How to Transfer Files Between iPhone and Computer Using iTunes or AirDrop

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As a writer, I appreciate the portability of bringing my work with me wherever I go. I can write an article on my Mac then transfer it to my iPhone to polish it up while I’m waiting to pick the kids up from school.

I also routinely transfer my photos and videos from my iPhone to my computer for storage.

Although you can now use Handoff to start work on an iDevice and finish on a computer, the feature requires a late model Mac running OS X Yosemite and an iOS device running iOS 8.1. However, it’s also fairly simple to transfer files from a Mac to an iPhone or vice versa with iTunes and AirDrop.

To copy files between your iPhone and computer, you must have apps installed that support file sharing (such as Pages or Numbers).

 

To transfer files from your iPhone to your computer using iTunes:

1.  Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your computer and launch it.

2.  Connect your iPhone to your computer with its USB charging cable.

3.  Select your device from the Devices section of iTunes in the upper left corner.

4.  Click on the Apps tab and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

5.  Under the File Sharing section you should see a list of apps on your iPhone that support File Sharing. Select the app that contains the file you want to transfer to your computer.

6.  Click Save to… and choose where you want the file to go.

 

To transfer files from your computer to your iPhone using iTunes:

1.  Complete steps 1–5 above.

2.  Be sure to select the appropriate app under File Sharing.

3.  Click the Add… button, then choose the file you want to copy from your computer.

 

AirDrop uses Wi-Fi to transfer your files between your computer and your iPhone.

 

To send files from your Mac to your iPhone using AirDrop:

1.  In Finder on your Mac, select Go > Airdrop.

2.  You should see your iPhone image in the AirDrop window; drag and drop the files you want to transfer into it.

3.  Click Send.

4.  If your phone is not using the same iCloud account as the computer you are sending files from, you will need to tap Accept when the file arrives on your phone.

 

To send files from your iPhone to your Mac using AirDrop:

1.  From the iPhone app you want to share the file, click the Share button (a box with an up arrow through it).

2.  Select AirDrop.

3.  Choose your computer’s name in the Share sheet that appears.

4.  Click Send.

 

If your computer is not using the same iCloud account as the iPhone you are sending files from, you will need to click Save when the file arrives on your computer.

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Share content with AirDrop from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

With AirDrop, you can share photos, videos, websites, locations, and more with people nearby with an Apple device.

What you need

To share content with AirDrop, both people need one of these devices using iOS 7 or later, or a Mac with OS X Yosemite:

  • iPhone 5 or later
  • iPad (4th generation or later)
  • iPad mini
  • iPod touch (5th generation)

You also need to turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you want to share with your contacts, sign in to your iCloud account.

Learn more about using AirDrop to share with people using a Mac with Yosemite.

Turn on AirDrop

Use Control Center to turn AirDrop on or off and control whom you can share content with.

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to show Control Center.
  2. Tap AirDrop.
  3. Choose one of these options:
    • Off: Turns off AirDrop.
    • Contacts Only: Only your contacts can see your device.
    • Everyone: All nearby iOS devices using AirDrop can see your device.

Share content

You can share content from apps such as Photos, Safari, Contacts, and more.

  1. Tap the content you want to share.
  2. Tap Share or  .
  3. Depending on the app, you might be able to select other items you want to share.
  4. Tap the name of a nearby AirDrop user or the Apple device. If you’re sharing Contacts Only and can’t find a nearby user, check that both of you are signed in to an iCloud account. If you still can’t find a nearby user, consider setting AirDrop to Everyone. You might also need to turn off Personal Hotspot on one or both devices.

The other user will receive an alert with a preview of the content you want to share, and can either accept or decline. If the other user accepts, they’ll get the content in the app you sent it from. For example, photos will appear in the Photos app and websites will open in Safari.