If you want to transfer photos and videos from your iPhone to your Windows 11 PC, the quickest and easiest way is to plug your phone in and perform an automatic import. Here’s how to do it.

How to Import Photos and Videos from an iPhone into Windows

If you plug your iPhone into your Windows PC with a USB cable, Windows 11 can connect to it like a standard digital camera, reading the device’s “DCIM” folder. It can copy the photos and videos from your iPhone with no extra software needed. Here’s how to set it up.

First, locate the appropriate Lightning to USB cable for your iPhone. Usually, this is the same cable you can use to charge your iPhone. One end will have a small connector that plugs into your iPhone (the Lightning end), and another will either be a USB-A or USB-C connector.

Plug your iPhone into the cable, then plug the other end into a USB port on your Windows 11 PC.

Photo of an iPhone with a Lightning Port
Apple, Inc.

When you plug in your iPhone, the phone will ask you if you want to allow the PC to access photos and videos on the device. Tap “Allow.” This will make the iPhone’s “DCIM” photos and videos folder available to Windows 11.

Tap "Allow" on the iPhone screen.

Back on the Windows PC, open File Explorer and navigate to “This PC.” If the iPhone was properly recognized by your PC (and allowed to connect), it will show up as a removable drive in the “Devices and Drives” section.

Locate your iPhone in "This PC."

Right-click the icon for your iPhone in File Explorer and select “Import Pictures and Videos” in the menu that appears.

An “Import Pictures and Videos” window will appear. Windows will scan the pictures folder in your iPhone to look for photos and videos it can copy to your PC.

Lookfing for photos and videos in Windows 11.

After Windows has found all the new photos and videos it hasn’t imported before, it will show you how many can be imported.

If you want to experiment with Windows 11’s (somewhat confusing) attempt to organize your photos, you can choose the “Review, organize, and group items to import option.” However, we recommend doing a simple import: Select “Import all new items now,” then click the “Import” button.

During the import process, Windows will copy the photos and videos to a new time-stamped folder in your Pictures folder by default. If you’d like to erase all the photos and videos from your iPhone after you’re done importing, place a checkmark beside “Erase After Importing.”

Warning: If you check “Erase After Importing” during the import, Windows will delete all the photos and videos it imported off your iPhone when it’s done. If you want to leave a copy of the imported photos and videos on your phone, leave the “Erase After Importing” box unchecked.

To delete the photos when imported, select "Erase after Importing."

When the import is complete, open a File Explorer window and navigate to your Pictures folder. In that folder, you’ll find a dated folder that contains all the photos and videos that you just imported. Double click the folder and you’ll see the images inside.

You'll find the imported photos in your Pictures folder.

If you notice a bunch of AAE files in the folder with the pictures, don’t be alarmed. Those are special metadata files Apple uses to store photo editing info. They are useless on Windows, so it’s safe to delete any .AAE files you find.

After that, unplug your iPhone, and you’re done. You can plug it back in again to import photos or videos any time you want. If you didn’t select “Erase After Importing” during your last import, Windows will remember which photos it imported before, and you won’t get any duplicates on your next import. Pretty nice!

RELATED: What Are AAE Files from an iPhone, and Can I Delete Them?

Alternately, Email Photos to Yourself

If you only have a few iPhone photos or videos you want to transfer to a Windows 11 PC—or if you can’t find a Lightning cable—you could alternately email the photos from your device to yourself. To do that, open the Photos app on your iPhone, select the images you want to email, then tap the share button (which looks like a square with an arrow pointing upward out of it).

Tap the Share button in the Photos app.

In the menu that appears, tap the Mail app icon, then you can compose an email in the Mail app. You can only send a limited number of photos at a time this way, so it’s usually only good for a handful of images or a couple of videos. But it works in a pinch. Good luck!

RELATED: How to Share Photos and Videos From Your iPhone

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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