An iPhone that's run out of storage space is not fun; but then again, neither is losing precious photos in a data loss disaster. For these reasons, it makes sense to create a backup of the photos on your phone.

But what should you back up to? In terms of desktop computers the obvious choice is a Mac, but a surprising number of iPhone owners have PCs instead - and Windows computers sometimes interact oddly with Apple products. Transferring photos from an iPhone to a PC can be slightly more difficult than the equivalent operation on a Mac.

But don't worry, because we're here to help iron out the kinks in the process. In this tutorial we show how to copy photos from your iPhone on to any Windows computer, including ones running Windows 10, covering Windows Import Tool, Windows Explorer, iTunes, cloud storage and some third-party software tools.

Unlock your phone and install the drivers

First of all, you'll want to switch on your iPhone and get it off the lock screen, as if the phone is locked with a passcode or fingerprint, your PC will not be able to see the photos on your iPhone. Once you've done this, and connected your iPhone via USB to your computer, your PC should detect and recognise the device.

In order to permit your PC to see the photos and videos on your iPhone you'll need to confirm that the machine is trustworthy. This is done via a popup on your iPhone which gives Allow and Don't Allow options for the PC. (Select Allow, of course.)

How to transfer photos from iPhone to PC: Allow access

After picking Allow, you'll see Windows automatically installing the drivers for your iPhone; when it's ready, a popup will allow you to import the pictures and videos using Windows or Windows Live Photo Gallery, and finally using Windows Explorer. If you're not presented with a popup auto-play window, go to My Computer or My PC to find your iPhone.

How to transfer photos from iPhone to PC: Driver software

Windows Explorer

If you wish to quickly view your photos and extract them to your PC, you should select the option with Windows Explorer, as this will allow you to view all the photos on your device and extract individual images and videos (including screenshots) from your iPhone.

How to transfer photos from iPhone to PC: Windows Explorer

After selecting the Windows Explorer option, select Internal Storage > DCIM, and then within the DCIM folder you'll find the picture folder (which might be split into separate folders). Within the picture folder you'll be able to cycle through the iPhone's photos and videos. From here, simply copy/cut and paste the photos to the desired location on your computer.

How to transfer photos from iPhone to PC: Windows Explorer

Windows Import Tool

There is an alternative method which allows you to import all pictures and videos to your computer through Windows' import tool. This method will not allow you to choose which photos you want synchronised, but will allow you to sort the imports by folder names and name the individual files by Tag or Original Name.

This method is useful if you wish to unload every photo from your iPhone to your computer, but we feel the Windows Explorer option offers more flexibility.

How to transfer photos from iPhone to PC: Windows Import


There are other methods of transferring photos from your iPhone to your computer, one of which uses iTunes to back up and save photos to your computer.

Most of us have iTunes installed, which makes this an obvious choice, but iTunes' limitations (and the difficulty some older PCs have running the program) mean it only really makes sense if you use iTunes regularly for other purposes.

Cloud storage

The cloud is a fantastic way of backing up photos, but it comes with its own set of headaches: for one thing, you'll need to be connected to the internet (hopefully via a Wi-Fi connection) and frequently uploading photos to the cloud. If you're not on Wi-Fi, this will burn through a lot of data, and could end up being a costly method.

No matter which company you choose to back up your photos to the cloud - Dropbox, iCloud, Google Photos - bear in mind that they each offer a limited amount of storage space unless you choose to upgrade to a suitable plan. (In a separate article we show how to upgrade an iCloud subscription.)

Third-party software

Finally, there's also the option of using third-party software to help you transfer photos to your computer: AnyTrans, CopyTrans, Syncios, FonePaw, Dr. Fone and Appandora are among the many offerings out there which offer a convenient way of transferring files from iPhone to Windows computer.

These offer a variety of additional features but if you're just transferring photos and videos, Windows Explorer is a lot easier and cheaper.