I don’t like using Apple’s applications and proprietary file storage types for photos. I like it old school where I can just drag photos from my devices to my external drive in a folder and organize them manually via folders.
Storing photos on iCloud is a privacy concern that not many people care about, but I do so I prefer to avoid it.
I’ll therefore talk about how I manage the exporting process of images from my iPhone to my local storage.
A couple of years ago I started using iMazing Backup which is an excellent software for Mac that enables me to bypass the whole Apple silo by making my own automated backups of Apple devices we have in the family over Wi-Fi. So the main reason I purchased it was to have an iCloud backup alternative.
However, it is also an excellent manager for Apple devices. I frequently use it to drop PDF books onto my iPad, for example. The process is extremely easy.
Another use case for me is exporting images from my phone onto local storage. I like to keep my phone as clean as possible and export all my photos every month or so. The disadvantage is that I don’t have easy access to all my photos, but on the other hand I know that my photos are safe and backed up at all times.
iMazing Backup has an excellent photo and video expert utility that also includes some smart folders. You can read about how it all works on iMazing’s guide.
This tool lets me export all images including the live photos (which in reality are short video clips) as well as original versions of edited photos. You can also choose to automatically convert from HEIC to JPEG and also change the naming structure of the photos.
Image Capture (My Previous Method)
This had been my go-to method prior to starting to use live photos. I then realized that this method would not export the live photos but only the still version. So I had to stop using this method.
Here’s how to do that process to transfer photos from an iPhone to an external drive, or anywhere on your Mac for that matter.
- Connect Your External Hard Drive To Your Mac. First, connect the hard drive to your Mac and make sure it shows up in the Finder’s sidebar.
- Connect Your iOS Device To Your Mac.
- Launch Image Capture.
- Select Destination.
- Click Import.
What to do if you already have your photos in the Photos app
If you had already used the Mac Photos app to import your photos from the phone, and you now want to export the individual photo files, you should follow these steps:
- Launch Photos on your Mac.
- Hold down the Option (⌥) key while dragging images to the Finder.
All of the original parameters of your images will be entirely preserved. In Photos 1.0, dragging an image out of the app would save your selection as a downscaled JPEG file. In the most recent release, dragged images retain their original resolution but are still recompressed as JPG files.
Note that I’ve had problems copying a whole album at once if it has a lot of photos in it. I’m not sure if it’s a general issue or just a local thing on my setup. What I do in that case is just select smaller batches of photos to move over.