Apr 022013

In the past I have used iCloud to transfer photos taken on my iPhone and iPad over to my main computer, and then I have imported them into Lightroom. However, there is an even easier way to copy them to your computer and import them into Lightroom — simply plug your iPhone or iPad into your computer with its USB connection, open up Lightroom’s Import dialog, and select your iDevice in the Source panel on the left.  Set your import settings just like you would for a memory card, so that your photos get copied into the correct destination folders.

I picked up this tip from Adobe’s Phosphors blog – “Illuminating Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Bridge”.

For more on importing in Lightroom, watch my free video tutorials.


  25 Responses to “Quick Tip: How to Import Your iPhone and iPad Photos into Lightroom”

  1. that would work for any removable drive/phone. Android, Kindle, USB stick, etc. Wonderful tip/reminder.

  2. Thank you Laura that is so helpful. I have been wondering how to do that.
    Could you tell us how to get photos from iPhoto into Lightroom?

    • @Michele-if you want the all of the originals, navigate to ~\Pictures\ and locate your iPhoto library. Right click on the library and choose Show Package Contents. In the popup screen look for a folder called Masters. Carefully right click on it, choose Copy and copy it to your desktop. Then import this folder with the “include subdirectories” option in Lightroom. Once the pictures have been copied into Lightroom you can delete the desktop copy of Masters (this assumes that you maintain a fixed location for your Lightroom photos and COPY or MOVE photos when you import to Lightroom. If not, then put the Masters folder from your desktop wherever you normally manage/store your Lightroom photos and import them to your Lightroom catalog).

      If you just want a few original files, then select the files, choose export from the file menu and in the box that says KIND, change it from JPEG to Original and follow the export dialog to export the photos to your hard drive, then import them to Lightroom.

      If you want your iPhotos with your iPhoto edits, select the photos you want in Lightroom, export them to a folder on your hard drive and then proceed to import them to Lightroom. If you want all of them with edits, you’ll need to select all of them.

      I would avoid options to do this that use Reveal in Finder–it’s too easy to screw up your library. That’s also why I suggest being very careful when you copy the Masters folder out of the library.

      If you intend on trying to round-trip your photos from iPhoto to Lightroom and then back to iPhoto for some reason–don’t. It would be a fully manual process and at some point you’ll screw up something and maybe damage an important photo. If your goal is to get a more robust photo editor for iPhoto, then your best choice would be Apple Aperture. It can work on the photos while they are in your iPhoto library.

      While I have both Lightroom and Aperture, I vastly prefer Lightroom. This is NOT the place to start a Lightroom versus Aperture discussion, but if you want to “live” in iPhoto and need a more robust editor, then Aperture is your best choice. If you just want to get old photos out of iPhoto and into Lightroom and “live” in Lightroom, then the suggestions above should help you do that.

      Lastly, if you have a BIG iphoto library don’t try and export it all in one batch-do smaller batches or iPhoto may freeze.

  3. You could link all your iDevice to Dropbox and then they will sync to the desktop. Giving you one folder to import from without having to connect your iDevice to the computer!

  4. Very helpful, Laura. So simple but I would never have thought of it. I really appreciate your quick tips.

  5. Very helpful, Laura. Should have thought of this myself, but since I didn’t, thanks again. Beats Dropbox for convenience in my work flow.

  6. The tip for getting images into Lightroom from ur I Phone
    Only works for a PC not a MAC

  7. Hi Laura – Great tip! I have taken some great iphone shots and would have liked to do a wee bit of post on them in LR so I will make good use of the info you shared today. Thanks!

  8. Brilliant tip. I have been sending to mac via wifi then importing. This is much more sensible :)

  9. Great article. I wrote a similar one. The ways I mentioned aren’t neatly as fast as this but they are wireless and kind of can run in auto.

  10. Yay! Tonight I finally get these photos off my phone!! Thanks a million for the tip. :)

  11. Hi,

    I used to be able to import my iphone pictures into LR this way but it doesn’t work anymore. When I try to import picures The picture tiles has a message saying ‘Preview not available for this file’ and when I go ahead and import them it just hangs!

    Please could someone help me with this problem?

  12. I’m experiencing exactly the same issue as Leana. My photos are both .jpg and .nef.

    • I’m experiencing the same issue as both lean and dennis…..

      can’t import images any more from my iphone6 into lightroom,


  13. I’ve been doing this for years with no problem. Now, when I plug in my new iPhone (OS 9), phone does not show up as a source. Any idea how to fix that? Thanks!

  14. I just returned from a trip to Europe and have a number of iPhone 5 images I want to import into Lightroom 6. Lightroom recognized all but about the first 350 iPhone images. I can not get Lightroom to recognize all of the images on my iPhone. Help!

    • Perhaps they are already in Lightroom, Pam?

      • No, the images weren’t there. I finally had to put the images into an album in Camera Roll for them to be recognized. I have downloaded iPhone images to Lightroom many times with the images being in My Photo Steam and never had a problem with Lightroom showing all the images. Don’t know if this is a result of Lightroom 6. I have not done any of the further updates. Waiting until I’m sure all the problems have been fixed.

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