How To Download Photos to iPad

Download photos to iPad
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Along with being a great ebook reader, streaming video, and gaming device, the iPad is also a terrific tool for photos. The iPad's big, beautiful screen is perfect to view your photos or to use as part of your mobile photography studio.

In order to do that, you need to get photos onto the iPad. You can do that by taking pictures the iPad's built-in camera, but what if the photos you want to add to the iPad are stored somewhere else? How do you download photos to the iPad?

How to Download Photos to iPad Using iTunes

Perhaps the most common way of getting photos onto an iPad is to sync them using iTunes. To do this, the photos you want to add to the iPad need to be stored on your computer. Assuming that's done, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the iPad into your computer to sync it
  2. Go to iTunes and click the iPad icon in the top left corner, beneath the playback controls
  3. On the iPad management screen appears, click Photos in the left-hand column
  4. Check the Sync Photos box at the top of the screen to enable photo syncing
  5. Next, you need to choose the program that contains the photos you want to sync. Click the Copy photos from: drop down to see the options available on your computer (this differs depending on whether you have a Mac or PC, and what software you have installed. Common programs include iPhoto, Aperture, and Photos) and select the program you use to store your photos
  6. Choose whether you want to sync some photos and photo albums or all by clicking the correct button 
  7. If you choose to sync only Selected albums, a new set of boxes appear, allowing you to choose from your photo albums. Check the box next to each one you want to sync
  8. Other syncing options include syncing only the photos you've favorited, to include or exclude videos, and to automatically include videos from certain time periods
  1. Once you've got your settings the way you want them, click the Apply button at the bottom right corner of iTunes to download photos to your iPad
  2. When the sync is completed, tap the Photos app on your iPad to view the new photos.

How to Download Photos to iPad Using iCloud

Syncing from a computer isn't the only way to get photos onto an iPad. You can also download them from the cloud. If you use iCloud, iCloud Photo Library is designed to store your photos in the cloud and automatically sync them to all devices you've set up. This way, any photos you take on your iPhone or add to your computer's photo library will be automatically added to your iPad.

Enable iCloud Photo Library by following these steps:

  1. Make sure iCloud Photo Library is enabled on your computer if you use one. On a Mac, click the Apple menu, select System Preferences, and then select iCloud. In the iCloud control panel, check the box next to Photos. On a PC, download iCloud for Windows, install and open it, then check the iCloud Photo Library box
  2. On your iPhone and iPad, tap Settings, then tap iCloud, then tap Photos. On this screen, move the iCloud Photo Library slider to on/green
  3. Whenever a new photo is added to your computer, iPhone, or iPad, it will be uploaded to your iCloud account and downloaded to all of your connected devices
  4. You can also upload photos to iCloud via the web by going to, selecting Photos, and adding new pictures.

Other Ways to Download Photos to iPad

While those are the primary ways to get photos onto your iPad, they're not your only options. A few other ways to download photos to the iPad include:

  • AirDrop—This is a feature of the iOS that lets you transfer files wirelessly between iOS devices and Macs. It's a good option for transferring a handful of photos. Learn more about using AirDrop
  • Apple Camera Adapters—Apple sells a number of cables that import photos directly to your iPad, including the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader and the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. These connect to the Lightning port on the iPad (or the Dock Connector on older models) and then connect to your digital camera or SD card. 
  • Third Party Apps—There are a handful of third-party apps that can help you download photos to your iPad. They are primarily things like DropBox, which store your photos in the cloud and automatically sync them across multiple devices.

Can You Sync iPhone to iPad?

Since you can sync photos directly from a camera to the iPad, you may be wondering whether it's possible to sync an iPhone directly to an iPad. The answer is sort of.

You can sync photos between the devices if you have one of the Apple camera adapter cables just mentioned. In that case, the iPad can treat the iPhone like a camera and import photos directly.

For all other types of data, though, you're out of luck. Apple designed its syncing features to sync a device (the iPad or iPhone in this case) to a centralized system (your computer or iCloud), not device to device. That may change someday, but for now, the best you can do to sync devices directly is AirDrop.