How to transfer photos from iPhone to iPhone

Photo sharing is the true zeitgeist of smartphones. Regardless of where and when you shoot, there’s always someone you want to share an image with or someone who wants what you’ve captured for themselves. With the iPhone, you can share photos among friends, family, and colleagues with just a few taps — no third-party software needed. We show you how to transfer photos from your iPhone to another iPhone or from your old iPhone to your new one.

Transfer photos from your iPhone to a friend’s iPhone

Apple’s AirDrop is an elegant and convenient way to send or receive photos from people nearby, and it’s super easy to use. Access the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (for older iPhones or the new iPhone SE) or down from the right corner of your handset (for iPhone X or later).

  • Both phones must have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled and Personal Hotspot disabled.
  • Tap the Network Card to access AirDrop, and tap to Enable it if it is not already.
  • Select Contacts Only or Everyone.
  • Launch your Photos app, select the desired photos, and tap the Share icon.
  • You will see the AirDrop icon as one of several share options. Tap it.
  • The resulting pane shows the iPhones and other devices nearby that have AirDrop enabled. Find that person’s phone and tap on it. A downloading pop-up screen appears.
  • Your friend will see the photo on their screen with an option to accept or decline.
  • Tap Accept, and the photo gets added to their Photos app.

Transfer photos from an old iPhone to a new iPhone

Say you have a new iPhone, and you want to transfer your current photo collection to the new handset. One way would be to backup your iPhone, then restore your backup during setup of your new phone. Here are several ways to accomplish this.

Using iCloud

The easiest method is using iCloud to transfer your photos wirelessly, but you only get 5GB of storage for free. If you have a lot of photos, you may need to buy more storage. Or, you can use the Finder with a wired connection to your Mac. Note that if you have more than 5GB of photos on your phone, you’ll want to offload that much bulk anyway, unless you need them for professional purposes.

  • Launch Settings and tap on your name at the top.
  • Tap iCloud > Photos and make sure that iCloud Photos at the top is on.
  • Log in with the same Apple ID on your new iPhone and repeat the process: Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Photos, and toggle on iCloud Photos.
  • Select Optimize iPhone Storage or Download and Keep Originals. The first option saves on storage space.

Using the Finder

When you’re ready to set up your new iPhone, you can restore a backup of your old iPhone, including photos, during setup. With MacOS Catalina, you can use the Finder to transfer photos from your Apple mobile device to your Mac and on to the new handset. The newest MacOS signaled the demise of iTunes, though it’s still available for Windows.

iPhone backup
  • Plug your old iPhone into your Mac or MacBook.
  • Open the Finder app from your Mac Dock, and select your device from the left of the screen under Devices.
  • You can then choose to back up to This Mac.
  • Once it’s complete, you can unplug the old iPhone, connect the new iPhone, and choose Restore iPhone with your backup.

Using iTunes

If you haven’t yet upgraded to the newest MacOS or are running Windows, you can still use iTunes to transfer images from one phone to another. Your computer or laptop should have the latest version of iTunes installed.

  • Plug your old iPhone into your computer and launch iTunes.
  • Select your iPhone in iTunes and click Summary in the left pane.
  • Click on This Computer under Backups in the right pane, and click Back Up Now.
  • Turn on your new iPhone, and the iOS Setup Assistant will give you the option to Restore from iTunes Backup.
  • Plug your new iPhone into the same computer, and start iTunes again.
  • Select your new iPhone in iTunes and click Summary in the left pane, then click Restore iPhone in the right pane, then Agree.
  • Once it’s done, all your photos will be on your new iPhone.

Editors' Recommendations