The iPhone is great for taking photographs - so good, in fact, that many of us slowly fill up our iPhone's storage with pictures. If you want to keep your photos safe, but get them off your iPhone, you can auto back them up to save space.

This tutorial shows you how to transfer your photo collection to a computer, and set up an auto backup service to back up your photos online. Once this auto backup feature is up and running you can delete photos from your iPhone with confidence.

Photos can be backed up to a Mac (or PC), but one idea is to auto back up images to a cloud storage service, like Dropbox. In this tutorial we look at how to transfer your photos, keep them safe, and set up an auto-backup feature.

Read: How to back up an iPhone

Transfer your Photos to a Mac computer

Before you start, it's a good idea to transfer the photos on your phone to an Apple Mac computer. The easiest way to do this is via iPhoto. We advise you to do this prior to setting up a backup process because it will act as a failsafe for your current photo collection; it also quickly removes the photos from your iPhone, so you don't have to delete the images manually. Follow these steps to back up your iPhoto collection to iPhoto:

  1. Connect your iPhone to a Mac using the supplied cable.
  2. Open the iPhoto app (located inside the Applications folder).
  3. Select iPhone in iPhoto’s sidebar (under the Devices list).
  4. Click the blue Import Photos button.
  5. Click Delete Items to remove the photos from your iPhone.

Delete Photos and Videos on your iPhone alert window

This technique transfers photos from the iPhone to your Mac computer. Using iPhoto and the Delete Items options has freed up the space on your iPhone. If you have Photo Stream turned on you will still be able to view them on your iPhone (Photo Stream displays the last 1,000 photos snapped). You can also use iTunes Sync to sync selected photo albums and events to your iPhone, allowing you to keep just your favourite photos on the iPhone.


How to automatically back up iPhone photos to a cloud service

Transferring images from your iPhone to your Mac is a good way to keep them safely stored, but it can be a time drain to handle this manually. Photo Stream is a great way to view photos on different devices, but it only keeps the last 1,000 photos and doesn't move images.

Instead, a good idea is to use a cloud service like Dropbox and its Camera Upload feature. With Camera Upload, captured images are copied directly from the iPhone to Dropbox. The images are stored online in the Dropbox cloud space, and if you install Dropbox on both your iPhone and your Mac the images will be sent directly to the Mac's Finder.

  1. Install the Dropbox app on your iPhone
  2. If you already have an account click on Sign In; otherwise click on Create Account. Enter your Name, Email and Password and click on Sign In
  3. Click on Enable Camera Upload

Enabling Camera Upload on Dropbox iPhone app

All the photos on your iPhone will now be sent directly to the Dropbox account. Any photos you snap from now on will also be duplicated in the Dropbox account (as long as you have the Dropbox App running). The Camera Uploads feature acts as an auto-backup, so you can delete photos from your iPhone to save space.

The images are stored in your Dropbox folder. You can view them online at inside the Camera Uploads folder. If you have Dropbox installed in Mac OS X, the image files are stored inside Camera Uploads. You can drag the images directly to iPhoto, or keep the files stored on your Mac.

With the images stored in Dropbox, you can remove them directly from your iPhone. Click on Photos > Select and tap the photos you want to delete, now tap the Delete icon in the bottom-right and tap Delete Photos.

Delete Photos directly from iPhone

See: iCloud vs Dropbox: comparison review