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Can’t Import Photos from iPhone to Mac [2024 Full Guide]

If you fail to transfer photos in Photos app from iPhone to Mac, FonePaw iOS Transfer will help you. It can also transfer music, contacts, SMS, etc. for you.
author Carrie Murray
date Friday, March 15, 2024

Can't import photos from iPhone to Mac?

Generally speaking, transferring photos from iPhone to Mac is quite easy most of the time. With iPhone, Macbook, and a USB cable, you can easily complete this process with a few clicks or a drag-and-drop movement. However, system glitches, iPhoto unrecognized formats, and other hiccups may occur sometimes, and that can lead to import errors. If you are also facing the same confusion of how to import photos from iPhone to Mac, let's jump into the 9 practical workarounds in this post and fix it right now.

How to Import Photos from iPhone to Mac

Before you start, try other methods to import photos from iPhone to Mac to solve the problem quickly!

Why Can't I Import Photos from iPhone to Mac?

The problem that iPhone photos can't be imported to Mac is usually caused by 3 possible reasons.

Reason 1: Connection Problem

The first possible reason could be that your Mac can't recognize the connected iPhone. And the connection issue can be caused by:

  • Faulty Cable: If you take a cable that is broken, has a non-working port, or is not compatible, your Macbook will not recognize the iPhone you've plugged in. Thus, transferring photos from iPhone to Mac will fail you consequently.
  • System Glitch: Sometimes the Macbook may not recognize your iPhone due to bugs in the system or software, or even if it does, it may decide that the pictures to be transferred are in unrecognized formats.
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Reason 2: iPhone Has Turned on "Optimize iPhone Storage" in iCloud

The second reason you need to schedule is the settings for pictures on your iPhone. For example, the following two settings can relatively affect the transfer of photos from iPhone to Mac.

  • iCloud Photo Library
  • Optimize iPhone Storage

When both of the iCloud options are enabled on your iPhone, your photos will be stored in iCloud rather than a smaller preview of the photos stored on iPhone storage. That's the reason why you can't import photos from iPhone to Mac via a USB connection, as the photos are not actually stored in your iPhone storage.

iCloud Photo Library

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Reason 3: Adding a Large Number of Photos to Mac at a Time

Moreover, constant and excessive images can also cause the transfer to fail. If you are importing a lot of photos, say 1000 photos, from iPhone to Mac at one time, the Photos app may get stuck in importing.

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How to Import Photos from iPhone to Mac Successfully

If you can't import photos from iPhone to Mac because of the above reasons, you can try to fix the problem with the following methods.

Fix 1: Restart iPhone and Mac

Restarting is usually the most effective way to deal with small glitches on the devices. Try to restart your iPhone and Mac if the Photos app gets stuck at importing photos on Mac, and then try moving photos again.

How to Restart an iPhone
  • For iPhone X, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15 models:
    Press and hold either volume button and the side button to awaken the power-off slider and drag the slider. To turn it on, press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo.

  • For iPhone 6, 7, 8, or SE (2nd or 3rd generation):
    Press and hold the side button until the power-off slider appears. Drag it and wait for the iPhone to turn off. Then by pressing and holding the side button, the iPhone will be restarted.

  • For iPhone SE (1st generation), 5, or earlier:
    Press and hold the top button, and drag the power-off slider. To turn the device back on, press and hold the top button until you see the Apple logo.

Fix 2: Reset iPhone Location & Privacy

If your iPhone can't be recognized and add photos to your Mac computer, which is a connection error caused by the location and privacy settings. To fix this, you can reset the iPhone location and privacy by following the steps below:

Step 1. Open your iPhone and go to "Settings".

Step 2. Find General > Reset/Transfer or Reset iPhone > Reset Location & Privacy.

Step 3. After that, re-plug your iPhone to Mac and tap Trust on your iPhone when you see the Trust the Mac alert.

Reset Location & Privacy

Fix 3: Turn off iCloud Photo Library

To fix the importing problem caused by turning on "Optimize iPhone Storage", you can try these steps to turn it off:

Step 1. Go to "Settings" and click on your "Apple ID".

Step 2. Continue to tap iCloud > Photos, and find "iCloud Photos Library" to turn it off. Then "Optimize iPhone Storage" will be shut down immediately after.

Turn off iCloud Photo Library

tips Note:
  • If you don't want to turn it off, you can turn on iCloud Photo Library from System Preference > iCloud on Mac, so that the iPhone photos can be synced to Mac via iCloud, and you have no need to upload the iPhone photos manually.

Fix 4: Update System on iPhone and Mac

The normal use of iPhone and Mac is also closely related to the system version. If you find that photos won't be imported from iPhone to Mac properly, you can try to check and upgrade the operating system according to the following process.

iPhone System Update:

Step 1. Open "Settings" on your iPhone, and go to General > Software Update.

Step 2. If the upgrade is available, tap Download and Install.

iOS Update

Macbook System Update:

Method 1. Head to Apple menu > System Settings. Click "General" on the left side of the System Settings window, then click Software Update on the right.

Method 2. Head to Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Software Update.

macOS Update

Fix 5: Upload a Small Fraction of Photos to Mac at One Time

If your photos can't be imported from iPhone to Mac, the problem may be you upload too many photos, for example, hundreds of photos at a time. A viable solution is to select a fraction of photos to import to Mac each time so that it is easier for the Photos app to handle the importing task.

Fix 6: Set Home Folder Permission

You can also try to repair your home folder permission, which can help you transfer pictures from iPhone to Mac. The operation is not difficult at all, and you just need to follow the steps:

Step 1. Press Command + R on the Mac keyboard to activate Recovery mode, and select Terminal on the utility menu.

Step 2. Press the Return key and type "repairHomePermission". Then, you can enter the password to log in to your account, and click "Next".

Step 3. When the whole process finishes, click "Exit" and restart the Mac in normal mode.

Fix 7: Repair Phone Library

If all aspects of the system and settings are in order, you can also try to repair your phone library, which also affects transferring photos from iPhone to Mac to some extent. And here is how it works.

Step 1. Close "Photos" on Mac, and press the Command + Option buttons just after you've launched the app again. Then, you can see the "Repair Library" pops up.

Step 2. Just click "Repair" to begin repairing the library. After it finishes repairing, you can check it again.

Repair Phone Library

Alternative Ways to Import Photos from iPhone to Mac Directly

Maybe you think the above 7 methods are troublesome, and some of them may not be so effective. Therefore, we'd also like to offer you the other 2 ways to transfer pictures from iPhone to Mac.

Alternative 1: Transfer iPhone Photos to Mac Wirelessly (by AirDrop or Mail)

Here is also a quick way to solve the connection or stuck problem, which is to send your iPhone photos to your Mac using wireless methods, such as Airdrop and Mail.

  1. Go to Settings > Bluetooth to turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone.
  2. Open the Photos app and select the photos you want to import to Mac.
  3. Click the Share button at the left bottom and then choose Airdrop.
  4. Choose your Mac to transfer the photos to. If your Mac device doesn't appear, double-check the Bluetooth settings.
  5. Wait for your photos imported from iPhone to Mac.

Transfer iPhone Photos by Airdrop

tips Tips:
  • You can also try to send photos by Mail if you Airdrop doesn't work, which follows the similar steps and does not require the Bluetooth function.

Alternative 2: Import Photos from iPhone to Mac with a Third-Party Tool (Recommended)

All the methods mentioned above are fixes that you need to troubleshoot first and then import photos to Mac manually. Unluckily, there are still possibilities that you have no idea what the problem is. In this case, using a powerful third-party tool to transfer photos can be a good choice because it can help you upload photos from iPhone to Macbook quickly and easily.

FonePaw iOS Transfer is an expert at multimedia file transfer. Whether it is video, audio, or pictures in various formats, this dedicated software can easily transfer them from iPhone to Mac with a simple drag-and-drop movement. And, it can give you a preview to confirm which photos need to be transferred. Better yet, FonePaw iOS Transfer can also be considered your photo manager, which can help you create, organize and delete pictures as well!

Step 1. Install and run the FonePaw tool on Mac.

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Step 2. Plug your iPhone into your Mac and make sure they are connected well.

Plug iPhone to Mac

Step 3. Click Photos and select the photos you want to transfer.

Transfer iPhone Photos

Step 4. Click Export to Mac to copy them to your Mac.

Transfer Pictures from iPhone to Mac

You can also click Toolbox > Device to PC to import all photos from iPhone to Mac in one click.

Device to PC

That's all about the fixes to the problem of how to import photos from iPhone to Mac. Hope the solutions listed can help you. Compared to the common solutions, FonePaw iOS Transfer can be a better method when you want to import a large number of photos from your iPhone to your Mac and can keep you from encountering problems that are hard to figure out. Why not have a try if you want the transfer to go more smoothly?

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