How to easily move iPhone photos to your Chromebook

Over the US holiday weekend, I was asked on Twitter if you can get photos from an iPhone on to a Chromebook. Some folks may think this type of cross-platform photo sharing is a challenge, but as I’ve pointed out before, you can be a happy iPhone owner that uses a Chromebook.

Truth be told, it’s actually quite easy to move photos from an iOS to a Chrome OS device and there are two simple ways to do it.

Use Google Photos on your iPhone

The easiest method is to just install the free Google Photos app for iOS on to an iPhone. I actually recommend this even for iPhone users who don’t have a Chromebook for a few reasons.

Google provides free cloud storage for your images up to 16MP and 1080p for video, so you don’t have to use or pay for extra iCloud storage. This also helps free up storage space on your iPhone because the app will occasionally ask if it can delete the local copies. And once you have your iPhone photos on Google’s cloud, you can easily access them on a Chromebook, or any other device with a browser, for that matter.

Google Photos PWA

There’s even a Google Photos Progressive Web App for Chrome OS and, of course, you can install and use the Google Photos Android app on your Chromebook to see the photos from your iPhone as well.

Connect your iPhone to your Chromebook over USB

If you’d rather go “old-school” and use a USB to Lightning cable with your iPhone, that works too, even on iOS 14. Just physically connect your iPhone to the USB port on your Chromebook, provide permission on your iPhone when prompted and the Chrome OS Files app will then show the photo data from your iPhone.

You may need to drill down a folder or two to get at those iPhone photos, but once you see the images you want to transfer, it’s a simple drag-and-drop process to the local storage of your Chromebook.

iPhone photos on a Chromebook over USB

Note that any time you attach an external drive with photos to a Chromebook, you’ll likely see a prompt to automatically back up those photos to Google. You can choose to do that or not; it doesn’t impact moving photos from your iPhone to a Chromebook.

(This post was originally published in December of 2018 and was updated on August 23, 2020)

5 thoughts on “How to easily move iPhone photos to your Chromebook

  • August 21, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    This is not true, or its no longer true as of August 2020. Chromebooks do not recognize iphones and will only charge them

    • August 21, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      I thought perhaps something had changed based on your comment, so I just checked with an iPhone 11 Pro and my Acer Chromebook Spin 13. I can still see photos from the iPhone when I USB-connect it to my Chromebook. I did have to click the “allow this device to view files” prompt on the iPhone but it still works for me. What Chromebook and version of Chrome OS are you using?

      • September 10, 2020 at 9:34 am

        It seems that the pictures visible in Chromebook are the pictures residing locally on the IPhone/IPad. Is there any way to access the photos in iCloud via Chromebook?

    • September 5, 2020 at 11:33 am

      its sept 2020 now and when i plug in my iphone it says “Allow this device to access photos?” and i click Allow. then chromebook files app auto opens and it shows apple iphone and a dropdown that you can click and see all the photos organized into folders labeled “DCIM” i can open all of my phtos. the “Live Photos” on iphone show up as videos. but i can still click and drag all of my photos and copy them to my local dwnlds or my google drive which i prefer the ladder

  • August 23, 2020 at 9:59 am

    It works like a charm on my old SE with iOS 14 and my Lenovo 3.


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