How to Transfer Photos from iPhone to External Hard Drive

If you want to transfer photos from an iPhone to an external hard drive you can do it straight from the phone with the help of an app, or use one of many methods on a computer such as the Photos app, File Explorer, or third-party software.

Taking photos is one of my favorite things to do on my iPhone. These could be pictures of my dog, nature, birds, concerts, or any number of other things. However, it is very easy to lose or break your phone, which could lead to all of these photos being lost if you’re not careful.

As a result, it is a good idea to have your photos in more places than on your device, such as an external hard drive. But how can you go about getting the photos from one location to the other? Keep reading to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • One of the simplest ways to transfer photos from the iPhone to an external hard drive is by using the Files app on your phone. A few taps and your photos can be transferred.
  • Another option is to use your computer to facilitate the transfer. There are several methods to do this, including using the Photos app or the File Explorer to move the photos.
  • There are also third-party software that you can download on your computer that can help with this process, too.

Method 1: Use the Files App

Using the Files app can be an easy way to transfer photos to a storage device, without the need for a computer. The first step is to connect your iPhone directly to the place you want to store them, whether it is an SD card reader/SD card or a compatible USB drive.

Some of these drives do have a Lightning connection that works with the iPhone natively, but for others, you may need a different cable or an adapter to connect. Once connected, you will need to navigate to the Files app and hit Browse, and then choose the right location.

You will then be able to browse the files in that location, and either select them all to move them, or just select the few you want. Keep in mind that your photo library itself doesn’t show up in Files, and you need to manually save the photos to the Files app in order to transfer them.

Once you have selected the photos you want to move, you need to Copy them. Next, go back to Browse and choose the external hard drive from the list of locations. Once there, simply Paste them and they will be added to the storage drive.

After the transfer is done, the photos will exist on the external hard drive and can be put on any compatible computer or device in the future.

Method 2: Use a Computer

In addition to using your phone itself, you can also enlist the help of your computer to make the transfer. There are a variety of different methods that use your computer to help you add photos to an external drive.

For all of the following methods, you will need to first connect your iPhone to the computer with the appropriate cable. In addition to that, make sure your external hard drive of choice is also connected to the computer.

Windows/Mac Photos App

The first method is to use the Windows or Mac Photos app to move the photos.

On Windows, navigate to the Photos app, and then click the icon with the three circles in the top right of the window. Next, hover over Import and then select the option “From a connected device”. The computer will then search for the photos on the device, and then you can choose the ones you want to move.

Make sure to change the destination, as the default will generally be the computer itself. Once you change the destination to the external drive, you can complete the process and easily transfer all the photos you’d like.

For Mac computers, head to the Photos app and make sure your phone is selected in the Devices section. Select the photos you want to move, and make sure the external drive is chosen in the Import To section to be able to make the transfer successfully.

(On a Mac, once you connect your iPhone and open the Photos app, you can see two buttons: Import Selected or Import All New Items)

File Explorer/Finder

Another method is to use the file manager application on your operating system of choice. On a Windows computer, this is File Explorer, and on a Mac it is Finder

On Windows, simply open the File Explorer and go to This PC, and choose your iPhone from the list of options.

In the Internal Storage you will see DCIM, and this is where the photos are kept. Next, it’s as simple as copying and pasting the photos to your external drive, or dragging and dropping them if you have multiple windows open.

On a Mac computer, open a Finder Window, locate the photos, and select the ones you want to move. Then, all you need to do is Copy/Paste the photos to your external drive, or drag and drop them to the right location.

Third-Party Software

There are also many pieces of third-party software that can help you move photos with ease. Each one will have a slightly different process, but most are quite simple to use. Make sure to check out reviews and reputation before deciding which one to use.

Many may also offer additional features on top of transferring photos, so keep these additional features and uses in mind when deciding the one you’d like to download and install.


Here are a few commonly asked questions about transferring photos from an iPhone to an external hard drive, along with their answers.

Why do people like to transfer photos from their phone to an external hard drive?

In most cases, people will transfer photos from their iPhone to an external drive to keep them safe. If your phone is lost or gets damaged, the photos could be lost forever. This transfer could also be done to save space on your device by moving photos elsewhere.

Which external hard drives work with an iPhone?

You shouldn’t be restricted with the hard drive you use, as most will be able to connect with an iPhone. Not all will be able to connect instantly due to the different ports, but there are cable adapters that can help you connect your device to USB or other ports easily.

Final Thoughts

Whether you just want to have your photos kept safe in another place, or you want to save space on your iPhone, transferring photos to an external hard drive is an easy process, no matter which method you choose.

After reading this guide, which method will you use to transfer your iPhone photos to an external hard drive? Let me know in a comment below.

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