Since syncing is handled by iTunes one would assume that iTunes also handles getting pictures off the iPod, iPhone and iPad however it does not. There are a few simple and fast ways of importing photos from an iOS device to your Mac.

First you need to decide which way works best for you.

  1. I want to have all my pictures (not videos) synced automatically throughout all my iOS devices and Macs. 
  2. I don’t want any fancy syncing, just let me copy my pictures to my Mac.
  3. I want to sync my pictures and videos across all my devices and computers, whether it be a Mac or PC.


1. iPhoto and Photo Stream

import pictures ipod iphone iPhoto


iPhoto is an application developed by Apple that can be bought from the Mac App Store. There are two ways to import photos from your iOS device in iPhoto. One is to use Photo Stream and the other is simply done by plugging in your device to your Mac and selecting the images that you’d like to import. You have the option of creating a new event to import all the pictures, or by just individually selecting photos to copy to your computer.

Photo Stream syncs all your photos (not videos) in iCloud between all your iOS devices including your Mac. Take a picture on an iPad, a couple of seconds later it uploads to iCloud then automatically downloads to you iPhone, iPod and Mac. To import with Photo Stream just select the photos you’d like to import and drag them to the Events category on the left panel, or just drag them to your desktop or folder. Remember however, it only stores your latest 1000 photos and it does not sync your videos. One nice thing I should mention however, Photo Stream does not take up any of your available iCloud space.


2. Image Capture

import photos ios device mac

Image Capture

Another simple way to import your photos is by using a small utility called Image Capture; it can be located in your /Applications folder. Image Capture comes pre-installed on your Mac, so if you don’t want to pay for iPhoto, it’s a great free alternative.

To copy your pictures to your Mac, just select the images you want to import, then select the folder to import them to and then simply click the import  button. There is also an option to delete the pictures from your iOS device after they are successfully imported to your designated folder on your computer. Do you want to have iPhoto or Image Capture automatically pop up when you plug your iOS device into your computer? If so then under “Connecting this iPhone opens:”, select which app you’d like to have automatically open and used to import the pictures.


3. Dropbox

copy pictures ipod, iPhone, iPad

Import with Dropbox

If the concept of Photo Stream interests you, but you don’t want to use iPhoto, then you can use Dropbox. Dropbox does not have the 1000 image limit, it’s free, works on all iOS devices, syncs on Mac as well as Windows and can do it all automatically just like Photo Stream. Dropbox gives you 2GB of free space, however you can buy more storage or invite your friends and earn extra free storage.

To set it up to sync automatically, install Dropbox from the App Store on all your iOS devices. Then download the Mac or Windows version, and sign in to the same username under all installs. On your iOS device, open Dropbox and go to Settings, Camera Upload and switch it to the ON position. When a new picture is taken, Dropbox will automatically grab it, upload it, then download it then all your other devices. And as an added bonus, unlike Photo Stream which only copies your pictures, Dropbox also syncs your videos.