How to Copy Pictures to Your iPad

If you’re new to the iPad, chances are you are wondering how you’re going to get pictures stored on your computer to your new iPad.

The only way that you can copy pictures to your iPad is by using iTunes, emailing the pictures to yourself, or using a MobileMe-like service to keep your pictures synchronized.

The guide below will show you how to configure iTunes and your iPad to keep pictures stored on your computer synced with your iPad.

Software/Hardware used: iTunes 10 running on Mac OS X and an iPad running iOS 4.2. These instructions should apply to the iTunes version for Windows.

Before proceeding, please make sure that your iPad is plugged in to your computer.

1. Click on the iPad in iTunes under Devices.

2. Click the Photos tab.

3. Check Sync Photo’s from.

4. If you are running iTunes on a Mac and use iPhoto to manage your pictures, select iPhoto from the Sync Photos from drop-down.

Otherwise click Choose folder… to locate the directory containing the photos you wish to sync with your iPad.

Note: When you select the directory make sure to select the main directory containing all of your photos, this way you can select individual folders by following the steps below.

Using this method you can only sync one directory (that can contain multiple folders) at a time, this is why I recommend you use the directory containing all of your photos.

If your photos are dispersed across a network or several computers, I recommend that you combine the photos in one location to facilitate synchronization of photos to your iPad.

5. When the folder location window opens (same on Mac and Windows), find and select the folder containing the picture you wish to sync. Click Choose to continue.

6. When you come back to iTunes you will notice that you have the option of syncing All folders or Selected folders within the directory you selected.

Note: When syncing photos to your iPad you can also opt to include videos that are contained in those folders, but be aware that adding videos will increase the length of the initial sync and will reduce the amount of space on your iPad.

7. If you choose to select individial folders, which I recommend, a separate list will appear with the names of all the folders contained in the selected directory. Check the folders you wish to include for the iPad.

Note: If the directory you selected exceeds the space of the iPad you will receive an error when syncing.

9. Click on Apply to save the settings and sync with your iPad.

If you encounter any issues or have any questions, please use the comments form below.

  • Extracarroll

    Following your instructions, we are stuck. The iPad seems to be in an infinite loop saying Please Wait and updating Library. It has been like this for some time. We’ve tried more than once. Is their some sort of start over?

    • Couple of things: Do you have the latest version of iOS (the iPad’s software)? There was a bug related to something like this that was recently resolved…may want to try that before attempting to sync.

      Also…did you check optimize images when you chose to sync the images? This could delay the sync process if you have a lot of pictures. Hope this helps.

  • Lareserva

    After reading your instructions I got to the APPLY command, as I press APPLY, it says that all applications will be erased and all info erased. It does not work

    • Have you synced the ipad with this computer in the past? or is it the first time? If so, this could be why you are receiving this error.

  • Sylvia Carpenter

    A great help many thanks

  • Gatorjgt

    How about downloading a few picutres from each folder
    Do I need to create a new folder in iphoto?

    • I suggest creating events or albums for the pictures you wish to sync to the iPad, unfortunately you cannot select down to the image level in iTunes.


      Gilberto J Perera

  • jazzie

    I am trying to copy photos from pc to iPad but get an error stating that the iPad cannot sync. There is an error writing to the device.

    • Are you finding that this occurs all the time? Have you rebooted your iPad? That could help.


      Gilberto J Perera

  • Davewithgreyhair

    Easy photo capture from Facebook or anywhere.. If you have a picture of anything – from anywhere- and want to add it to your IPad photos, just take a screen shot. Just press the home button & sleep button at the same time & your picture is saved to the photo list.

  • Greta Soenen

    I followed instructions carefully, wanted to copy pictures from pc to ipad, it did sinc, but when i tap the icon photo’s on ipad there are no pictures…what to do ?
    When i email pictures to myself, i can save them in my ipad, they do appear.
    Where do i find the apps tab, and the”sinc new apps” box?
    Thanks for helping me

    • Are you getting an error when you sync the iPad? Also did you select the folder containing the images? It’s very easy to get confused, I know I have. Thanks.


      Gilberto J Perera

  • Heather Carslake

    I am most unhappy with my iPad (1) which I have had for 2 weeks now.
    I sync photos, but when I check them out on iPad, they are not in the carefully sequenced order which they were on my.p.c.!!!!!!!! Thinking of returning this to store

    • Based on my experience syncing images to the ipad, they are sorted by date…as far a I know there’s no way to change the sort order.


      Gilberto J Perera

  • True Blue Tarheel

    Thank you this is what we needed to get started….now how do we delete one or two photos or rotate them?
    True blue Tarheel

  • santosmarise

    Why am I deleting the previous photos already in my ipad when I download new ones?

    • If you changed the main directory in iTunes it will delete the previous
      directory and add the new one. The trick is to add pictures to the main
      directory without making changes on the iPad…this will only add new
      pictures instead of remove them each time you change directories.