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Fixed: Can't Import Photos from iPhone to Mac (2019)

By Carrie Murray, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Importing iPhone photos to Mac is easy most of the time. You use a USB cable to plug your iPhone into the Mac computer, then open the Photos app on Mac, find your iPhone and click Import to get the iPhone photos on Mac. Easy peasy. However, sometimes you just can't import photos from iPhone to Mac.

It could be that not all photos can be imported from iPhone to Mac, only a small fraction of the photos can be imported. Also, sometimes, the Photos app on Mac won't even recognize your iPhone while in other cases, although the iPhone can't be recognized, it gets stuck at importing photos.

This post will show you why you can't import photos from iPhone and what to do to fix the issue that photos won't import from iPhone to Mac.

Import iPhone Photos to Mac

Tip: When the Photos app on Mac won't transfer your iPhone photos, try to get FonePaw iOS Transfer, which can import photos, movies, music, books, contacts, etc. from iPhone to Mac and vice versa.


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

The first possible reason could be that your Mac can't recognize the connected iPhone. The connection issue can be caused by a faulty cable or a system glitch.

If you have iCloud Photo Library turned on and "Optimize iPhone Storage" option enabled on your iPhone, this is the most likely reason why iPhoto or Photos app won't import all your iPhone photos. When the 2 iCloud options are enabled on your iPhone, your iPhone photos are stored in iCloud while a smaller preview of the photos are saving on the iPhone storage for you to view them from the phone. That's why you can't import the photos to Mac via a USB connection, as the photos are not actually stored in your iPhone storage.

Optimize iPhone Storage

Moreover, 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.

How to Fix Photos not Importing from iPhone to Mac

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.

Reset Location & Privacy

On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Location & Privacy. After that, re-plug your iPhone to Mac and tap Trust on iPhone when you see the Trust the Mac alert.

Reset Location & Privacy

Import a small fraction of photos at one time

Instead of importing all iPhone photos into Mac at one time, select a fraction of photos to import each time. It is easier for the Photos app to handle an importing task in this way. 

Turn off iCloud Photo Library 

On iPhone, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos > iCloud Photos Library to turn it off. 

If you don't want to turn it off, turn on iCloud Photo Library from System Preference >iCloud on Mac so that the iPhone photos can be synced to Mac via iCloud.

Restart iPhone and Mac

Restarting iPhone and Mac can help to fix small glitches on the devices, which is very helpful if the Photos app gets stuck importing photos on Mac.

Import Photos from iPhone to Mac with a More Powerful Tool

If you have trouble in using the Photos/iPhoto on Mac to import photos from iPhone, maybe it is time to get a more powerful tool to transfer photos more smoothly. 

FonePaw iOS Transfer is an expert at transferring photos, videos, music, movies, contacts, etc. from iPhone to Mac via USB. As a dedicated iOS data transfer tool, it can also move data among iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch freely after you have connected the iOS devices to the program on a computer.

Connect iPhone to Mac with FonePaw

It makes data transfer between iPhone and Mac as easy as drag-and-drop. Here is how the FonePaw iOS Transfer works.


  • Install and run the FonePaw tool on Mac.

  • Plug your iPhone into Mac.

  • Click Photos and select the photos on your iPhone.

  • Click Export to Mac to copy them to your Mac.

Export Photos to Mac

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

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