By Lena / Last update May 26, 2023

How to Transfer Photos from External Hard Drive to iPad

Hello I just recently got the new iPad Air and I would love to import some pictures to it. Is there any way to put them there without iTunes?

- Question from an iPhone user

For some reason, you’d like to transfer pictures from external hard drive to iPhone or iPad. However, you know that Apple has made it difficult to transfer photos between computer and device. If you choose to use iTunes to sync pictures, it will erase the existing media content on device, which will result in data loss. Fortunately, there are three other methods that can help you easily transfer pictures to your iPhone or iPad. Keep reading to learn more.

Method 1. Quick Way Transfer Photos from External Hard Drive to iPhone/iPad

Whether you want to transfer a large number of photos or a few photos, the free iOS data transfer tool named FoneTool can help you complete the transfer quickly.

It helps you transfer photos between iDevice and computer.
It lets you preview and select the pictures you want to transfer.
It will not erase any existing photos or other data on your device.

It supports all iPhone/iPad models including the latest iPhone 12, iPad Air, 10.2-inch iPad. Now free download FoneTool on your computer and follow the steps below to move photos from external hard drive to iPhone/iPad.

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Launch FoneTool > Plug in your iPhone/iPad. (You may need to enter the passcode on iPhone/iPad so the software can access your device.)

Step 2. On the Home screen, click PC to iPhone option.

Transfer to iPhone

Step 3. Click the “+” icon > Choose the pictures stored in external hard drive > Click Open to continue.

Choose Photos

Step 4. Click Start Transfer to start.

Transfer Photos from External Hard Drive to iPhone

Step 5. Click OK when the transfer is completed.

► Notes: It also supports transferring data between iPad and iPhone. Refer to this How to Transfer Photos from iPad to iPhone guide to learn more.

Method 2. Transfer Photos from External Hard Drive to iPhone/iPad via Cloud Services

Nowadays, cloud services provides an easy way to help users store and share data. To move photos from external hard drive to iPhone or iPad, you can first upload pictures to cloud storage and then save the pictures on device. Take iCloud as an example:

On computer: Open a browser and go to > Sign in with your Apple ID and passcode > Click Photos > Click Upload Photos to select pictures stored on external hard drive.

On iPhone or iPad: Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos to turn on iCloud Photos.

Turn on iCloud Photos

If you are using Dropbox, Google Photo, or OneDrive, you should first go to the App Store to download the app on your iPhone or iPad and then you can see your pictures.

Method 3. Transfer Photos from External Hard Drive to iPhone/iPad via Email

If you just want to transfer one or two pictures from external hard drive to iPhone/iPad, you can simply send yourself an email with the picture attachment.

On computer: Send an email to yourself with photos attachments.

On iPhone/iPad: Go to the Mail app to check email and download pictures on device.


That’s all for how to transfer photos from external hard drive to iPhone or iPad. You can let FoneTool help you transfer selected pictures to iPhone easily. Or if you want to transfer pictures to device wirelessly, you can take advantage of cloud services or email to make it.

FoneTool Runs Perfectly on

iOS Versions
  • iOS 16/15/14/13/12/11 and former
  • iPadOS 16/15/14/13/12/11 and former
iOS Devices
  • iPhone 14/14 Pro (Max), 13/13 mini/Pro (Max), iPhone 12/12 mini/Pro (Max), iPhone 11/11 Pro (Max)
  • iPhone X/XR/XS/XS Max, iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone 7/7 Plus, iPhone 6/6s/6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st, 2nd, 3rd generations)
  • iPod touch 1/2/3/4/5/6/7
  • All models of iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPad