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How to transfer photos from your iPhone to an iPad

iCloud is the ideal method, although Apple is relatively stingy with free storage limits.
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Published onMarch 30, 2023

Photo transfer is ridiculously easy in the Apple ecosystem, to the point you probably don’t have to have to think about it. There are two main ways to transfer photos (and/or videos) between an iPhone and an iPad — at least, if you want to do it in a reasonable amount of time.

QUICK ANSWER

The easiest transfer option is iCloud sync:

  1. Make sure your iPhone and iPad are signed into the same Apple ID.
  2. On both devices, go to Settings > your name/Apple ID > iCloud > Photos.
  3. Toggle on Sync this iPhone/iPad.
  4. Open the Photos app on your iPad.

How to transfer photos from your iPhone to an iPad

Using iCloud

This is the option most people should use, since media will automatically sync in both directions. It may already be set up, and once it is, you don’t have to lift a finger — just be mindful of how much local storage each device has, and how much you have in your iCloud plan. Everyone gets 5GB of iCloud storage for free, but that includes backups and other data, so sooner or later you’ll have to upgrade to iCloud Plus. You can get 50GB for $0.99 per month.

Here’s how to enable iCloud photo sync:

  • Make sure your iPhone and iPad are signed into the same Apple ID and have iCloud active.
  • On both devices, go to Settings > your name/Apple ID > iCloud > Photos.
  • Toggle on Sync this iPhone/iPad. If you’re worried about local storage space, enabling Optimize iPhone Storage will leave full-quality images in iCloud, keeping only smaller files on each device.

That’s it! Just be aware that first-time sync may take a while, and should usually only be done on Wi-Fi, especially if your mobile carrier has data caps. Open the Photos app to make sure it’s going. You’ll also want to disable Low Power Mode on both devices, since that intentionally restricts photo sync.

Using a cable

The Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter

This method should only be used if iCloud photo sync is disabled. Otherwise you’ll be creating duplicates, and at a slow speed no less — while most iPads are now using USB-C, iPhones are (for the moment) still stuck with Lightning, which is equivalent to USB 2.0. iCloud isn’t necessarily faster, but if you use a cable you’ll have to wait for a transfer to complete before you can resume using your devices.

To transfer photos using a cable:

  • Connect one of Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adapters to your iPhone.
  • Connect the adapter to your iPad, using a USB-A-to-Lightning or USB-A-to-USB-C cable, depending on your iPad’s port type. The USB-A end connects to the adapter.
  • On your iPhone, tap Allow when it asks if your iPad should be able to access photos and videos.
  • The Photos app should pop up automatically on your iPad. Choose you want to transfer, and file copies will begin.