There are many ways you can view iOS photo on a Windows device. Depending on your iOS version, different methods can be applied. In this guide we will walk you through five different ways to view iOS photos on a PC.
Method One – arguably the best way if your iOS device is on 8.1
With the latest iOS 8.1 update, there is a new way to upload all your photos to the cloud. Apple introduced iCloud Photo Library (beta), in iOS 8.1. In my opinion, this is the holy grail to solve the ultimate smart phone photo overgrown problem. The idea is simple and has been around for years: let the device keep a device optimal resolution of the image at the same time upload a full resolution to the cloud. This is exactly what Apple did, and they called it iCloud Photo Library (beta). If your iOS device is on the latest iOS 8.1 or above, you can go to Settings > iCloud > enable “iCloud Photo Library (Beta)”
If you want to save space, choose Optimize iPhone Storage. This will only store the device optimal photo, which is a big deal considering a regular photo of 2MB shrinking down to less than 500 KB. From my personal experience, a photo library close to 4GB prior turning on Optimize iPhone Storage will be reduced to 500MB after all the optimization. The main point is not emphasizing the additional storage saved, but rather what this allows you to do when you have iCloud Photo Library (beta) turned on.
You can access the photos by login to iCloud.com. Clicking the Photos app allows you to access all the photos from your phone, granted they have been successfully uploaded to the cloud.
You will see all your photos organized chronologically. Clicking a photo will bring it to full screen mode and additional options to allow you download the full resolution of the picture.
Method two – iCloud Photo Stream
Just like the first method, this one also relies on Apple’s iCloud, but considered a legacy method for those of you who have not upgraded your device to the latest update. On your iOS Device go to Settings > iCloud > turn on Upload to My Photo Stream. This will allow you to access all your photos from Windows Explorer, given you have iCloud Panel for Windows installed. If you don’t have iCloud Panel installed, go here to download and install the client.
Once you have it installed, open up iClould and sign in with your Apple ID, ensure to enable Photos section.
In the additional Options, you can choose from My Photo Stream and iClould Photo Sharing, in both of which there will be additional “folders” and it will download new photos as you upload them in the background.
An example of how this might look like if you have iCloud My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing options checked:
Method Three – Dropbox + Carousel
If you don’t trust Apple, or want to have a solution not tied to a single platform, this would be a good cross-platform solution. Install Dropbox and/or Carousel; it works the same as the two methods above. It leverages background sync to automatically upload photos from your phone. Once you have them configured, no additional steps are required. If you don’t have the two apps mentioned above downloaded, you need to get them in the App Store before proceed. Note, Carousel is a supplement App for viewing purpose on your phone, not a requirement for this to work.
Once you have Dropbox downloaded, go to Settings tab > turn on Camera Upload option. This will allow Dropbox to automatically upload new photos as they come in the background.
There are two ways to view the photos on your Windows machine. You can either go to the Dropbox directory of the Camera Uploads folder or go to the Dropbox web interface to see all the pictures.
Method Four – Import As Camera
If cloud solution doesn’t work for you, methods below are none cloud-based. Connect your iOS device to Windows machine, you will see a prompt that lets you import pictures and videos. If the prompt doesn’t show up, you can always go to Windows Explorer and right-click the device > “Import pictures and videos”
This will bring up a dialog in which you can choose how you want to organize them.
Clicking on More options will let you configure where to import, and how you want to name the folder name and file name, etc.
Once you are happy with the setting, go ahead and import the photos. After this is done, all pictures will become permanently stored on your Windows machine.
Method Five – Third Party Applications Browse While Connected to iOS Device
Same idea as the previous method, import and view. The only difference is you can use third-party software to achieve the same outcome. Personally I do not recommend this approach, but would still like to present you the options available. There are three popular third-party file managers for your iOS devices: i-Funbox, PhoneBrowse and iExplorer. Each has its own unique way to import and transfer those photos off your iOS Device to Windows machine. Between the three, i-Funbox offers the most feature, but has grown overly ads-focused over the years, looking more like a mail-ware, which is one of the reasons not my primary recommendation.
Above are some of the ways you can view or transfer your iOS photo on to your Windows machine. They are certainly not limited to only those methods, but well covered in terms of leverage different technologies to achieve the same end result. Personally, I’ve always used method three with Dropbox + Carousal combination up until iOS 8.1 came out. The new feature of iCloud Photo Library (beta) truly puts direct competition with Dropbox, especially the fact that you can save additional GB of valuable storage space on your device makes a huge difference. Hope this guide provides a solid ground on which method suits you the most, choose them wisely.
Co-founder of Next of Windows and a cool geek 🙂
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Last updated: 11/11/2014