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iPad File Transfer: How to Transfer Files from Mac to iPad

author Emily Watson
date Friday, August 16, 2019

Nowadays, the iPad is getting thinner with a bigger screen and is becoming a Mac substitute for many users. When using iPad for work or for fun, you must need to transfer files from Mac to iPad at some point.

This guide will show you all possible ways to move files between Mac and iPad. All files, including music, photos, contacts, movies, TV shows, PDF, Word/Excel documents, etc. can be transferred. Just select a method that works best for you.

Transfer Files from Mac to iPad Using iTunes

Using iTunes is a classic way to transfer files between Mac and iPad, although iTunes is killed in the latest macOS Catalina 10.15. (Check how to sync iPhone/iPad to Mac on macOS Catalina (opens new window))

If you haven't updated your Mac to the newest macOS 10.15, you can still use iTunes on your Mac to transfer files to iPad.

Sync media files from Mac to iPad

To transfer photo, music, video files from Mac to iPad, you have to sync your iPad with the iTunes library on your Mac, which may delete some existing files on your iPad.

Step 1: Run iTunes on Mac and plug your iPad into Mac. (What to do when iTunes won't recognize your iPad? (opens new window))

Step 2: Select your iPad in iTunes. Click Music, Photos, Movies or TV Shows and click Sync button on the bottom.

Sync Movies to iPad

Share documents from Mac to iPad

File Sharing on iTunes enables apps like Pages, Keynote to share files between Mac and iPad. To transfer documents from Mac to iPad:

  • Click File Sharing on iTunes;

  • All your iPad apps that support File Sharing will show up;

  • Select an app and click Add to add files from Mac to iPad.

How to Transfer Files from Mac to iPad without iTunes

Syncing iPad to iTunes library on Mac could wipe some existing files on Mac. That's why many people would like to import files to iPad from Mac without iTunes.

FonePaw iOS Transfer (opens new window) can replace iTunes for iPad files transfer. As a matter of fact, transferring files with the FonePaw tool is much more convenient than iTunes. It won't overwrite the existing files on your iPad and it supports files transfer from iPad back to Mac, too. Moreover, files transfer between iPhone and iPad, iPad and iPod Touch is also possible with FonePaw iOS Transfer.

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iPad Pro, iPad Air 3/2, iPad mini 4/3, iPad 2 and any other iPad models are all supported.

Step 1: Connect iPad to Mac

After launching FonePaw iOS Transfer on your MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro, get you iPad connected to Mac using a USB cable. After detected, your iPad will be shown up in the home window of the program.

Connect iPad to Mac

Step 2: Move Files from Mac to iPad

Select a category in the left column. For example, select Videos, which will load all video files on your iPad. Click "Add". In the pop-up file browser window, navigate to the folder on your Mac where you save video files you want to transfer. Then, click "Open" to copy movies to your iPad.

Move Files from iPad to Mac

Further reading:

How to Put Movies on iPad from Mac (opens new window)

How to Import Contacts from iPhone to Mac (opens new window)

How to Transfer Files from Mac to iPad Wirelessly

If you don't have a USB cable on hand right now, you can also transfer files from Mac to iPad wirelessly without USB cables. That's to use AirDrop to share the files between Mac and iPad.

Although AirDrop comes to handy when transferring one or several files at a time, it is not reliable if you need to move a large number of files between iPad and Mac. You're recommended to use a USB cable if there are numerous files on your Mac to transfer to iPad.

Step 1: Make sure that AirDrop is enabled on both your iPad and Mac (opens new window).

Step 2: On your MacBook or iMac, open the file, such as a photo, you want to send to iPad. Tap the Share button.

Step 3: When AirDrop displays the name of your iPad, tap the device to receive the files from Mac.

AirDrop Files on Mac

The Mac file will then be transferred to iPad wirelessly.