Transferring photos from iPhone | iLounge Article

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Transferring photos from iPhone

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By Jesse Hollington

Social Media & Software Editor, iLounge
Published: Thursday, July 26, 2007
Articles Categories: Ask iLounge, iPhone, Windows

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Q: I’ve recently purchased an iPhone, and taken over 200 pictures with it, but I can’t seem to get them off the iPhone onto my computer.  When I plug my iPhone into my computer it doesn’t appear as a drive letter like my other camera does, or even my iPod for that matter.  I also can’t see anywhere in iTunes that I would go to transfer my pictures back to my computer.  I’m using Windows XP.  How do I retrieve these photos?  It would take far too long to e-mail 200 photos to myself.

- Gord

A: The iPhone uses a new and different synchronization method from the iPod series of devices, and therefore will not appear as an external hard drive in the same way that the iPod does.  Instead, the iPhone syncs its content through a special iTunes-specific protocol.  This handles the transfer of contact, calendar and bookmark information in two directions, and all other data only from iTunes to the iPhone.

For transferring photos, the iPod will appear to the operating system as a Digital Camera, using a camera-specific protocol that is common on a number of different digital camera models. The first time you connect your iPhone, Windows XP should detect it as a “Digital Still Camera” and install the necessary drivers for it:

In a default Windows XP configuration, once the drivers are installed, Windows will also automatically start the “Scanner and Camera Wizard” to allow you to transfer photos back from your iPhone to your PC:

Selecting “Next” and working through the Wizard will allow you to choose photos from your iPhone that you wish to import, specify a directory to copy them to and how to name them, and even choose to delete them from your iPhone after import:


Once the Scanner and Camera Wizard has finished, the iPhone will remain connected, but instead of appearing as a drive letter, the iPhone will appear under the Scanners and Cameras section in your “My Computer” window:

Note that you can also browse the content of your iPhone’s camera folder simply by double-clicking on the “Apple iPhone” where it appears in the “My Computer” window:

From here, photos can be dragged from the iPhone to any folder on your computer manually.

As an aside, for Mac users the standard tool for transferring photos from the iPhone is iPhoto, although Apple’s “Image Capture” tool can also be used for simple transfers:

Any third-party photo management applications for Mac or Windows that are designed to import from digital cameras should also be able to detect the iPhone as a digital camera and transfer photos from it using this method. The officially supported applications are Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Photoshop Album for Windows users, and iPhoto and Aperture for Mac users, although any application that supports digital camera transfer should work fine.

One last very important note:  If the iPhone is locked with a passcode when connected, it will either not appear as a camera device on your computer at all, or will appear empty (no photos available to transfer).  This is a security feature to prevent somebody from getting access to your photos in the event that they get their hands on your iPhone. You must unlock the iPhone in order to transfer photos from it.

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