Transfer Pictures to iPad the Easy Way with iTunes

Apr 19, 2012 - 19 Comments

Transfer Photos to iPad

Transferring photos from a computer to the iPad is very easy with the help of iTunes. To get started, you’ll need either a Mac or PC with iTunes, a USB connector cable for the iPad, and a folder containing the pictures you want to transfer over to the iPad.

The process is exactly the same in both Mac OS X and Windows, which is why it’s the easiest universal method to transfer photos to an iPad from any computer.

  1. Create a folder containing images you want to transfer to the iPad
  2. Connect the iPad to the computer, launch iTunes, and select the iPad from the devices list
  3. Click on the “Photos” tab
  4. Check the box next to “Sync Photos from” and select “Choose folder…”
  5. Transfer Photos to an iPad

  6. Locate and select the folder you created earlier containing the pictures you wish to transfer over, click on “Choose”
  7. Click on “Apply” to begin syncing the photos from the computer to iPad

The images will sync over and create a new album within the iPad Photos app that contains all the pictures. If the selected folder contains subfolders with pictures, those will transfer as well, but you can uncheck subfolders if you want them excluded.

If you need to do the reverse and get pictures off of an iPad or iPhone, transferring photos from iOS to a computer is also simple and can be done entirely outside of iTunes.

Finally, setting up iCloud gives access to the Photo Stream feature, which will automate the entire process of syncing pictures between a Mac and an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. If you haven’t signed up for the free iCloud service yet, you should do so.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Tom says:

    Why not use Photo Stream? Commit to iCloud as your storage method and there is no syncing involved everything just shows up where it should.

    Also for iPhoto users, you can wirelessly “beam” photos back and forth between hardware but you will obviously have to buy the $5 app for iOS.

    • Brian Yang says:

      I like the idea of Photo Stream but it needs better file management, plus it’s so easy to accidentally delete everything. Do yourself a favor and backup outside of Photo Stream or you may find yourself losing all of your pictures!

  2. […] you can do whatever you want with them. Keep the images around your hard drive for backup purposes, transfer them to an iPad since there still isn’t a native Instagram app, turn the pics folder into a screen saver (or […]

  3. Russ says:

    Not one step in the outlined process works. Thanks for the frustrating instructions. This is probably a joke to someone.

  4. Arie says:

    I agree with Russ. Directions are stupid. Just curious–Did this work for anyone?

    • Douglas says:

      Yes of course this works, this is how all of us move photos to an iPad from your computer. Why don’t you follow the instructions instead of complaining about not following the directions?

      • Brian says:

        Doug, Instead of insisting this works and telling us to follow instructions, maybe you should believe someone when they say it doesn’t work.

        I am another one that has no “Photos” tab, so yes this instruction set is useless to me also.

        Thanks anyways Paul.

  5. Leon says:

    I do not see the “Photos tab”? I see options for music and books etc but no photos? What am I doing wrong?

  6. Jim says:

    None of these instructions work, don’t waste your time.

    • Nopez says:

      These instructions work to transfer pictures to your iPad from iTunes, why can’t you follow instructions Jim? Works just fine, just did it. Do it all the time.

  7. bob says:

    As a photographer, I want to use iPad as a place to display my portfolio. I see nothing about the sizing requirements for the iPad and I must know what size is needed before transferring them. When I opened iTunes there was nothing anywhere related to the photos in my PC. I was told that this was doable before purchasing an iPad, but have been unable to find any detailed information on how to do that.

    • int says:

      You can store photos of just about any size on the iPad, though the screen resolution on retina is about 2048×2048. Uncompressed PNG or very high res JPG with minimal compression look good, but you’ll be able to view TIFF etc on the iPad. How many photos you can store there depends on the size of the iPad storage itself, 16GB model obviously has less space than 128GB, etc. Copy a few over, you’ll see how it works.

  8. Andrew Griffiths says:

    No photo tab in my i-tunes either. Is this to force me to use the cloud (and rapidly exceed my free allocation to reach the subscription level)?

  9. Linda says:

    This instructions does NOT work! Thanks a lot for irritating me to bits !

  10. Ken says:

    Yeah, I have an ipad Air 1 and an iphone 5. i-tunes is the only thing I really hate about the i-devices. It never tells u if your doing it right, no feedback at all. I have had some success copying videos over from my go pro but I think I was just lucky. I know i will have to bite the bullet and go and make a genius bar appointment to get some REAL tuition. After wasting time using i-tunes I end up emailing myself and saving the photos to the photo stream.

  11. John says:

    What every one has missed, is you must click on the Ipad in the left column of Itunes. Then a new window opens up and the photos tab appears on the top right hand side. Then the rest follows very well. However it should be noted, doing it this way will remove any photos put on by any other means from any other computer. It does tell you it will remove other photos. Be very careful, once their gone its over.

    • Sarah says:

      From apple website:
      “Important Note: When syncing photos from computer to iPhone or iPad with iTunes, you will lose all the previous photos stored in Photo Library. ”

      HOW DUMB IS THAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!! stupid apple

  12. Richard says:

    Instructions work fine, but there’s a flaw:
    If you already have photos and albums on the iPad, “synch” wants to delete them in favor of the ones your bringing from iTunes.

    What’s wrong with simple file transfers, like every computer (including Mac) and every other mobile device (except iOS) uses?

    Apple should fix this, but they won’t.

  13. Sarah says:

    The instruction works but as Richard mentioned I can’t do transfer. Every album I sync, it deletes the previously synced album on my ipad !!
    It’s the case of apple wants to be different !!!

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