, and computers on a local WiFi network.

The app costs $2.99 and can be installed on both the iPad and the iPhone.

To transfer photos to your Mac or Windows PC you open Photo Transfer App, select the Send button (shown above) and then select which sort of device you want to send to – Windows computer, Mac computer, or another iOS or another device (an iOS or Android mobile device).

Then you just follow a simple on-screen instruction to type an address into a web browser on your Mac or Windows PC, select what resolution you’d like to download your photos at, and click a Download button.

Just as a quick example, it took around 30 seconds to download a .zip file with 75 iPad photos at full resolution.

Dropbox or Similar File Sync Services

Dropbox photo upload

There are a number of excellent online file sync services that you can use to keep photos available to you anywhere that you have web access. Dropbox is one of the very best of these, but you could also look at Box, Cubby, SugarSync, Google Drive, and others.

All of these have free apps for the iPad and all offer some amount of free storage space, and then reasonably priced plans for increasing your storage space. Dropbox offers 2GB of free space and 100GB for around $99 per year.

Dropbox has a handy feature that allows you to automatically upload all your iPad photos. You can enable or disable this feature with just a few taps within the app and then just forget about it – and you’ll have access to all your photos on our PC in your Dropbox folder. If you have an iPad with WiFi and Cellular connectivity, you can set whether automatic uploads are done over WiFi only (to avoid cellular data usage charges) or over both WiFi and Cellular.

You can also upload photos to Dropbox manually, and you can create folders within the app on the iPad too. So, for example, you could make folders for months or events or people within Dropboxx and then upload relevant photos to each of those as and when you have new ones.

The other file sync services mentioned above have similar capabilities.

Image Capture and Windows Import Pictures


If you don’t want to pay for Photo Transfer App and don’t like the idea of using online sync services, the fastest way to move photos from an iPad to a computer via a USB connection is to use one of these two apps: Image Capture on a Mac, or Windows Import Pictures and Videos on a Windows PC.

For this method, you need to connect your iPad via its sync/charge cable to your Mac or Windows PC. Close iTunes as you won’t need it. As soon as you connect the iPad the Image Capture app will open (on a Mac) or the Windows Import Pictures and Videos popup will appear.

After a minute or two (depending on how large your iPad photo library is, all your images should be shown as thumbnails within the Image Capture or Windows Import Pictures app. Then you can select individual images to import or choose to Import All. You can also choose which folder to import your images to.


Some of you may notice that I have not mentioned the iCloud Photo Stream feature here. I haven’t forgotten about it, and Photo Stream can be very useful – but I’ve left it out here for two reasons:

— Photo Stream itself is generally quite slow. I can take 10 new photos on an iPhone sitting three feet away from an iPad on the same home WiFi network and not see all the photos on the iPad after 5 minutes. Using Photo Transfer App or Dropbox I can see all of them in under 2 minutes, easily.

— Photo Stream pairs up with iPhoto on the Mac, and I find iPhoto to be ridiculously slow and even worse a bloated app that slows down the entire Mac when it’s in use. I never intentionally use it for anything at all.

So there’s my rundown of the fastest ways to get photos from an iPad to a computer. If you have alternative suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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12 thoughts on “The 3 Fastest Ways to Get Photos from an iPad to a Mac or Windows PC”

  1. Wow, pathetic. Photostream is without a doubt the fastest and easiest way! And iPhoto works great for me, no slowness at all! First time I’ve seen your site in Zite, and the last. Blocked.

  2. I have looked at other apps that do similar functions, but they do not look as well designed as Photo Transfer App so haven’t bothered to download them. I was looking for a simple way to download videos from my iPad to computer and vice versa – Photo Transfer app works well. It also has security features so that you can confirm the user/receiver of the photos before sending the photos. I agree – its faster than PhotoStream. There is also an Android version of the app too, so you can transfer photos from your idevice to a friend’s Android device with ease.

  3. Works great and very easy to use. I installed the photo transfer app while eating breakfast (at Mcdonalds on their free wifi lol) and with just a few clicks I transferred my pics to my android cell. Great app! Thanks

  4. Great article but does anyone know a way to name the video before or after it is transfered to the iPad? I have nearly a hundred videos and it is time consuming to click through them to find the video you want – when they do not have names. So I sync my videos to my computer and use Windows Explorer. I put them in a folder and name them and then, import them into iTunes, and sync them back to my iPad and iPhone – very time consuming.

    Also, iPhoto does not work for transferring video as one writer suggested. Plus I do not use it as I like Photo Shop better.

  5. Thanks for including ‘Photo Transfer App’ in your article Patrick! We are glad you find it useful. We are preparing some new enhancements to make the app even better. Have a nice weekend!

  6. Once you connect your iDevice to your Mac, just open the Preview application (program). Select File/Import from (your device name will show here). You can then select what to download and where to save it. It’s already on your Mac. Why purchase or download another program!

  7. SUPER THANKS FOR THIS!! ImageCapture is a lifesaver!! Photostream can be slow because it depends on one’s internet speed.. and it’s been taking me forever just to sync / delete etc.. photos! But ImageCapture makes it so much easier!! Ah! THANK YOU!

    1. I agree, ImageCapture IS the one!
      Can’t believe, when you plug an iPad to a Mac, that it DOESN’T show up in Finder – on the left side – under Devices! My god, how unintuitive (that it doesn’t)! Then, you “should” be able to just drag & drop between the two devices, using the iPad or Mac as an extra hard drive. Bad idea, or am I just an idiot??

  8. These 3 ways are really great, how can I have never used the latter two methods. I have just used an app on amacsoft to help me, the 1st way author has mentioned. But I think this app is really great and very easy to use.

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