Moving photos between your iPhone and your PC is nice and straightforward, and the best way to do it is through the iCloud. It usually works automatically, but also lets you add specific photos already on your PC to your iPhone and iPad.
Specifically, we're going to explain how you can use iCloud Photo Library, Apple's photo syncing service, to transfer your photos to an iOS device.
This won't cost you anything if you have only a few photo albums and haven't used up your 5GB free iCloud allocation for other things. If your photos will push you over that 5GB limit, when trying to enable iCloud Photo Library in Settings > Photos on your iPhone or iPad, you'll see a message saying you don't have enough storage to use it.
In that case, you will have to pay for extra iCloud storage. And at 79p ($0.99) per month for 50GB, it's a small price to pay for convenience.
Anyway, here's how to transfer photos to your iPhone from your PC using iCloud and a couple of alternatives.
Apple uses iCloud, its cloud storage and syncing service, to make sure that the photos you take on your iPhone are readily available on both your computer and iPad. It’s a very useful service to have, and negates the need for cables and syncing, but what about if you wanted to put photos FROM your computer ONTO your iPhone? Is that possible? Of course it is – but the method depends on the software you use.
If your devices are running iOS 8 or later, which they certainly should be in 2020, the process is straightforward and means that you can manage and upload your complete photo libraries via the iCloud website.
To transfer photos from your PC to your iPhone, the first thing you need to do is access the iCloud website from your browser. Simply open your browser, navigate to iCloud.com and log in with your Apple ID.
Once you’ve logged into the iCloud website, click the Photos icon on the top row of apps. It’s worth noting that loading times may vary depending on the size of the library, with larger libraries taking upwards of 10 seconds to display.
Also, if this is the first time you’ve accessed your photo library from a browser, you’ll have to go through a first time setup.
In case you skipped over the intro, this will work only if you have space to spare in your iCloud drive. Most people with the free 5GB account won't have enough storage to use iCloud Photo Library and will need to cough up for extra storage space.
Select photos to add to your photo library and iPhone. Once you’ve opened the Photos app and accessed your Photos library, there should be an 'Upload' icon in the upper right-hand corner of the page. Click this, and browse your PC for the photos you want to add to your iPhone. If you want to select multiple files at once, hold CTRL and click each photo.
Once you’ve selected the photos you want to add to your iPhone, click Open/Choose and they’ll be uploaded to your iCloud Photo Library. If you look at the bottom of the page, you’ll see a progress bar – the process is usually pretty quick, but this can depend on the amount of photos you want to add.
You’re done! Once the photos have been uploaded to your iCloud Photo library, they should soon also appear within the Photos app of your iPhone (if you have iCloud enabled and are connected to Wi-Fi).
It’s worth noting that photos will be displayed in chronological order, so if you add photos that were taken in March, you’ll have to scroll back to March to see them.
If you don’t want to use Apple’s iCloud service, there are other options available to you. Carry on reading to see a list of other options available for transferring photos from your computer to your iPhone.
Alternative: Third-party cloud storage
One option, if you don't mind having your photos in a different app to the stock Photos app, is to use a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive or any of the other alternatives we recommend in our best cloud storage services roundup.
Once you install the iPhone or iPad app on your device, you then have access to all the files in your cloud account. Most allow you to mark files you want available offline so you don't need to have an internet connection to see those photos.
It's easy to copy photos stored on your PC to your Dropbox/Google or other cloud account. Then you can view them on your iPhone, download them or share them with friends.
Alternative: Google Photos
We've mentioned Google Drive, but a better alternative is the Google Photos app. Not only will this automatically backup photos you take on your iPhone, but it's essentially a free alternative to iCloud that will house photos and videos from any device you link to Google Photos.
Plus, you can upload photos to Google photos from your PC, so it's an easy way to transfer photo from your PC to your iPhone. Here's how to use Google Photos.
There are other programs that will let you drag and drop photos and other files to your iPhone without iTunes, but don't forget you can use iTunes itself to upload/sync photos to your iPhone via a Lightning cable and avoid the cloud entirely.
This is completely free and is the quickest way to transfer a lot of photos.